Try Yoga: Finding Your Practice

By Josie Bryan

The time of year has rolled around when you might be thinking about trying a new way to stay active as the start of fall nears. Whether you have participated in various yoga classes over the years or have only dappled, consistent yoga practice is beneficial for your overall well-being. 

It is never too late to start your yogi journey, and there are ample benefits to support why yoga is an ideal activity, no matter your age or ability. 

Here are some benefits:

Increased balance, flexibility, and strength: Yoga provides an opportunity to stretch, strengthen, and uplift our bodies. Poses like Tree can be a simple yet effective way to build better balance and strength. It’s important to start with slow, easy movements and focus on breathing deeply into each pose. A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggest that yoga can decrease the risk of falling in aging individuals and help them recover more quickly from injuries.

Mood and energy boost: Yoga has been found to increase mood and overall energy. In an article by UC Santa Cruz on the benefits of yoga on mood and well-being, they state, “Yoga postures strengthen, purify, and balance the endocrine, nervous, and circulatory systems.” Another aspect of attending class is the sense of community it provides, offering a positive environment for you to explore your body and mind.  

Decreased stress, improved mindfulness: Yoga purposely forces you to focus on the present moment through specific poses and connected breath, likely leading into a state of relaxation. This can help reduce stress and improve overall mindfulness. The Arbor Company, a luxury senior living community, found that being in this state of relaxation can “increase feelings of peace, calm, and even happiness by the end of a class.” According to Harvard Health Publishing, this newfound mindfulness can also translate into other areas of your life, such as mindful eating. 

Deeper connection with self: Through consistent yoga practice, you will develop a greater self-awareness about your body and mind. Yoga helps you look inward and become more confident from the inside out. It is an incredibly healing activity and can help remove negative energy or thoughts you might have about yourself or your environment. 

How to get started on your yoga journey:

Figure out what yoga you want to try: There are many different types of yoga. If you are just starting or getting back into a routine, I suggest signing up for a hatha or yin class. Both offer a more relaxed form of movement and focus on mindfulness that is easier on your body and calming to your mind. Mind Body Green breaks down additional forms of yoga here. Finding what type you jive with is the first step in developing your yoga practice.

Find a class and instructor you like: Once you decide on your preferred yoga type, finding a class and instructor you like will motivate you to keep up a routine. I suggest asking friends who live in your area if they have any studios they like to go to or looking up a nearby studio and giving it a try. Many yoga studios offer reduced trial periods, so you can try different classes or instructors to see what’s best for you. Finding a studio close to home makes it easy to commit to going a few times a week. 

Focus on consistency, not perfection: Yoga is more than just learning postures and trying to do them perfectly. It’s about building a consistent practice that gives you the space and time to move your body and focus your mind on the present through mindfulness. The more consistent you can be, the more you will find yourself in a flow state and reap the benefits in your everyday life. The New York Times suggests you “aim for a consistent practice a few times each week.” 

Take what you learn in class off the mat: Unlike other types of exercise, a primary philosophy of yoga is that what you do on the mat translates to what you do off the mat. As you engage with different classes, you will learn various poses, breath patterns, and mantras that you can assimilate into your life. This might look like taking a moment to pause and breathe when you notice yourself becoming stressed. It might also look like laying on the floor and putting your legs up against the wall for five minutes to allow yourself to let go and improve your circulation. 

No matter what kind of yoga you decide to try, there is no denying the benefits it provides for your mind, body, and soul. The beauty of yoga is that you can take it at your own pace. Your practice on and off the mat is entirely for you. As Tiffany Cruikshank said, “The beautiful thing about yoga is that there are so many different approaches. As we go through our life cycles, hopefully, we can find a practice that suits us.” I hope this serves as a reminder that yoga is a lifelong practice anyone can begin anytime.

Josie Bryan is a multidisciplinary freelance writer and creator whose work is focused on life writing, poetry, copy editing, content creation, and curated travel. She published her first book of poetry, Strawberry Daydreams, last year. Currently based in Seattle, WA. 

Throughout the “Active You” section of this blog, we will introduce you to ideas on staying active and learning new things. 

1 Comment

  1. Sam Sullivan says:

    Thanks Josie I use to go to yoga and loved it. This year I’ve been stressed and care giving for my dad with cancer and my husband with hip surgery. I haven’t been traveling, hiking, camping, kayaking… nothing, I need a stress reliever and this might be perfect,

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