Yoga: Finding Your Beginning

by Tricia Murray

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A recent report by Harvard Medical School reported an 80% rise in yoga participation in 2016 versus 2015. Despite its growing popularity, there are those who hesitate to participate because of the many images portraying yoga as something only for the young, the slim, the incredibly flexible or the “hippie”.

For those who are willing, it can be tough to know where to start. If you’ve been nursing a desire to try it, and are truly new to yoga, working privately with an instructor can give you the base of knowledge and confidence to step into a group session. Otherwise, here are a few suggestions to find the right yoga experience for you:

  • Think of a goal you’d like to accomplish;
  • Consider what you know of yoga and how it complements that goal;
  • Explore your options—classes, workshops or private sessions;
  • To start with, look for those with a balanced approach to poses, breathing techniques and meditation;
  • Try different styles to see what fits you and your goals;
  • Don’t be afraid to keep looking for the experience that best fits you;
  • And remember, “yoga is not for the flexible, it’s for the willing” (Author Unknown).

Yoga’s health benefits are many. Studies undertaken since the 1960s have found that yoga benefits both men and women. The poses and breathing techniques have contributed to lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, fostering bone formation and reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes and night sweats by as much as 60% in peri- and menopausal women. The meditative components are used to help manage stress and anxiety, and have also been employed to positively impact emotional eating triggers while developing healthier perspectives on body image.