Namaste! The new year beckons – and with it, the opportunity to add some mindfulness to the months ahead. Yoga builds your core, develops your flexibility and helps you find your strength and focus, making it the perfect addition to a well-rounded workout, or as a base for your overall fitness and wellbeing.
From ashtanga to yin yoga, the choice of classes and teaching can seem overwhelming at first. However, it’s not as difficult as you think to get started. All you need is an open mind and a few key pieces of kit, and you’ll soon find your flow.
Here’s what you’ll need to ease yourself into your first few poses:
There’s no getting around it: without a mat, you won’t get very far with your practice. However, the kind of mat you choose is important.
Certain kinds of fast-flowing yoga require a mat which is hard-wearing and resilient enough to withstand movement and quick successions of poses. For slower, gentler forms of yoga, you’ll find that a thicker or more padded mat will give your joints the support they need to hold certain poses for longer.
All kinds of yoga and their distinctive branches build on the same elements, but the teaching of each tends to differ. For a beginner who’s trying out different types of yoga for the first time, it is possible to start with something that’s an-all-rounder: flexible enough to take tough poses, but thick enough to provide a little support when you need it.
Of course, hopping from work to the studio is much easier when you’ve a handy storage bag to keep your essentials tucked away. Investing in a decent yoga storage bag will ensure you’ve got enough space to stow away your mat, plus a couple of pockets for the accessories and odds and ends that will make your class and practice that bit easier.
Be prepared: yoga can be a sweaty business. You’ll find that as your yoga practice heats up, it’ll become tougher to keep a grip on things. Spreading a specialised yoga towel over your mat will help you cope with the annoyance of sweaty palms slipping while you try to stay in a pose, giving you a better, more comfortable base to focus on what’s important in your practice.
No matter if you’re a beginner or yogi of years’ experience, everyone needs a block in their practice. Whether as a perch to sit on, or as an aid to making certain poses less strenuous, a lightweight foam block is an easy way to get extra support and a few extra inches of reach.
Individual bodies are all built differently. Don’t pressure yourself to reach where your body doesn’t want you to go – use a strap instead. When looped over a foot or used to extend the reach your arms, you’ll be able to sink more comfortably into poses you previously thought undoable.
Yoga can be hard work, and after a few classes of discovering new backbends, balance poses and sequences, you’ll find that the secret to making the most from your practice is mindfulness, yes – but also working up a decent sweat. Keeping an easy-sip water bottle close at hand during a challenging class is always helpful. For an extra-refreshing boost, use a water bottle with an integrated fruit infuser.