Happy National Yoga Month! You've probably heard about all of the great benefits of practicing yoga. Now is as great a time as any to get started!
Here are a few things that can make the journey infinitely easier and more rewarding. Find the right teacher Although there’s no shortage of guided practices online, when you’re just starting out, a good teacher could make a world of difference. While yoga is a fairly safe activity to try, even the simplest poses (asanas) involve multiple, subtle changes in alignment that might be difficult to grasp without in-person guidance. A teacher is also able to help you adapt poses so that they work specifically for your body, and, if you have injuries, help you to modify or tell you which poses to avoid. They can also offer you feedback on your breathing or alignment. If you find that starting your practice at a studio is too intimidating, Firefly offers individualized at-home classes to give you even more support and guidance.
Remember that you can’t be “bad” at yoga Most yoga teachers have heard it countless times: “I’m just not flexible enough”, or “I’m just bad at
yoga.” It’s easy to understand why the misconception that you can actually be “bad at yoga” is so widespread. After all, it isn’t often that you see someone struggling through their sun salutations on social media. Yet the reality is that yoga, like the old adage says, is about the journey, not the destination. Making the commitment to show up on your mat, and making a mindful, conscious effort to go through your practice is truly all you need. In fact, not being able to do the poses perfectly gives you a great opportunity to be kind to yourself and accept where you are on the path, without judging yourself for it. Your yoga practice, in fact, can be your best ally in letting go of perfectionism.
Choose your mat well Once you’ve decided to commit to your practice, investing in a high-quality mat will help you in a number of ways. For example, a mat with the right amount of cushioning can help protect your joints, while grippy mats make it easier to keep your balance and hold poses for longer. But there’s an additional consideration when it comes to mats— the materials it’s made from. Almost half of all yoga mats are made from PVC, a plastic that causes a whole deal of pollution, and has been found to contain toxic chemicals. Since not enough research has been done on yoga mats in particular to find what effect, if any, this could have, many manufacturers have started using non-toxic, earth-friendly materials, such as cork and natural rubber. These “greener” alternatives have been found to work just as well, or better, than the traditional PVC mats. At the end of the day, your path will not look like anyone else’s, and it doesn’t have to. What is truly important in yoga is the commitment to your practice, and the willingness to keep showing up on the mat and welcoming what happens.