Yoga is good for the body, the mind, and the soul — and quite an amusing activity at that. Yes, a lot of fit Lululemon-clad women do yoga, but you don’t have to fit that description (see what I did there?)! Yoga is a peaceful exercise suitable for anybody — regardless of their age, fitness level, gender, or brand of clothing. It’s fun to do at any time of day and with any level of company. So, how would one get started?
Google it: Before you delve into the therapeutic depths of yoga, realize that there are over 20 different types that you could choose from. Beach yoga is very meditative and great for the seaside-loving. Another type, bikram (aka hot yoga) is done indoors in a steamy near 100 degree hot room, which promotes sweating out of toxins and relaxation of muscles. A third, Baptiste Power Vinyasa includes some powerful aspects of martial arts. Of all the types of yoga, there may be some that are more suitable and enjoyable for you, and others not so much. Don’t be overwhelmed though this quiz will help you figure out where to begin.
Get the right gear: Yoga pants are of course optional, but make sure you dress well for stretching, bending, and comfort. Good clothes for yoga will be breathable and flexible as you move, and similar to what you might wear for other athletic activities. For the most part, yoga is practiced barefoot, so no specialized footwear is required. However, under your feet you’ll want a good yoga mat, or sticky mat. This will provide some cushioning from the hard wood floor (good for your knees!) and some grip so your hands and feet won’t slip. More intense yogis might add other equipment, such as blocks or straps, for support for harder poses, but beginning with just clothes and a mat is just fine.
Go and practice: Find a book, video, class, or lesson to get started with yoga (there are plenty of yoga studios in Santa Monica or anywhere else in LA). You should pick something that will teach you how to do different poses correctly, and also advise on how to warm up, order the poses, and how long to hold them. More importantly, your instruction should include comments on how to breathe well and stretch your body gently. We’re big fans of the child’s pose! While you do yoga, try to disconnect from your worries and busyness to focus on your breath — sometimes playing relaxing nature music in the background helps with this.
Additional musings: Yoga on a full stomach (whether food or liquid) is no fun, so keep this in mind when you’re planning to practice yoga later in the day. While you may feel silly not knowing how to do the poses at first, know that all yogis look a little funny upside down, and there’s nothing to be self-conscious about! The exercises should give you tranquility and help you love your own body and mind. Also, enjoy slow, deep breathing as you move from pose to pose. Most every pose has easier and harder variations, so do what is suitable for you, asking the instructor or perusing a book to know what the other forms might be like.
Good luck, young yogi!