The media usually portrays a yoga practitioner as a very thin and flexible 20-something with her foot behind her head and an angelic smile on her face. No wonder many people think they cannot do yoga! Yoga helps you become more flexible and can even stop or reverse the aging process. We can’t promise you will ever look like that model on the magazine cover, but we can promise you will feel better when you practice yoga.
Unlike many other forms of exercise, yoga works your joints and muscles very gently. This leads to greater flexibility over time. There should never be pain when practicing yoga. This slow, gentle stretching allows the muscles to stretch and lengthen without tears or injuries.
Another major benefit of a yoga practice is learning deep breathing. Simply drawing in a deeper breath helps you feel better as you are getting more oxygen to your brain. More oxygen in your body also helps keep your internal organs healthy, especially your heart and lungs. Exhaling fully helps to clear the body of tension and toxins. Over time, these two combine to bring back youthfulness.
Finding the right yoga practice for your body is the most important aspect of beginning a yoga practice. If you have never practiced yoga or have had an injury or are just a bit out of shape, you want to be sure you look for a “gentle” or “beginner’s” yoga class. I strongly recommend that all people start with a beginner’s class, regardless of their fitness level. The beginner’s class is where you learn the basic poses that are the foundation of your yoga practice. You don’t start reading a book in the middle, which would be similar to starting a yoga practice with an intermediate or advanced class. You need to start at the beginning and work your way up to the more advanced levels. This gives your body and your mind time to accommodate the poses and internalize them as well.
So, you’ve decided to take a yoga class, but you really can’t get on the floor any more. Or, if you can get down on the floor, you are not sure you can get back up. There is a form of yoga for you, too! Chair yoga is offered seated in a chair or using the chair for balance. A complete yoga practice can be achieved while seated in a chair. Be sure to see what sort of qualifications the instructor has. They should be certified and it is very helpful if they have taken further education in chair yoga. This will let you know they are serious about teaching yoga.
There are many places to practice yoga – from dedicated studios, to community centers, to churches, to gyms. Take some time to research the type of yoga you are interested in and then see what sort of classes are offered in your community. Be sure to check the qualifications of the instructor. Leading a yoga class is an art and a good instructor will have certification.
You are never too old to begin a yoga practice. My oldest student is 95 years young and hates to miss a single class. In India, 50 years of age is considered an optimum time to begin a yoga practice, signifying a new and more informed stage of life. Whatever your age or level of fitness, you can practice yoga!