Advice for Beginners

Thinking about making a lifestyle change to add years to your life and life to your years? Then yoga is for you! At Arkansas Yoga Center we are always welcoming new students who have no previous yoga experience, but are excited to learn and benefit from all the advantages yoga has to offer! Often times, we get questions about supplementary at home VariYoga, what classes are best for beginners, and what to bring or wear to class. Below is everything you need to know on these topics and more! We hope you will use this information to ease any insecurities you might have about starting your journey to yoga, and remember that at Arkansas Yoga Center you will always be welcomed and accepted with open arms!

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PracticAdvice for Beginnersing VariYoga Sequences At Home

Pay attention to your energy level and physical limitations. Learn the positions and sequencing first, and then apply the breath direction.  The sequences are beneficial within themselves, and by adding coordination of breath and movement, you will take your practice to a deeper level.

Don’t take on too much at once. Keep things easy for yourself. Take one step at a time, one sequence at a time. Breath awareness will come with practice.  Develop good habits early, and they will serve you well throughout your yoga journey.

As you begin to learn the VariYoga sequences, you might experience a certain amount of discomfort, usually from tightness or fatigue. Sharp or sudden pain, however, is an indication that something is wrong. It may be an alignment issue, an injury, or a personal limitation. If you have sharp or sudden pain in a pose, back out of that particular pose or stop the sequence until you discover what is wrong and can adjust accordingly. It is not necessary to practice every one of the VariYoga sequences. Find the ones that resonate with you and practice those regularly. Add additional sequences as you progress in your practice.

The more you practice, the more you will become familiar with the poses within the sequences and the sensations of each pose. Your body may take a while to let go of long-held tensions and become more comfortable in the practice. Be patient with yourself and your progress. Even if you don’t do anything more than slow your breath down for a few moments, you’ve done something good and worthwhile.

You are undertaking a journey of getting better acquainted with your body. It is important to pay attention to the signals your body is sending, especially in the beginning stages of your practice. Whether you feel the sensations in your body, hear what your body is saying to you, or visualize in your mind’s eye what your body is communicating, the important thing is to stay open to the signals your body is sending and adjust your practice accordingly.

Some days you may feel very flexible and strong, and other days you may feel less flexible or maybe even stiff. You may have a lot of energy one day and feel less energetic or tired the next. Some days you may have excellent balance, and other days your balance may be off. Refrain from self-judgment or harsh criticism. Be patient with yourself and keep coming back to your mat. Respect the ever-changing needs of your body. Invite your body to respond to the practice and don’t command it with an iron fist. This approach will help you create a sustainable practice from the start, and your body will reward you with increased health and vitality.

Yoga is much more than putting your body in odd positions. The poses and sequences are tools to help you improve your health, strength, flexibility, stamina, etc.  Perfection is not the goal, and the poses are not an end unto themselves. Their purpose is to serve you rather than hurt you. There is no need to compromise your joints and muscles to attain the perfect expression of a pose. The process and the journey of the practice bring transformation. 

While you are not trying to create the perfect pose, it is still of primary importance that you practice proper alignment. Correct alignment helps reduce the possibility of injury. 

Throughout the VariYoga sequences, breathing is done in and out through the nose. It is recommended that the inhalation and exhalation be approximately the same length, but always breathe with ease.

Practicing Yoga in a Class

Look for a friendly and welcoming atmosphere with an accommodating teacher who is considerate, respectful, and not intimidating. Keep searching until you find a teacher and atmosphere that are right for you.  Most yoga teachers welcome questions before or after class about particular poses, use of props, or modifications for difficult poses. Let your teacher know about any particular condition or limitation that might affect your practice. He or she will be grateful you did. If a teacher adjusts you without your permission or asks you to do something you are not comfortable with, it is appropriate for you to say no, but always communicate with respect.

Arrive early enough so you can get checked in and set up without rushing or disturbing other students.   

Keep jewelry at a minimum. Refrain from perfumes and colognes. Wear comfortable clothes without tight or restrictive belts. While special yoga outfits can be fun, regular workout clothes will do just as well. 

It is recommended that ninety minutes to two hours pass between a meal and yoga practice. Avoid eating foods that cause bloating and gas. Your classmates will appreciate it, and you will reduce the risk of embarrassment.

If the studio does not provide props, it is acceptable to bring your own blanket, block, strap, and anything else you may need for your practice. Mats are available in most studios, but you will eventually want to have your own rather than use a shared mat. Mats and other props are available for purchase at many yoga centers, athletic and department stores, and online retailers.

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