Has a pain in your back suddenly presented itself with no warning? Or, are you finding it almost impossible to focus in the office without your morning coffee? Do you still feel last night’s dinner heavy in your gut? If your answer has been yes to any or all of these questions, then yoga might just be for you.
Yoga in Sanskrit means "Union," a reference to the state of body–mind–spirit unity achieved through the discipline of the body and breath. This holistic approach has been changing the lives of millions of people for over five thousand years!
Alessandra Ambrosio, Katy Perry, and Adam Levine are just a few of the Hollywood A-listers who practice yoga 2-3 times a week.
Aside from keeping his endurance high and his sexy tattoo-ridden abs in check, yoga brings so much more to Adam’s plate. The Maroon 5 frontman tells Men’s Health US magazine in an interview, “Yoga has given me the ability to be more focused and make better decisions that come from a clear place.”
For whatever reason you choose to try yoga, here are a few tips to start your own practice today:
You don't have to be flexible.
As a yoga teacher, I meet people all the time who say they cannot do yoga because they are not flexible, so they don’t even try. But, there’s a big chance that their understanding of yoga is just what they see on the pages of magazines. So, while crossing both ankles behind your head may look awesome, it probably took that model years of dedicated practice to master. Every yoga studio offers yoga for different levels, so if you are new to it, try a beginner’s class. These classes are sequenced to suit people of all flexibility and strength levels. It is all about listening to your body, respecting it, and giving it a nice 75-minute stretch. The benefits of strength and flexibility are consequences of a regular yoga practice, not pre-requisites.
We all know that one of the best parts about yoga is dressing up in those bright leggings and flattering tank tops.
When picking out an outfit for your first class, confidence is key. Find comfortable pieces to match your body type and mood. Having a good arm day? Go for a halter top with straps close to your neck (as opposed to farther out by your shoulders) to keep them from rolling in when you lift your arms up in class. Had a little too much to eat over lunch and need to hide the tummy? We’ve all been there, so just don a top that is flowy by your midsection. Just make sure it is long enough to tuck in to your pants for some inversions like downward facing dog. That way, your shirt doesn’t come falling onto your face. As for bottoms, thick leggings with a good hold are your best bet. They provide good traction when you’re trying to bind or balance even when you're sweaty.
What kind of mat should I use?
Before shelling out anywhere between P2,000 to P5,000 on a mat, call your studio first to ask if they have ones you can borrow. This can come in handy since some places like Echo Yoga Shala lend out top quality Manduka mats for free. Give yourself a few weeks to see if the practice is for you and to know exactly what mat is best for you.
For the pasmado or super sweaty yogi, Jade Yoga mats are your safest bets. For the traveling yogi, a lightweight 3mm Lululemon mat might just be it. For the addicted yogi who finds herself on the mat everyday, my personal favorite is the Manduka Pro Black mat. It has unparalleled thickness for extra support, has just the right amount of traction, and is very durable with a lifetime warranty!
What are the benefits?
The beauty of yoga is that it's an exercise that can be done by anyone, regardless of age. It also helps you become stronger, more balanced, and centered—both physically and mentally. Each class will have options for yogis at every level, so the teacher can evaluate your strengths and limitations.
Be prepared to challenge your core and build strength. As you stretch, you promote the flow of synovial fluid (the fluid that reduces friction between your joints), blood, and oxygen to the different organs and joints of your body which makes you more mobile inside. As a result, you are less susceptible to sudden strains, cramps, and injuries. In time, being “inflexible” will be a thing of the past and touching your toes or even back-bending will be a cinch.