Are You Ready to Try Yoga?
Flexibility, stress relief and improved health are just a few of the reasons that millions of Americans practice yoga.
Story Written By Trina Ferrantino
Have you always wanted to try yoga? You’re not alone. Approximately 40 million adults practice yoga in America. Nearly 40 percent of all Americans have practiced yoga at some point in their lives, and nearly 80 million Americans will likely practice yoga sometime in the next 12 months. Maybe it’s time you joined them.
The yoga community has become more diverse as it has grown and now encompasses all age groups, so there is likely a class just right for you in your area. Did you know there are more than 15 million yoga practitioners older than age 50 and about 10 million men practicing yoga? Even kids are getting into mindfulness. Interestingly, most yoga practitioners — about 98% — consider themselves to be beginner or intermediate level practitioners.
Most people who begin the ancient practice of yoga do so for the positive impact to their health, including stress relief and for the pure enjoyment of yoga itself. Regular yoga practice can reduce your stress levels, give you a healthier heart and stronger cardiovascular capabilities plus increase your flexibility, which is important to aging well. Don’t worry if you’re not flexible now. That’s one of the reasons you come to yoga, and you’ll notice folks in class who can’t touch their toes either! You will begin to notice favorable changes in your flexibility within your first eight weeks of practicing as your body begins to open up — especially in your shoulders, hips and hamstrings.
Given the growing popularity of yoga, there are a lot of variations in class techniques and training. Try a few classes along with different instructors to find the one that feels right for you. Arrive a bit early and introduce yourself to the instructor. Avail yourself to props such as blankets, blocks and straps to you gain the most from your yoga experience. Props can help you stretch more deeply and relax more fully in each position while achieving proper alignment.
You may be surprised by soreness after your first few sessions; however, the lengthening of your muscles followed by the deep release contributes to greater flexibility in your joints and muscles, which is precisely what you’re after. Be sure to head back to the studio to stretch out those muscles in between classes.
The concept of a “beginners mind” is highly regarded in yoga. It means you should approach yoga without preconceived notions of what you can or cannot accomplish or poses you may or may not be able to do. Instead, opt to maintain a positive outlook by leaving your expectations at the door. Focus on your breathing and keep your mind engaged to learn.
If you’d like to try a local yoga class, Body Edge Fitness in Ocean Isle Beach (bodyedgenc.com) offers Beginner Yoga classes. Their beginner yoga class is designed for those newer to yoga or those wanting a gentle class. The class introduces foundational yoga postures, teaches you how to breathe and helps you feel more comfortable in the yoga practice. Gentle yoga lies somewhere along the spectrum between flow and a class that is mostly seated or with long holds (such as restorative or Yin yoga). It offers nurturing, kindness and compassion for the body. Regardless of whether you are injured or healthy, young or old, pregnant or not, this class will restore your well-being. Daytime and evening classes are offered. Namaste!