To launch a new yoga column here on Cincy Chic, our experts start off with a few basics – how it helps and who it benefits (hint: it’s everyone).
“I can’t even touch my toes!”
“I’m a dude.”
“I’m not flexible.”
“I’m too old.”
“I’m too young”
“I have a bad back.”
Yoga teachers have heard every excuse in the book! But now is the time to commit, to shed the excuses. Simply put, here’s who CAN do yoga… EVERYONE.
If you can breathe on your own, you can practice some form of yoga. If you can get up and down from the ground on your own, you can do yoga in a traditional yoga studio. All that a yoga practice requires is patience and commitment. Which, of course, is what makes it challenging.
Where should someone who “can’t do yoga” begin? Many studios offer classes tailored directly to the beginner student. At The Yoga Bar we offer a regular four-week series that introduces the beginning student to the basics of a yoga practice. Master teacher Donna Covrett leads students through the basics of yoga, breath, meditation, and foundational postures. The uninitiated student leaves this series with basic knowledge and confidence, ready for a gentle class at any studio. The next Beginner Series at The Yoga Bar begins March 5.
If you’ve suffered a serious injury or chronic illness, you might consider beginning your practice with one of Cincinnati’s more experienced teachers in a private lesson. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, seek out Shine Yoga in Hyde Park. Nancy Willman of Main Street Yoga teaches a regular class for students with scoliosis. There are even classes throughout the city tailored to those in recovery.
When should you start a yoga practice? Now. Honestly, the hardest thing about yoga is getting onto your mat. Once you arrive at the studio, the rest is easy by comparison.
When you do join a group class at the studio, know this: no one is watching you. Well, besides the teacher, who is watching everyone in order to help and assist. Each and every student in the room is dealing with their own challenges on their own mat.
Some poses will come to you easily. Some poses will be more challenging. This doesn’t mean that you are either “good” or “bad” at yoga. It means that you, like everyone else, have things you’re good at, and things you need to work on.
What should you wear? You’ll want to start with whatever you would wear to the gym, or maybe even to bed. Have you ever noticed how yoga clothes kind of look like pajamas?
Here are a few pro tips: in yoga, you hang upside down a lot, so loose fitting t-shirts can lead to wardrobe malfunctions. Target leggings are not as opaque as you might think (trust us here), and bare feet are the norm.
What shouldn’t you wear? Strong perfumes, cologne or anything so smelly it will distract others — you breathe deeply a lot in yoga. Your connected devices – give yourself the gift of an hour free from technology. Also, dangling jewelry or big rings might hurt you in inversions or pinch your fingers, so leave those with your phone.
What do I need for practice? Most yoga studios offer mats for rent, and many even loan them for free. Most also provide filtered water, but a water bottle might be a good thing to bring. If you are prone to sweating, bring a towel to wipe your hands dry.
What if I don’t like it? Shop around! Invest some time in finding the right teacher and studio, or mix of teachers and studios, for you. If you had one bad bowl of pasta you probably wouldn’t say you hate Italian food. So why give up all of yoga just because one class you took didn’t resonate? Keep in mind that yoga teachers are human. They also have off days. Yoga studios are for the most part small, local and independently owned affairs with skeleton crews and volunteer staffs, so be patient with them and help out if possible.
Often times a teacher you cross early on, the one who makes you bristle, will end up being YOUR teacher once you’ve settled into a regular practice. Simply put, the teacher who annoys you at first is probably the one who has the most to truly teach you.
How much do I have to commit to this? Once a week is fine, at first. This dabbling in yoga is like getting a spa massage— it feels good, it’s nice to do for yourself, but it’s probably not going to change your life.
If you really want to change your body, mind and spirit, then you’ll want to commit to three times a week or more. Early on, this should be at a studio with an experienced teacher. As you progress, you can start an at home practice and alternate between the studio and home. However, many prefer the motivation of a teacher and the commitment to a studio, so most studios will offer a monthly-unlimited pass for those students who want to practice regularly.
We know that first time you walk into a yoga studio carries a serious intimidation factor. But let this month be the month that you give yoga a try. We’re really excited to meet you. We want you to share this practice with us. We guarantee that you’re better at this than you think. And your yoga practice just might be the best gift you’ve ever given yourself.