These five yoga secrets will make it easier for you to get your om on.
By Kristin McGee
Nowadays it seems everywhere you turn there's a yoga studio or someone walking down the street carrying a yoga mat. That's really no surprise, considering the many amazing benefits of yoga. If you've decided it's time to get in on the craze, here are five secrets that will make it easier to get your om on.
The benefits of yoga
1. Wash your mat first.
While most studios and gyms have yoga mats you can use, there's a good chance you'll want to buy your own, especially if you're a little germ-phobic. But you may not know that new mats are often a bit slippery at first. Before you use yours, wash it by hand or in a front-loading washer with a mild detergent, then hang it dry. No time? Bring a towel with you to place on the front of the mat in case your hands start sliding.
2. Tuck in your shirt.
You know you should wear clothes that are loose enough to move around in easily, but here's something you may not have thought of: That roominess can cause a wardrobe malfunction if you're not careful. There are many poses, such as forward bend and downward dog, that can cause your shirt to come over your head if it's not tucked in, so be warned!
3. Head for the middle row.
Resist the temptation to hide out in the back. Why? You won't be able to see the instructor. On the other hand, if you choose the front row, you'll be left with no one to follow once the instructor starts roaming the room to help people with their poses. Pick a spot in the middle.
4. Listen to your body.
You may feel clumsy at first as you get into positions you've never been in before. That's to be expected, and the feeling will go away as you learn the poses. But there's a difference between awkwardness and pain. If something hurts or doesn't feel right, ease up or skip that pose. If your instructor urges you to keep going, find another instructor.
5. Exercise your right to remain silent.
In some types of yoga (including many basic hatha classes) the instructor will chant in Sanskrit before or after class (or both) to help you get mentally prepared for either the class or heading back into your daily life. But remember this: You don't have to join in if you don't want to. It's perfectly acceptable to sit quietly and listen.
Above all, remember that yoga isn't all serious. It is a joy to learn to stretch your body and find both inner and outer strength while going through the poses. Relax and have fun!
Kristin McGee is a certified yoga and Pilates instructor and ACE-certified personal trainer who has taught at Reebok Sports Club/NY, The Sports Club/LA, YogaWorks, Clay and Equinox Fitness, and who leads yoga and Pilates retreats throughout the world.
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