Over the past few months yoga studios have been reopening, gyms have been reopening and the fitness world is beginning to rebuild after an extended (and potentially much needed) break!
As you return to the studio, you might notice you move a little differently. Maybe you’ve lost some strength, maybe you’re a bit stiffer and maybe your mind isn’t as calm and focussed as it was.
So today I’m going to walk you through some tips and tricks for old yogis returning to the studio and for new yogis entering the blissful world of yoga for the first time.
We go back to the studio expecting that everything will fall back into place, but sadly, yoga is not like riding a bike. It takes practice and discipline. If you’ve had some time off, you might not be able to do everything you could a year ago. But guess what? It’s okay!!
The first thing we need to do is to alter our expectations. Accept, gracefully, that your strength and mobility will be different. This is a wonderful time for exploration and to develop a deeper understanding of your own body. Listen to what it’s trying to tell you and start slow.
Start slow by taking simpler variations of poses and doing what feels good. Don’t let the ego take over and push you into shapes that used to be “easy”. You can also take it slow by starting with a small number of classes per week. There’s no need to jump back into 5-7 days of yoga a week. Find a manageable, achievable, number of classes and be consistent!
Another great thing to remember is that if you’ve experienced any changes in your body over your break such as injuries or pregnancy, remember to let your teacher know.
If you are just beginning yoga, then welcome to the yoga world! What an exciting journey you’re about to embark on.
Firstly, let your teacher know if you have any conditions or injuries. This will help them provide you with alternatives that are appropriate for your body.
If you’re seeing an osteopath, physiotherapist, chiropractor or another health care practitioner, let them know you are starting yoga too. They’ll be able to guide you to studios or teachers that will be appropriate for you and may give you advice around poses to avoid.
Don’t feel like you have to do it all! It can be really daunting entering a yoga studio for the first time. As difficult as it is, try not to compare yourself to anyone else. We’re all in our own lane, running our own race. It takes time to build up coordination and body awareness. Allow yourself that time.
Understandably though, a studio full of fit people in tight clothes doing all sorts of tricks is scary. But that’s not what yoga is about. While it would be nice to achieve the “hard” poses, an advanced yogi is one that tunes into their body and does what feels right.
A great tool you can use to connect to your body is the breath. The breath gives you so much information. When your body is stressed in a high energy flow you may feel your breath speed up. If you’re in a pose that’s potentially too difficult then you might catch yourself holding your breath. If that’s the case, pull back and focus on your inhalations and exhalations. As a yoga teacher myself, I would much rather someone spends all class sitting and breathing than throwing their body into shapes without any awareness. It may be worth noting whether breath retention is a pattern for you. In everyday life do you find that you hold your breath when things get hard or stressful? This awareness is the true practice of yoga. Notice it and then adapt.
Let us know how we can help you transition from the hustle and bustle of the real world back into the yoga studio. Come to a class, practice online with us or ask us any questions through our social media platforms.
Dr Lee Hoogeveen (Osteopath)
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