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Tips for starting a yoga practice

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As the year draws to a close, many people start to make resolutions or decide to live a healthier life in the year to come. For many, this can mean starting or reinvigorating a yoga practice. There are some things to consider before just jumping into a practice blindly.

Here are a few tips to help when starting a yoga practice:

  • Yoga is a practice. It can take years to develop the strength, flexibility and focus to perform some of the more advanced poses. Don't get discouraged if headstand is not happening in that first class...or first 15 classes.
  • Check out different studios and teachers. There is a class for everyone out there and every class, and teacher, are different. Try out different styles, places and teachers and try to find the right fit. When people hate yoga after one or two classes, it is usually because they haven't found the right teacher...yet.
  • Be on time. It is one thing to be late every once in awhile, but always being late can disrupt the class and is disrespectful not only to the teacher, but to the other students. Basic rules of being considerate apply in the yoga studio. In addition, turning cell phones off, talking loudly in class, wearing perfume or oils and making a bunch of noise if leaving before or during the final resting pose are discouraged.
  • No comparisons. It's one thing to look at what other people in class are doing to figure out what to do, but if beating oneself up because the other person is in a more advanced level of any posture, that is not a good idea. Everybody's practice is different. Every body is different. Making comparisons between people's practices in a self defeating way is not doing anyone any good.
  • Relax. It's just yoga. Yes, it can allow one to discover his or herself and find connection to the body, mind and spirit, but try to have fun with it. The more tense one is, the harder it is to open. Find ease through the breath and the movement. What works today may not work tomorrow, and vice versa. Just enjoy each ride.
  • Keep practicing. Rome was not built in a day. Yoga can be physically demanding. But, it will get easier. Then it will get harder. And on and on.

Yoga can be a magically transformative practice. One may start to get healthier physically, but with continued practice, discovers many calming effects on the mind, inner peace and self discovery. Yoga is much more than just a physical practice, it is a life practice of connection, openness and love.

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