How to start doing Yoga

Mind & Body

05/24/2010 5:32 PM

05/24/2010 5:36 PM

Studies have shown yoga has many health benefits, including increased flexibility and strength and reduced stress. But starting a program can be intimidating. Here are tips from yoga instructors:

• Check with your doctor. Yoga postures might not be good for people with certain chronic health conditions or injuries.
• Look up some basic moves before a class. You can find instructions online or in books and videos for beginners. Some common postures are Downward Facing Dog, Forward Bend, The Bridge, Warrior II and The Cobra. Start with the ones you think you could do.
• Work on your flexibility. Do some light stretching at home in the morning and before you go to bed.
• Tell the class instructor you're a beginner. Never be afraid to ask for help.
• Watch others in a class. You can learn a lot about postures — and how to adapt them based on individual fitness levels — from more experienced students.
• Don't give up too quickly. There are many styles of yoga, not to mention different studios and instructors you may prefer. Hint: many beginners like the Hatha or Vinyasa style.
• Dress correctly. Wear a comfortable but somewhat form-fitting shirt, so it won't flop over your head as you bend over. No special shoes are required — yoga is usually done barefoot.
• Don't eat right before class. Have a light meal or snack a few hours beforehand, and drink a glass of water before you begin.

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