Easing Gently into Yoga

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While yoga is more gentle than weightlifting, jogging, or heavy-impact work, new practitioners still need to make a careful beginning. This isn’t something you can rush into and expect to learn all at once. But if you take it slowly and ease into your first yoga postures with care and mindfulness, you can quickly develop your practice until it includes more strenuous and involved poses.

How you dress can aid your practice in going well. Don’t wear loose or floppy clothes, because they might get in the way of your movements. Be sure to wear something comfortable that allows you to move in every direction. Bare feet are best for getting a good grip on your mat and for exercising the feet themselves. But of course you can use footwear or socks if the circumstances dictate.

You’ll need a mat or rug, and perhaps a cushion for occasional support. Make sure you have enough room to spread the mat, and that you’re in a quiet enough place that you won’t be distracted. The peacefulness of your mind is as important, in yoga, as the gentle flexing of your muscles.

As you slowly begin, remember not to push too hard, but let your body ease gradually into simple postures you can handle. Work your way up slowly. Second, let yourself warm up with some simple stretches before starting on anything more complicated. Afterward, give yourself time to relax and meditate, to wind down.

As you go into poses, move into them slowly, and be aware of your muscle movements. Don’t force anything. And above all things, breathe. Slow, deep breathing through the postures is essential, and will help you maintain the calm and smooth movement that will be most effective. If you exercise careful mindfulness as you begin, you will soon become proficient and confident, and will derive great benefits from your ongoing yoga practice.

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