Yoga is known for its ability to care for both body and mind, offering a welcoming and peaceful space where many find supportive and encouraging friends. Beginning a new class with people that you don’t know can feel intimidating and you may be deterred from going. For those who aren’t familiar with the poses or the transitions it can feel overwhelming to start with, but overcoming this hesitation can bring so much enjoyment as well as a multitude of benefits.

            The benefits of yoga are not limited to just stronger and more toned muscles, but also include improved lung capacity, calmer mind, and improved ability to focus. As the mind focuses on the transition from pose to pose it improves the ability to focus on one thing at a time and will release all other thoughts. This calming effect is beneficial for anxiety, stress, and worry.

Attending classes with others who have similar interests and goals will often be the catalyst to form long lasting friendships. A yoga class can be a supportive community, with people who want each other to succeed and feel cared for and welcomed. Classes are available for all ability levels and are judgement free zones where anyone is welcome to take part regardless of gender, ability, religion, or age. Modifications are available for those who are unable to complete some of the more advanced poses and instructors are well prepared to help people to learn safe and comfortable ways to participate in the class.

            Breathing mindfully as you move through your practice is another important part of any Yoga session. In addition to helping increase lung capacity, breath work slows the breathing which also slows the body’s response to stress. This will relieve tension, encourage muscles to relax, and slow any racing thoughts. As these symptoms are relieved, the mind will respond to the lower stress levels of the body, the mood will lift, and anxieties will be lowered.

            The community that forms within a Yoga class is welcoming and peaceful. As with any group activities it may take trying a few classes or studios to find just the right fit, but it will be well worth the effort when you do. Attending a regular class will help you to meet others with shared interests, a similar schedule, or who are also trying to meet the same goals that you are. This forms a solid base for supportive friendships and can help to build a familiar and safe feeling routine. Having a routine and schedule is also effective in managing depression and anxiety.

            When practicing yoga regularly, muscles will become stronger and more toned and ligaments will gently stretch, allowing the body to become more flexible. These changes can often aid in decreasing any pain and discomfort as the body moves more freely and becomes more efficient.  Exercise such as Yoga can also help improve sleep patterns and can ultimately increase the energy levels throughout the day.

Finding the Right Class for You:

            It is easier to go to a class that is the right fit, so consider a few options before signing up for your first class. Many studios will offer a discount for the first week or two, some even the first month, and others will offer the first class free. This is not only to attract new students but also to encourage people to try a few options until they find the right fit for them. With a few different styles of Yoga and different atmospheres, there are also different teaching styles. To find the class that works best for you it may be advisable to try a few out.

            There are several different types of Yoga, one of which is Hatha Yoga. It is based on slow and focused movements between poses and encourages a restful and calming experience that is well suited to beginners and can be helpful for both adults and children. Hot Yoga is a set series that is completed in a very hot room to warm the muscles and increase the amount of sweat produced, this class is more suitable for the slightly more advanced and healthy adults. Restorative Yoga helps to return the body to health and balance and includes a rest period after stretching both muscles and ligaments. For those who are unable to remain standing for a class chair Yoga is a full Yoga series completed from a sitting position to be inclusive of those who cannot get up and down from the floor.Ha

            When selecting a studio consider the sounds or music that is played during a class, or if silence is preferred, and what level of classes or modifications are provided. A beginner may feel more comfortable in a “beginners” class and can work up to more difficult poses within that class. The atmosphere in a Yoga class is important, most prefer to feel calm, focused, and welcome, with an instructor who is supportive and encouraging in a calming and quiet way. For those who want a faster paced practise, a Yoga flow class may be a better fit where the movements are almost constant and are done more quickly than transitions in other classes. Once you have found a studio that feels comfortable select a class to try, but remain open to trying other classes or instructors to meet your goals.

            Wear comfortable clothing, loose enough to move in. Being comfortable will help you to feel better during the class and enjoy it more than restrictive clothing. Some prefer tight Yoga pants for freedom of movement, but this is a personal preference and you will determine which is the most comfortable for you.

            Yoga can be stress relieving, and can help to improve depression and anxiety, as well as helping digestion. It offers an opportunity to socialize with others who have similar interests and provides gentle healthy exercise for your body.

To move past the hesitancy in trying a class, find a studio that feels warm and welcoming, offers classes for your level and preferred style, and that has a class timetable that works with your schedule.

Finding the right class for you will make your yoga experience so much more enjoyable, you’ll be more likely to continue with a life-long hobby, and hopefully make a few friends along the way!

So, what’s stopping you?