This is a guest post by Heather Ashare. Heather has been a dedicated practitioner and instructor of Ashtanga yoga for the past six years and is a staff member of the website, Diets in Review. You can read more of her work on their Diet Blog.
Look around these days and everyone seems to be toting around a yoga mat. Yes, we can thank the Indian sages for the brilliant boom in yoga fanatics here in the West but we can also thank celebrities like Sting, Madonna, Christy Turlington and Gwyneth Paltrow who have helped take the hippie-crunchiness out of yoga and replaced it with more than just acceptability: It’s THE thing to do.
In addition to participating in one of the largest health crazes in the past ten years, did you know that yoga has caught the attention of the medical community? From treating chronic low back pain, asthma, depression, multiple sclerosis and joint pain, yoga is maybe one of the great panaceas we Westerners have “discovered” since antibiotics. Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but doctors are writing out Rx slips for yoga and researchers are busy studying how performing these age-old postures is helping to prevent or reduce a multitude of conditions and their symptoms.
So if you’re new to downward-dogging here are five things you should know before you roll out your yoga mat:
- Look for a qualified instructor. Any teacher with the initials R.Y.T. (Registered Yoga Trainer) behind their name is a good bet that they have clocked some serious yoga training hours learning the basics of this ancient practice.
- Start out slow. Even if you’re in a great shape, yoga is a different kind of work-out that you are probably not used to. Don’t try and stand on your head the first day in class.
- Refrain from eating 2-3 hours before you take a class. Even though you may nosh on a piece of fruit or granola bar before you hit the gym, a pre-yoga snack will backfire on you. Save it for after class.
- Be proactive and let your teacher know about your aches, pains and injuries.
Back pain, knee pain, sciatica, all of these conditions and countless others should be brought to the attention of your instructor before class, even if he or she doesn’t ask.
- Go with an open mind. Your first time taking a yoga class may introduce you to postures, movements, and feelings that you have never before experienced. Just remember to keep breathing.