Yoga is an ancient physical, mental, and spiritual practice that dates back over 5 thousand years. While the practice of yoga originated in the Indian subcontinent, it is now practiced all over the world as more and more people are gravitating towards the millennia-old practice as a way to keep themselves physically active, mentally present, and spiritually centred.
In its most authentic form, yoga is an entire philosophy of wellness. The physical practice itself involves poses and postures, and careful understanding of the body to flow smoothly from one to another. These movements can be practiced at varying speeds, for different durations, and in many combinations and levels of difficulty over a period of time.
Yoga, like Ayurveda, is a lifestyle choice that offers something to everybody. It is important, however, to identify the kind of practice that suits your needs and ensure that your introduction to the practice is safe, constructive, and ultimately valuable.
So, how can you identify what is right for you?
Find the right teacher
If you are trying yoga for the first time, make sure you do so with an experienced teacher, who will help you understand the basics of alignment, weight distribution, and an injury-free practice. Make sure to communicate well with your instructor on any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions. It is also important to let them know if you are struggling, as well as if something is coming too easily to you; yoga will always offer an alternative to a movement to challenge you in a meaningful way.
Understand your body
With yoga, as indeed with any other movement practice like sports, dance, or martial arts, it is crucial that you understand your own body. Only you can fully tell when it is time to stop or when you can push yourself a little more. Pay attention to your heart rate, body temperature, and mindfulness during a practice. If you are in pain, dizzy, fatigued, or in pain, it is important to stop, communicate with your teacher, and identify an adjustment that will allow you to continue safely and comfortably.
Try a few different kinds of yoga
Different schools of yoga – hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, and yin yoga to name a few – approach the practice in different ways; addressing different concerns. For those looking for a high-energy class that will get the heart pumping, Ashtanga may be best. For those looking for a calmer practice that challenges the mind as much as the body, Yin yoga could be the right choice. Hatha yoga classes offer something in-between, taking the practitioner to a high-cardio peak before bringing them down to a restful state with pranayama and yoga nidra. Give yourself a class or two of each style before identifying the one you liked most!
It’s okay to quit
Like with everything else, it is possible that yoga simply isn’t for you. Having approached it with an open mind, you may find that you are not inclined towards a yoga practice. If that is the case, there are plenty of other physical and mindfulness practices that may suit you better – swimming, running, weight-training, dance, walking, martial arts, and many more! The important thing is to find enjoyable and sustainable ways to keep your body moving and healthy!
Chances are, any kind of workout, at the very least in warm up and stretching routines, are informed by yogic principles. At its core, yoga is an approach to understanding the body, breath, alignment, and focus; all factors that will greatly improve not only your everyday well-being, but also your experiences with other movement practices.
If so inclined, an experience at Amal Tamara with our in-house yoga and meditation experts will offer you an authentic introduction to one of the world’s most widely-practiced fitness techniques in a safe, tranquil, and personal environment. We look forward to having you!