Where do I even begin? Have you ever asked yourself this question and got so overwhelmed you didn't even start? I'm sure this has happened to all of us many times. The simple answer is, we start at the beginning and slowly figure out what we are doing and where we are going.
I bring this up because a lot of people have heard yoga would be good for them but have no idea where to start. A lot of self-doubt and comparisons can prevent people from giving yoga a shot. One of the most frequent things I hear is, "I can't do yoga; I'm so inflexible." Perfect! We now have a start point.
Read more : Yoga is something anyone can practise.
Yoga isn't about being as flexible as a competition gymnast or a dancer. Yoga is about finding a connection to your true self, to learn to release stress, get your life in balance, and help your mind and body feel better. The benefit of yoga is starting and then doing your best. So don't get overwhelmed because you're a certain age or body type and think that yoga is only for the young or the flexible. Yoga is for everyone!
So, where do you start? Fortunately, yoga has exploded, and there are so many resources you can use to get started. One of the best ways to get started is to try a local yoga studio and contact one of the teachers there and talk to them about what kind of yoga practice you are looking to start. People come to yoga for different reasons, and so there is a practice for any age or ability.
This way, you can find out which class you should attend based on what you are hoping to achieve. Do you want to reduce stress? Strengthen your body? Overcome injuries? Increase your overall well-being? All of these different reasons have a specific class, so don't be shy and ask a yoga teacher which class will help you achieve these goals.
If getting to a yoga studio doesn't work with your family and life commitments, there are thousands of classes online that you can use. There is free content on YouTube, there are free and paid yoga apps, and even yoga cards that help explain how to do specific postures.
The problem is there are so many different yoga styles, teachers, philosophies, you can get lost. Here is a simple guide to help you wade through and find a practice that will work for you:
1. Reducing stress
All yoga will reduce stress but if you want to focus on this aspect only, then doing a gentle practice is probably your best option. I would suggest you try restorative or yin yoga. These practices are designed to slow you down, gently stretch the body, and help you feel better in mind and body
Yoga has great physical benefits, and so if you want to strengthen your body then Vinyasa, Ashtanga or Power yoga would be good options. In these classes, you move at a steady pace through postures that link together. Expect to be challenged and even break a sweat. I often say that if you think yoga is easy, then you probably haven't tried yoga; so, if you want a challenge, then try these yoga styles.
Comment: Unplug from the world through meditation
Comment: Overcoming the winter blues
3. Overcoming injuries
If you have had some injuries, whether short term or long term, it would probably be best to work directly with a yoga teacher instead of a class. In a private yoga session, you will get an individualised programme that will work with your abilities and help you understand how yoga can help you get your life back. In a group setting, everyone will have different abilities, and you may try to do yoga poses your body isn't ready for yet. Through private lessons, you will be given what your body needs at a safe and sustainable pace.
4. General well-being
If you want to do yoga so you can feel better then there are so many options out there. You could try Hatha, Kundalini, or any other styles mentioned previously. With so many different yoga classes out there, you can explore and experiment and find the level that is right for you.
Whichever class you decide to start with, the power of yoga comes from consistently practising. You don't have to do the same yoga practice every day, get on your mat as often as you can, even if it's only 10 minutes.
It will be difficult at first because you will be doing something unfamiliar, breathing in different ways, and feel muscles and body parts you didn't know you had. Take that first step, get out of your comfort zone, and give yoga a shot; it will make everything you do in life better, with less stress, less pain and a greater understanding of yourself and your life's true purpose.
• Tim Seutter is a firefighter, yoga teacher and manager at The Loft Yoga and Pilates Studio, Whangārei.