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Starting Your Yoga Practice


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Where Do You Practice Yoga?

So you’ve decided to give yoga a try. Great! Now what? Now is the time to make a game plan. Decide how you would like to proceed with your yoga. Do you want to take a class and reap the benefits of a qualified instructor? Do you want to try yoga on your own for a while, then consider a class later if you like what you experience? Maybe you want to go all out and book passage to Calcutta! Whatever course you choose to take, make sure you have the necessary preparation so you can get the most from your yoga experience. Your personality, your schedule, and your general inclinations will all have an effect on the type of yoga that will serve you most effectively.

Choosing a Yoga Class

Probably the best way to start out with yoga is to take a class. You can learn a lot from books and videos, but a real live teacher can address your personal challenges and direct you in ways a book can’t. (But don’t stop reading this book yet! We still have a lot left to tell you.) Consider the following reasons to take a yoga class: ➤ A teacher can see you from all angles, making minor adjustments in your posture to help you get the most from each position. ➤ A teacher can advise you on the best postures for your particular physical challenges, such as a stiff neck, lower back pain, or tennis elbow. ➤ If you have a class to attend at a prescheduled time, you may be less likely to put off or skip your practice. And regular exercise is the most beneficial for anyone. ➤ Other students learning yoga along with you can offer peer support and camaraderie, in addition to your teacher’s encouragement. ➤ A class and a qualified teacher in conjunction with personal practice and lots of books on the subject will teach you more about yoga than any one of these methods alone. Yoga classes vary greatly in their format and approach, so if you do decide to take a class, you’ll first want to do a bit of shopping. The right yoga class is highly personal—what you love, your friends may not benefit from at all, and vice versa. If you are used to a highenergy, aerobic workout, you may initially be impatient with yoga’s slower pace, although it will serve as an excellent balance for your life. If you’re generally inactive, you may benefit more from a yoga class where steady, flowing yoga movements get the heart pumping. You also might be confused about the wide array of yoga methods. The difference is largely due to who has most directly influenced the teacher or under which method the teacher was trained. Before signing up for a class, ask the teacher which school of yoga he or she practices, and then ask him or her to explain the basic philosophy of that particular school or method. Make sure any yoga class you consider meets the following criteria:


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