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According to the Yoga Alliance, 28% of Americans (in 2016) have practiced yoga at some point in their lives. That means many more are at least familiar with this form of exercise, because they know someone who practices. So why wait? It’s time to take away any mystique from those who have yet to try it!
Yoga is a brilliant cross-training triple-threat that builds strength, flexibility, and core in a low-impact, variable intensity workout—which means anyone can do it. Of course, to receive all yoga has to offer, you must also take into account the mental side of the practice. Check out these impressive benefits of yoga when you engage in a well-rounded, regular practice:
Now, how should you begin? Here are the basics, from what to wear and bring, to how to choose the right experience and instructor.
Shoes: Most yoga is performed barefoot, so feel free to leave your shoes at home (or outside the studio door). However, if you have a foot injury that prevents you from being barefoot or you’re simply freaked out by the thought of having your tootsies exposed, there are options. Check out Nike’s yoga shoe collection. Or, you can invest in a pair of Yoga Socks that help you grip, balance, and train your feet. ToeSox and Gaim’s Yoga Socks are both great options.
Pants/Shorts: There’s no need to run out and spend $100 on a pair of special yoga pants when you’re getting started. Simply choose comfortable pants or shorts that stretch. Many yoga goers prefer the tighter pants to help check alignment and to keep everything covered when legs are in the air, but you can choose looser-fitting pants or tights (long or short) as well. On that note, if you choose looser shorts, please wear a compression garment underneath so you’re not exposed!
Tops: A fitted top is best to ensure it stays in place while in a variety of poses. You will want to choose a moisture-wicking fabric, especially if you’ll be participating in a heated yoga room. A wrap or long sleeve shirt might may be helpful to throw on during Savasana (final resting pose), as some participants tend to get chilled during this portion of class.
Other: If you have longer hair, you will most likely want to keep it off your neck for comfort. Whatever hairstyle you choose, be sure it will be comfortable when you are lying down. If you are a sweater, a headband could be a great addition to your up-do.
There are a few key items you’ll want to make sure you bring to your first yoga class.
Mat: A yoga mat is essential. Most studios will have mats available if you don’t have your own (be prepared to rent the mat at private studios for $1-$2). But, if you’re going to be going to yoga regularly, investing in a quality yoga mat is a smart move. The mat you choose should be non-slip and provide a bit of cushion. Use this Yoga Mat Comparison Chart to help you make your choice.
Towel: You’ll need a towel to wipe away sweat throughout your practice. There are many microfiber towels available to fit the size of your mat (which is necessary in hot yoga classes).
Water Bottle: Be sure to stay hydrated during your yoga practice by keeping a water bottle handy. Choose a spill-proof bottle (you will knock it over at some point) and keep it near the front of your yoga mat.
With so many options available, it may seem overwhelming to even get started. Here are two easy steps.
Here’s a quick primer on the most common types of classes you’ll find:
Of course, there are many more types, hybrids, and specialty yoga classes available. You’ll want to start out with a beginner class (even if you are active already) to learn poses, language, and the ins and outs of practicing yoga. Use this fun Yoga Personality Quiz to find the best style of yoga for you.
You’ll want to find a qualified yoga instructor to help guide you. Not all yoga instructors are created equal. Use the Yoga Alliance Registry to search for the most qualified instructors in your area. Beyond their qualifications, you’ll need to find a style or personality that works for you. Ask friends and family for references and try a few instructors before finding the one that is perfect for you!
Yoga has its own etiquette. To ensure a pleasant yoga experience, remember…
Yoga is a wonderful addition to any workout regime. If you find the right class, a good instructor, and invest some time into learning the basics, you’ll quickly experience the physical and mental benefits of yoga.
This post was previously published on the Anytime Fitness blog. PumpOne and Anytime Fitness are both owned by Self Esteem Brands.
PumpOne’s complete workout guidance, tracking and scheduling tools include more than 1,000 workouts, or you can create your own sessions from 7,000 exercise images and videos. Download it from the App Store or Google Play, or sign up at PumpOne.com.