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Starting Your Yoga Practice


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➤ The yoga teacher is a qualified instructor. Anyone can teach yoga—not everyone can teach it well. Don’t be fooled by health clubs touting “yoga” classes taught by club employees who might have read a book on yoga or who think all fitness is basically the same. Some health clubs offer excellent yoga classes, but you’ll want to ask about the teacher’s training. ➤ The class is small enough that the teacher can give you individual attention. You’ll want help adjusting postures and creating a routine suited to your ability so you won’t get injured, frustrated, or bored silly. ➤ The class is conveniently scheduled and easy to get to. Otherwise, you know what will happen. Eventually, going to class will be too much trouble and it won’t last. If you don’t like your first class, your first teacher, or the way you felt after your first yoga workout, don’t give up. Some people overdo it their first time out and vow never to practice yoga again. If you can’t relate to your teacher; if you pull a muscle; or if the class environment is high-pressure, competitive, or unpleasant in any way, you just haven’t found the right class or the right teacher for you. Or maybe you weren’t completely open to the experience—could your competitive nature have overshadowed the benefits you were receiving? Was the teacher encouraging a competitive attitude, or was the teacher inattentive to your needs? Maybe you couldn’t understand what the teacher wanted you to do. (Teachers are human, too.) Many teachers are grounded in the noncompetitive philosophy, but some still see yoga simply as physical fitness, with all its competitive aspects. Many are excellent at doling out individual help and counsel, but others may have classes that are too large for a really personal approach. The most important thing you can do for your yoga practice is to find a teacher you feel comfortable with, so keep looking until you find him or her. And remember what you have learned so far: Yoga is about fitness for and knowledge of your whole self, not just your body. The bottom line? Be patient in your search. It may take a while to find the right class and the right teacher for you, but many yogis believe that when the student is ready, the right teacher will appear. Keep your mind and heart open.


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