As beginners, we often associate yoga with seemingly impossible, body-twisting poses.  “I can’t even touch my toes. Yoga is not for me.”  Sounds familiar? Or maybe you’ve been considering yoga for the longest time but haven’t started yet.

The Hardest Step is Set by You

We’ll cut right to the chase. The most difficult step is always the starting line. As humans, we are constantly hungry for ritual, routine and practice. The reality is the hardest part isn’t the most complex. Beginning something is often hurdled by a plethora of excuses we set for as to why now is not the right time.

It’s time we shift our energy to tell ourselves why we can’t wait any longer. Yoga isn’t hard. It’s effortless and incredibly rewarding. It’s the simple practice of uniting with yourself, utilizing your mind, breath and body.

So never mind if you cannot perform fancy backbends or are about to attempt this practice at 40, just ease your mind and erase all yoga-related myths from your system. The only one watching you as you perform yoga – is you. The time is now and this journey is going to bring you immense joy and peace. You deserve it!

Starting Now

If this is your first time, your best bet would be to learn yoga under the guidance of a yoga teacher. A yoga teacher can help you perform each technique correctly, allowing you to perform asanas (postures) with correct form and dodge your chances of injury. Note that some of the techniques or philosophies taught in a yoga class may seem unfamiliar to you. Keep an open mind during each session to help expand your vision and boost your yogic experience.

If joining a class isn’t a possibility right now, consider using online resources offered by websites, apps and YouTube channels. Some of our favorites are:

Be Prepared

Before heading out for your first yoga session, make sure you are dressed comfortably. Avoid belts, jewelry and any item that may restrict movement. The same applies for when you’re practicing at home. You’ll also want to have a bottle of water and towel in hand – yoga classes can get sweaty!

It’s encouraged that you perform yoga on an empty stomach, or have a light meal 2-3 hours before your session. Keeping hydrated throughout the day can help in the release of toxins in your body while you perform yoga.

The Benefits

Yoga offers a myriad of benefits to the human mind, body and spirit – but this isn’t news. In this section, we will talk about what these benefits are and how they can help elevate your wellbeing:

  1. Yoga challenges you

Yoga asana is defined as Sthira Sukham Asanam in ancient yogic text. It means do as much as you can comfortably and then stretch a little more. Use your breath for reference. When breath is light and long, muscles relax and when breath is uneven, you are over-exerting yourself.

Therefore, we recommend going beyond your comfort zone – but only slightly. This helps spice up your yoga routine, keeping you challenged and interested.

  1. Yoga is for everybody

Regardless of where you are in your yoga journey, be happy with it and avoid comparing yourself with others in class. Each of us is unique with different body types and varying levels of expertise. While some may perform an asana with ease, others may struggle and require more time to get there. Maintain a calm mind during your yoga practice and do not pressure yourself to exert too much. Your strength and flexibility will only improve with yoga.

You may feel some soreness during the first few days of your yoga practice. Talk to your instructor if pain persists. The goal is to maintain a regular yoga routine and practice with patience.

  1. Yoga builds muscle strength, boosts flexibility and prevents back pain

Strong muscles don’t only look good, they also perform a lot better. They make daily tasks such as carrying or pushing objects a lot easier and they protect us from falling, back pain and arthritis during our older days.

You may not be able to touch your toes on your first day, but if you stick with it, you will begin to feel a gradual loosening in your body and perform poses more effectively overtime. You’ll also notice your aches and pains beginning to disappear. This is because yoga helps reduce tension in the body.

For example, tight hamstrings can cause the lumbar spine to flatten, resulting in back pain. Lack of flexibility in connective tissue and muscles can lead to poor posture.

With yoga, you build strength and flexibility. When you solely rely on strength training at the gym using weights, you may gain strength while compromising on your flexibility. Yoga helps keep both in balance.

  1. Yoga protects your joints

Yoga takes your joints through their complete range of motion, preventing degenerative conditions such as arthritis and easing disability by massaging and nourishing parts of cartilage that are not being used regularly.

When certain areas of cartilage aren’t being used, they can be susceptible to wearing out. Your joint cartilage acts like a sponge. It can only absorb fresh nutrients when existing fluid is squeezed out and new nutrient-rich fluid is soaked up.

  1. Yoga improves spine health

Spinal disks are shock absorbers between your vertebrae that can compress nerves. These disks rely on movement to obtain their nutrients. Yoga asana such as twists, backbends and forward bends are excellent ways of keeping your spinal disks well-nourished and healthy.

  1. Yoga boosts lymphatic drainage and overall immunity

When you stretch and contract muscles through asana, you’re also moving your organs around. This aids in lymph drainage – a fluid packed with immune cells. Better lymphatic drainage helps fight infection, dispose of toxins from the body and even annihilate cancer cells.

  1. Yoga lowers blood pressure

According to one study published in the British medical journal, the Lancet, performing a simple yoga pose such as Savasana on your couch can lead to a significant drop in blood pressure.

  1. Yoga alleviates stress

Yoga helps lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to a stressful situation. When cortisol levels remain high, they can tax your immune system, affect your memory and cause permanent changes in your brain chemistry.

Excessive release of cortisol is also linked to depression, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and osteoporosis. High cortisol levels are notorious for causing abdominal fat, a marker for high diabetes and heart disease risk.

Takeaway

In commercial medicine, patients are often passive recipients of the care given. Yoga provides you with the tools that help you achieve a positive change.

Like any other practice, you’ll have to commit to yoga or its long-term benefits. What’s great about yoga is that you are involved in your own care and are in power to bring change. Knowing that you affect this change can give you hope – which alone can heal.