Yoga For Beginners – Quieting the Inner Pessimist
You’ve heard the buzz about yoga and would like to give it a try. However, before you can even touch your toes, your inner-pessimist pipes up: “Yoga is for young people,” or “It’s too expensive,” or “I’m about as flexible as a 2 x 4.” If this sounds familiar, it’s time to quell that inner voice. Yoga is a wonderful, completely accessible activity for virtually everyone regardless of age, current fitness level and financial means.
You’re never too old to practice yoga. Rather than using weights, machines or other cumbersome devices, yoga builds strength, stamina and flexibility by using your own body. Begin at a level at which you’re comfortable and work at your own pace. Eventually, you might want to intensify your practice, but it’s up to you. Yoga is totally non-competitive; timelines and progress charts are not required. A big part of yoga is listening to your own body. If you experience any pain or discomfort, simply pull back.
Yoga is ideal for people of all ages, especially those over 50. Aging causes some of us to lose our sense of balance which can lead to falls and bone fractures. Yoga postures challenge our center of gravity in a controlled, safe setting, and with regular practice we can thwart those dizzy, off-centered sensations. Yoga is a great antidote to sedentary lifestyles by improving circulation, and also bone density at a time when osteoporosis becomes more common. These are just a few of its many health benefits.
Anyone can do yoga, from world-class athletes to those allergic to exercise. Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar attributes his longevity in the sport (over 20 years) to yoga, while tennis star Andy Murray believes yoga gave him the edge over reigning champ Roger Federer.
But what about us mere mortals? Even if you have the flexibility of a marble slab, you have to start somewhere. Maybe on Monday, you’re touching your knees, but with daily practice, you’re half-way down your shins by Friday. Continue practicing, and 2 weeks later, you just might reach the floor.
Yoga is a low cost activity. While some people like the community feel of a class, you can easily maintain a home practice with a modest upfront investment. Many yoga props are available to aid in flexibility; however, the only essential item is a yoga mat which will run you anywhere from $ 15 to $ 50. Also, unless you’ve memorized lots of asanas, it’s advisable to own at least 1 yoga DVD for guidance. You can select from a huge catalog of yoga DVDs designed for various levels of practice (beginner, intermediate, advanced), yoga styles and time lengths.
Still not sure if you’re ready to learn yoga? Order a book on yoga from Amazon or your local library and attempt a few poses. And if you think you hear that inner-pessimist, tell it to pipe down and enjoy the journey!
Jenn Gaglione is a Cleveland, Ohio writer and yoga enthusiast. She has been practicing both at home and in local studios for over 12 years. Her favorite yoga pose is Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose); least favorite is Utkatasana (Chair Pose). Jenn’s blog, http://www.TheYogaDojo.com features news and tips plus special offers on yoga props, accessories and chakra jewelry.
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