Namaskar from Mumbai! Having spent almost five months as an expat here, I’ve found that “because India” is a valid reason for everything I do. It’s kinda like the equivalent of saying “Fxck it” before being peer pressured into all sorts of debauchery you later regret engaging in. Except you can say “because India” for good experiences, too. For example, I got a henna tattoo, because India. I spent an entire day eating street food, because India. I also took yoga classes … because, well, India.¯\_(ツ)_/¯
My roomie and I found our yoga teacher, Minakshi, through UrbanClap. Which is great, because that means she comes to our place to lead private sessions. No need to worry about finding the willpower to head to a studio! Who wants to be seen in a compromised position by more advanced yogis, anyway? Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, I twist and stretch my limbs in hopes of attaining at least one cool asana you see on Instagram. The best part is I do all of this in my pajamas before my morning chai!
I could go on about the physical and mental benefits practicing yoga provides for your body. But this blog post isn’t about that. Besides, you’re only one Google search away from finding out. (If my website analytics are correct, you’re probably a millennial, a so-called “digital native”. Stop being lazy. We’re living in the Age of Information. Anything you ever want to learn is literally right at your fingertips.)
No, this blog post about what your yoga teacher desperately wants you to know as a new student.
Tips for the Yoga Newbie
1. Practice daily
Your yoga sessions might be twice weekly, thrice weekly, or just once a week. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be practicing every single day. Take time out of your day to hit the mat!
2. Come with a positive attitude
Practicing yoga isn’t just about becoming more flexible, it’s about attaining mental clarity as well. While the exercise itself builds strength, focus, and concentration, it’s also a great source of stress relief. The term yoga is translated as unity or oneness, meaning that the entire practice is about harmonizing the body and mind.
3. No mouth breathers allowed
Breathe 👏 through👏 your 👏 nostrils! 👏
4. Inhale, Exhaaaaaaale
When you ~become aware of your breath~, keep in mind that your exhalations should be twice as long as your inhalations.
5. It’s not about repetition
It’s often said that quality trumps quantity. When it comes to yoga, however, duration trumps quantity. You should aim to hold your poses for about 30 seconds to 1 minute in proper form, otherwise the practice isn’t as beneficial. For beginners, you can hold the poses for a shorter duration, but the ultimate goal is to be able to hold the poses.
6. For the ladies: Know your flow
And I’m not talking about your vinayasa flow. You might notice that your menstrual cycle will change once you begin practicing yoga. (TMI: Mine certainly did.) During shark week, you should avoid abdominal poses and shift your focus on poses that open up your pelvic region. If you’re really uncomfortable, you can take a rest day, no biggie. Oh, and don’t do any asanas that require you to position your body upside down.
7. Express yourself
The Om mantra is undoubtedly a huge part of Indian culture. It’s considered the most powerful mantra, chanted during religious ceremonies. Naturally, it has made its way into the practice of yoga as well. It’s said to have therapeutic benefits, so if your Om’s are not in line with the rest of the group, that’s okay!
If you’re interested in learning more about yoga, Minakshi recommends reading “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” and “Hatha Yoga Pradipika”!
Are you a yogi? What are your best tips for practicing yoga? Leave them in the comments below!