Never Too Late to Begin Yoga for Stress Management continued...
The first step is to give up all the preconceptions that are holding you back. First big myth: you have to be flexible to do yoga. "People who aren't flexible will actually see results faster," says Shaw. "I've taught people who are well into their 90s."
Because yoga is a practice geared to helping you become aware of your own highly individual mind/body connection, it's perfectly suited to all levels. "Anyone will get the benefits," insists Shaw.
- Take a Beginner's Class
Look for classes that specify they are for beginners or are "open" classes, which are for all levels. "It's important to find a responsible teacher that you respond to," Arbuckle says. "Because there are so many different styles of yoga out there now, you may want to try a few different types of classes until you find what you like best." Hatha yoga is one of the most flowing and gentle options, making it a good starting point; Vinyasa is more athletic; and Iyengar concentrates on proper alignment. The only type that Arbuckle wouldn't recommend for beginners is Bikram, or "hot" yoga.
- Don't Worry About Whether You're Doing It 'Right'
Don't worry that you are coming to yoga late and you'll be way behind. "It's not about doing it better or worse than someone else, it's about how you feel each stretch in your own body," says Arbuckle. The names of poses -- and chants of om -- are beside the point. The only test, according to lifelong yoga practitioners, is how relaxed you can allow yourself to feel. Now that wasn't hard, was it?
- Listen to Your Body
Yoga is a deeply personal practice and no two people can or should hold a pose in exactly the same way. It's important to work at your own level of flexibility, one that makes you feel challenged but not overwhelmed. "If a teacher is telling you to do something that doesn't feel good for your body, then don't do it," Arbuckle says. "Your body will warn you if you are about to get hurt." The key is to listen to your body, push the limits gently, but don't let yourself be overcome by ego. "Allow your body to guide you and be your friend."
- Concentrate on Your Breath