Wednesday, June 5, 2013

But I Can't Start a Yoga Practice!

Of course you can't! Doing yoga requires hundreds of dollars' worth of clothing and equipment, right? You just don't have the money. Or the time. Or you're too overweight, or you're out of shape, or you're not flexible, so you can't do yoga. Right?


Of course you can do yoga. No, you're not going to look like Tara Stiles or Rodney Yee overnight, but that's not important. What is important in yoga, just like in life, is showing up at the mat, and doing what you're capable of, and boo to whatever anybody else thinks.

So if you're curious about starting yoga, here are my suggestions:

1. Buy yourself a yoga set. Or don't. You don't have to spend a small fortune on yoga gear to get started. Pretty much every yoga studio has a supply of loaners - mats, blocks, blankets, bolsters, and straps. All you have to do is show up. If you want to splurge and buy an entry-level yoga kit, check out, where for about $50, you can get a kit that includes a yoga mat, blocks, blanket, strap, and mat bag.

Don't feel like you have to spend a lot of money on your first yoga mat, either. You can just spring for a $20 mat and carrying strap that you can bring to yoga class.

2. Don't spend a fortune on "yoga clothes". I wonder how many thrifty yogis out there are totally turned off by the cost of some yoga clothes. $58 for a tank top? Really? Hey, I get the whole eco/fair trade thing, but I can't remember the last time I paid $58 for any single article of clothing.

If you want to get yourself some decent yoga clothes, think outside the box: check out your local thrift shop or resale shop for gently used workout clothes. Even just a comfortable t-shirt and running shorts are perfect for getting started with yoga.

3. Start slow. If you're one of those people that likes to jump into things headfirst, hey, go for it. I'm the same way. But if you're at all hesitant or nervous about starting a yoga practice, start slow. One class a week is PLENTY, and if you find yourself wanting more, you can either do some home practice, on your own, or with a good yoga video.

4. Read. There are so many great books out there about yoga! To get started, I recommend Yoga For Dummies (it's actually a pretty good book), Yoga Cures by Tara Stiles, or Yoga For Beginners by Mark Ansari and Liz Lark. Most of them can be downloaded for Kindle, too. If you want something a little meatier, try any of the works by Iyengar, or any version of the yoga sutras.

5. Be kind. It takes a long time to build any kind of successful practice, and one of the reasons why I love yoga is that it's all about being happy in just the present moment. Whatever you can do, whatever you can't do, it doesn't matter: just show up at your mat, bring your smile and your sense of humor, and enjoy the feel of your body.

6. Don't put it off. Someone once said to me, "But I can't start going to yoga class until I'm in better shape!" To which I say, pppphhhllllttthhhbbbttt. (Imagine me blowing a giant raspberry at you.) How exactly do you plan on getting in shape? Along with the mental and spiritual benefits, yoga is a fantastic, low-impact way to get your muscles moving and to increase lung capacity, making it easier for you to tackle that treadmill or, heck, just to take a walk around the block without getting out of breath!

Obviously, before you start any routine of physical exercise, make sure that you check with your doctor. Anyone suffering from a medical condition like heart disease, diabetes, or other physical illness should discuss yoga with your doctor. You should also make your instructor aware of any medical condition you have so that they can offer gentle modifications to you during class - you'll still get all the benefits of the asana (pose), but without a lot of physical discomfort.

And remember, always remember, if you get into a pose and feel pain, back off! Yoga is not a competitive sport, nor is it supposed to hurt. In this case, no pain results in a lot of gain. (But that's a blog for another day.)

So, what's stopping you from starting a yoga practice?

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