I’m regularly asked for advice about starting yoga, and there’s no right or wrong route but these are my top tips that have both helped me deepen my practice and what I’ve learnt seeing students grow from the start of their yoga journey.
1. Do little and often: There’s no problem taking a yoga class once a week, but you may find your body responds a little faster if you practice more regularly even if it’s for a shorter time. The practice doesn’t need to be intense or a ‘workout’, 3 times a week (or more) of a shorter softer practice could really change the game if you’re looking to increase flexibility. Going through some warm-up poses and sun salutations are all you need to start to access a deeper range of motion.
2. Your body and mind respond to routine: Trial out practicing at a set time of day. Maybe that’s each morning, or when you get home after work. Your body has a muscle memory and you’ll start to crave the movement. The regularity helps you to stick to it and find consistency in your practice.
3. It takes time: If you haven’t been accessing some of these muscles for the most part of your life it’s going to take some time for the body to open and release tension stored up. It really varies in each body, but it can even take years to see the effects from yoga. Practice taking the pressure off yourself and your body, it’s ok to take your time and over time you will see changes.
4. Add some yin yoga to your practice: The body is complex and there all different ways to open the body and release tension. There aren’t many practices that get deep into the fascia tissue which is interconnected through the body and stores toxins and tension. This is a more passive practice where you can see huge benefits around health and range of motion by releasing tension that can’t be accessed through more active forms of Hatha or Vinyasa/Power yoga. You may be surprised how your body responds and increases flexibility by complimenting your practice with yin.
5. Every body is different: Stop comparing yourself to others. Your body and bone structure are unique to you. There may be a physical limitation beyond your control that may mean some poses are inaccessible or even painful in places they aren’t supposed to be. That’s ok because there’s no one way of doing things, the pose is correct when you can safely express it in your body. It’s a learning process to get to know your body on a level you didn’t before. Forcing yourself into a shape that is aesthetically pleasing may not be what is right for your body, that’s your experiment. Don’t be afraid to ask a teacher for variations if something doesn’t feel right.