how to: start a yoga practice

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I had to laugh a few weeks back when a friend joked on fb about coming face-to-face with the long, lean, perfectly coiffed yoga girls after walking out of a very sweaty boxing class. Don’t we all secretly want to look that good when we’re working out?

I’ve been going to a yoga class for about a year now, and recently we moved locations. Now we practice in my living room! It’s a mix of power yoga and African dance, and more often than not, our hair is a mess, we’re practically groaning aloud in class (our poor teacher!) and we sweat. Oh yes we do. Sometimes I need to open every single window to clear the air!

But I digress. Yoga can be a little intimidating to the uninitiated – all those bendy bodies, all the lycra! But it’s such a neat way to move your body and relax your mind, and really, it’s so accessible. No need for heavy weights or machines, you can often even get away without a mat.

Here’s a few quick tips to get your started:

1. Sign up for a trial-period class. A lot of studios offer unlimited classes for a week, or ten days, for a very discounted price. Go along a few times to get a feel for the poses – which you can then practice for free at home. If you love it, continue on, but if time/price/location is an issue…

2. Jump online. There are so many online resources for yoga – from charts and images to video classes. I love a series called ‘Yoga for Life’ which plays on our cable TV here, but I’ve just discovered you can access the classes online. I also have a Happy Body pinterest board with various sequences that are especially great for a quick 15-20 minute stretch out.

3. Make room in your schedule. Something’s gotta give, but it shouldn’t be important things (sleep, work time, social time etc). Figure out where your spare time lies (a lazy TV habit? too much facebook?) and move things around to make room for your practice.

4. Make it more about your mental health. Maybe it’s just me, but I find goals like getting fitter or leaner horribly un-motivating. But I started yoga because I’m very aware of the benefits of physical activity on my state of mind. With the stress of living abroad, unemployment, cultural issues and the general ups and downs of life, I want to get on my mat to make myself feel good. (And after every session, I always do!) I really think that’s the key reason I’ve stuck with yoga for over a year now.

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Rum is also a yoga convert (:

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