Midweek Mental Greening
I used to be into yoga. Like, really into yoga. So much so that a few of my friends teasingly called me “Yogi.” (Though, don’t misunderstand – I was nowhere near being the “accomplished practitioner” the name suggests. I just really liked yoga and I think they thought the name was cute.)
I don’t know why I fell out of yoga, but I’ve been making some serious attempts to get started with it again. I’ve noticed, though, that despite how into yoga I was before, getting started with it again offers some of the same challenges that getting started with it the first time offered.
Why is it I want to do this again? What will I gain? Am I ready? Do I have time?
Because I’m not a “Yogi,” I’m not going to attempt to teach you how to practice yoga – especially not with a blog post. I can, however, share with you three steps to get yourself motivated and ready to start learning about – and practicing – yoga yourself.
Step 1: Research and Understand Yoga.
They say you have to jump in the water to learn how to swim, and that’s very true for a lot of things in life – including yoga. However, before you jump into anything, you need to have a basic understanding of what it is you’re jumping into and why. What is yoga? What can it do for you? Why do you want to practice yoga?
Increased flexibility, balance, and strength, along with depression and anxiety alleviation and an overall centering of the mind, work together to make the physical and mental benefits of yoga amazing. You’ll experience these things firsthand when you start practicing yoga, but in the meantime you can visit these well-organized, easy-read resources to get a taste of what’s in store (as well as how you’re going to get there):
Step 2: Prepare for Yoga.
Preparing for yoga means everything from deciding where you’re going to practice to what you’re going to wear, and trust me – your options are plentiful.
If you’re not a shy person and want the one-on-one interaction of a yoga instructor, look around for yoga classes in your area. Being around an expert will help you learn about the different kinds of postures and styles, whether you’re doing them correctly, and how to benefit most from them, as well as keep you motivated.
If you’d rather practice at home, however, there are numerous websites and videos (both online and off) to help you. Yoga Today, for example, offers numerous recordings of yoga classes. Practicing yoga at home also offers benefits a gym or center setting might not be able to, like enjoying the fresh air that comes with being outside.
The same flexibility applies for yoga wear and equipment. Whether you want to shop online or head to your nearest Wal-Mart or Target, there are plenty of places to find mats, blocks, straps, and attire; however, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need all of this. You might find you don’t need props for the yoga postures you like, and as long as the clothes you wear aren’t constricting and don’t get in your way, there’s really no reason to go out and buy a special outfit.
Step 3: Make Time for Yoga
It’s all too easy to say you want to start practicing yoga, and then get caught up with work, family, social times, and sheer laziness (this is pretty true for any new endeavor, isn’t it?).
You need to set aside a time each day, every other day, three times a week – whenever – and mark that time on your calendar. If you’re not taking a class (when you probably won’t have as much flexibility with time), choose a time that’s most convenient for you and one when you’re least likely to have distractions. And, once you schedule that time, treat it like you would any other appointment. Don’t schedule anything else during that time.
Another way to make sure you make time for yoga is to make yourself accountable. A friend of mine is currently on a fitness kick, and to help keep himself motivated he checks in with online viewers – live – to share his progress. Knowing you have someone to “report” something to will help keep you on track. You can make yourself accountable by starting an online journal, joining a yoga community, or even going all out and discussing your results live with a group of friends and strangers. Before you make yourself accountable, though, make sure you know what you’re being held accountable for. What are your goal results with yoga? Physical fitness? Mental health? A combination of both?
In the end, the number one rule to follow is to avoid getting discouraged once you get started. You probably won’t hit every move perfectly the first time, and you’ll probably be really sore in the morning. I remember a time when I first started yoga and was trying a new pose. Long story short, things very nearly went terribly wrong and I thought, This is it. This is what it’s come to. After everything I’ve been through in life, my sheer existence hangs in the balance of getting out of the Bakasana alive. Or, at least, with my face intact.
Yoga brings both physical and mental benefits, and just like training for marathons or starting therapy, it will take a little while to get to where you want to be. And, once you arrive, you’ll probably find it tough to not keep going.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Apr 2009
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Sparks, A. (2009). Getting Started With Yoga In 3 Easy Steps. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/04/08/getting-started-with-yoga-in-3-easy-steps/