Yoga for beginners
"I'm not flexible enough" is an all-too-common response to the question, "Have you ever tried yoga?" The truth is you don't have to be flexible to do yoga. Yoga will likely improve your flexibility as you practice, but you don't have to start out that way. You don't have to be young, either. You don't have to be tall, short, thin, fat, patient, impatient or any other thing. If you're breathing, you can do yoga.
There are almost as many styles of yoga as there are teachers. Some classes are slow and restful, while others are athletic and vigorous. You can even do a yoga class in a chair! Be willing to try different classes until you find one that is right for you.
The benefits of yoga are countless. It can improve your strength, balance, coordination, range of motion, and, yes, flexibility. It can also lower your stress level and improve your focus and concentration. Lucky for us, even in our small community we have a couple yoga classes to choose from!
Going to your first class can be nerve-wracking, but remember it was like that for everyone their first time -- including the teacher! Tell the teacher you are new and have never done yoga before, and he or she will be able to offer extra instruction as needed, including modifications for some of the more challenging poses.
The important thing to remember is that no one knows your body as well as you do. If one of the poses doesn't feel good to you, you don't need to do it. One of yoga's great lessons is learning to work with your body, really getting to know it and understanding when it's okay to challenge it and when it needs a rest.
Here are a few of the poses you might encounter in your first class. Try them at home!
Child's Pose. This is an incredibly restful, healing pose. Kneel and sit back on your heels, bringing your forehead to the floor. You can put a pillow under your knees, and between your calves and hamstrings or under your head if it makes it more comfortable. Breathe deeply for a couple of minutes, inhaling and exhaling slowly.
Cat. On all fours, keeping your shoulders above your wrists and your hips above your ankles, breathe in as you arch your back. Bring your head and tailbone up, and think about opening your heart forward as you draw your shoulder blades back. As you exhale, round your back: tuck your tailbone, lower your head, and squeeze your belly button toward your spine. Keep alternating back and forth for several breaths, taking your time to allow the rate of your movement match the rate of your breath.
Downward Dog. From Cat, return to a neutral spine. Then curl your toes into the floor and lift your hips toward the sky. You want to have weight in both your hands (which are pressed flat on the floor) and your feet. Your heels might touch the floor, or might not. You are creating an upside-down V with your body, so your head will be between your elbows, legs are straight (or a little bent if that feels more comfortable), and you imagine bringing your heart toward your knees.
Warrior II. From a standing position, take a big step back with your left leg. Your right toe is going to point forward, and your left toe is going to point to the left side. Bend your right knee, keeping your knee directly over your ankle. (If it goes over your toes, take a wider step and try again.) Shoulders stay above the hips, and you have weight in both legs. Hold your arms over your legs at shoulder height and gaze over the middle finger of your right hand. Hold for several breaths, and then repeat on the other side.
Yoga Classes at the Beach
El Litoral – Located in Coronado across from the Coronado Golf & Beach Resort. For class times visit www.playacommunity.com/events
For more information about classes at El Litoral contact Anne Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yoga with Marla – Classes are taught at Finca La Maya weekly, private lessons available.
For more information on Yoga classes with Marla contact Marla at: email@example.com