It’s been ten years since my first yoga class, and while I am no expert I would say I have learned a thing or two. Here is a guide for any girls thinking of trying yoga!
Hatha! Vinyasa! Kundalini! There are so many different kinds of yoga, it’s hard to know where to begin. I would suggest Hatha as a place to start, since these classes introduce you to the basic poses at a beginner pace. Once you are comfortable, you may want to try out Hatha Flow. This is just a Hatha class that moves at a faster pace. Then there’s Vinyasa, Kundalini, Bikram, Sweaty Yoga. They all offer something different, though I will tell you a secret and share that yoga in a heated room will set you on fire. It is incredibly invigorating, refreshing and empowering. Try it on for size, at least once!
Pick your yoga teacher wisely. Just like there are different kinds of yoga, there are all different kinds of yoga teachers. Some want to chant and om all through class. This kind takes it so seriously you would think Gandhi had risen from the dead and was somewhere in the back of the room. Some teachers play the Rolling Stones and Bell Biv DeVoe and spin themselves around on one arm. Others crack jokes all through class and imitate their Italian grandmother trying to feed them meatballs in addressing accepting your body as it is. Personally, I prefer rock bands and impersonations to those treating a yoga class like a memorial service slash ritual ceremony. But try some different teachers on and see what works for you.
Respect your body. A good teacher will encourage you to do only what your body allows and tell you not to try to keep up with or imitate your neighbor. As for me, I am a pretzel. I am double jointed and can bend every which way to Tuesday. But there are times when I feel like if I stay in a pose any longer, I may break an arm. It is at these times that I take a rest on my mat. Every body is different so do only what feels right to you.
Good yoga pants are worth the dollars. It took me nearly ten years to purchase a pricey but durable pair of yoga pants from Lulemon. I had been in the habit of buying the cheapest pair of exercise pants from the clearance rack at Target or Old Navy, until disaster struck. By that I mean I left my yoga class one day only to get in my car, look down, and see that my worn out black pants had split wide open. Unfortunately, I was wearing the whitest pair of granny panties you have ever seen and I knew for a fact that whoever had been behind me during downward dog had gotten a real show. From then on, I have worn high quality pants built for the pulling and stretching of a yoga class.
Don’t wear your running shorts. Remember that episode of Friends where Chandler is sitting at the coffee shop and that sweaty guy who just came in from tennis stands and lifts his leg onto the table in front of him, providing him with a full face frontal view up his shorts? There is a female equivalent of that, and it’s known as wearing running shorts to yoga class. Bear in mind that bike shorts could work, or cropped leggings, anything that is tight on your legs. But be mindful of your neighbors and please do not wear loose running shorts to your yoga class, which allow for an audience. Don’t wear jean shorts, either.
You might fall over. Handstands are a favorite in yoga classes. They are great for loosening yourself up and shaking things off. However, handstands are also tricky to pull off and I have been known to crash sideways and cause an entire row of yogis to fall over. As long as you are laughing about it, everyone else will too. So don’t worry about it, just fall where you need to.
You can read more from Meredith Hight on her blog.
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