Yoga for beginners -- what you need to know

By Lisa McDonald, Assignment Editor, lmcdonald@wkmg.com
Published On: Feb 16 2012 09:59:29 AM EST
Updated On: Feb 16 2012 10:05:17 AM EST
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CASSELBERRY, Fla. -

It is never too late to start a yoga regimen, especially in this day and age.
Yoga is an ancient technique that means 'to yoke' in Sanskrit.  When one yokes the body, they bind poses and connect with the mind.  It is a beautiful way to start or end the day, moving the body, building strength, breathing with the full length of lungs, doing poses you never thought you could and finding complete relaxation.  You'll walk out of your class feeling like a new person, right?
Take into consideration the class you are attending.
If you've never done yoga before and you attend an advanced power yoga or vinyasa flow class, you may feel more exhausted then when you walked in, or worse - you could do more harm then good.
You have to work from the ground up when it comes to your yoga practice and men and women that can hold poses with arms bound and legs above their heads, have likely been practicing yoga for a long time.  Either that, or they are performers for Cirque.
When it comes to starting your yoga practice, you have to first realize your humility and set your ego aside.  There is nothing wrong with going to a beginners Hatha class.  Everyone feels the same way you do - scared they will not be able to hold poses, lose balance or be humiliated in front of their fellow practitioners.
In fact, with a good yoga teacher, in a quiet yoga setting, you will find yourself forgetting about that ego and not worrying about what you can, or cannot do.  The most important thing about yoga is breathing, otherwise, you're just going to class for a good stretch.  
Every yoga practice starts with breathing techniques.  In yoga, these breathing techniques are called 'pranayama.'  Oxygenating the blood and organs is a vital part of regenerating and bringing back health.  It helps to bring flexibility to the joints and helps to build strong muscles.
Westernized yoga has exploded in the United States over the past ten years, and studios can be found in every major city and suburbs around the country.  Finding the right fit for your needs can be tricky, but with a bit of research, you can find exactly what you want and need for your body.  Websites, reviews, and just calling a studio to talk to an instructor or owner will give you all the tools you need to start your practice.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of yoga include stress reduction, increased fitness, ability to manage chronic health conditions, and weight loss.
You will never hear a yoga teacher tell you that you cannot do yoga (unless you have just had surgery or are still getting used to that iron lung).  The reason you will never hear that is not because the teacher wants more and more students, but because it is true.  You can start your practice at any age, and with an open heart and mind, you will find yourself binding your arms and pulling your legs over your head in no time!

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