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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Tips Before Your First Yoga Class

Yoga has become very popular for a few decades in the West. The practice of yoga has spread widely on social networks, in the media, or via online course platforms. As a result, there are more and more studios offering yoga classes for beginners.

The reasons for this? Most often a stressful living environment, and/or a search for more well-being and serenity.

But you can quickly feel lost in the flood of different approaches. We don’t always know where to start, what form of yoga to choose, whether to take classes…

Discovering yoga
Yoga is an ancestral discipline with its origins in India, the first traces of which appeared more than 5,000 years ago.

In the West, it is often reduced to its only physical aspect: the practice of asanas. However, yoga is much broader than its physical practice alone.

The term “Yoga” means union. It is “the union of the individual soul with the universal spirit”. We can summarize this somewhat abstract phrase by the union of the body with the mind, and of the mind with the soul.

Yoga is a universal culture, which is addressed to all humanity. Even if you’re just starting out, this shouldn’t scare you or put you off, quite the contrary.

Yoga works on the whole individual
In reality, there are as many ways of understanding yoga as there are humans on this earth.

The postures that are commonly associated with yoga, called asanas, are only the tip of the iceberg (but not the least important). But this is not just physical activity.

Going to a yoga studio to take a class like you would do abs and glutes at the gym will not be of much interest.

As well as forcing yourself to the physical practice of yoga without understanding a minimum of the why and how. Above all, you risk sinking into boredom or perplexity.

The myriad of benefits one can derive from yoga come from understanding it.

But to understand, it’s like for everything: you have to study.

I will not list here all the foundations and teachings of yoga, which alone require a whole book.

On the other hand, I will give you some important advice to help you take the step towards the discovery and practice of yoga. And you can see it for yourself, it’s a wonderful adventure!

My 3 yoga tips for beginners
1. Study, read, learn
Yoga is vast and can seem complex because it involves all the parts that constitute the individual and the living.

You have to make the effort to take an interest in it to understand the basics. Both to assimilate the lessons but also to derive great benefits over time.

It is not an express method, but a personal journey with many benefits, which everyone approaches at their own pace and in their own way.

I strongly recommend that you read The Way to Inner Peace by B.K.S. Iyengar. This book will help you understand the foundations of yoga and begin your personal reflection.

2. Go ahead and start practicing yoga!
Above all, do not wait to have a certain physical level to practice.

You can decide today to roll out your mat and start your moving meditation.

The book The Yoga Bible will greatly help you to select the postures that will be beneficial to you. And you can always adapt them according to your current physical possibilities. Start with a few minutes, experiment, feel…

Gradually your practice will take shape, and your reflection will deepen…

Always remember that there is no ideal level or age to start yoga and reap all its benefits.

And you shouldn’t believe that you absolutely have to be flexible to practice (read my article on this question of flexibility in yoga)

3. Test different approaches…
Yoga has many facets and its practices are varied. So be curious! And don’t hesitate to explore new avenues.

For example, hear about great yogis (many of them are frequent podcast guests, such as Sadhguru in Brian Rose’s London Real podcast).

Or, if there are beginner yoga classes near you, why not walk through the door of their studio? You will be able to try their different courses.

Maybe being in a group will reassure you in your practice… Or maybe you will feel better alone. Once again, everyone has their own approach.

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