New to Yoga? 5 Things You Should Know

By Heather Ashare -

In recent years yoga has grown with increasing popularity in the U.S. An ancient form of fitness that connects the mind, body and spirit, for Americans it's an ideal way to create calm amidst an ever turning storm of work-life balance. People not only reap relaxation and fitness benefits from a yoga routine, but the medical community has credited the activity with treating conditions such as lower back pain, depression, asthma, multiple sclerosis and joint pain.

Whether you're hitting the yoga mat to find your center, strengthen your core, or find relief from a chronic illness, performing yoga in a safe environment is key to your success. If you're new to downward-dogging, here are five things yoga beginners should know before buying a yoga mat:

1. Find a qualified instructor. Your teacher should have the initials R.Y.T. (Registered Yoga Trainer) behind their name. This is a sign that they've spent extensive time training for and learning this ancient art.

2. Start slowly. Even for those in great physical shape, you'll find yoga is a different kind of workout that you may not be used to. Don't try head stands on your first day. Learn and watch carefully, and let your body naturally progress through the motions.

3. Refrain from eating before class. It might be common place to have a small snack before going to the gym, as a pre-yoga snack will backfire on you. Refrain from eating two to three hours before yoga class. Then afterward, feel free to enjoy a piece of fruit or granola. (Try these post-yoga snacks.)

4. Be honest about injuries. Be proactive and notify your teacher of any aches, pains or injuries. Any pain should be brought to the attention of your yoga instructor before class begins, even if you aren't asked.

5. Have an open mind. Your first time in a yoga class may introduce you to postures, movements, and feelings that you have never before experienced. Stay focused, keep breathing, and welcome the positive changes taking place.

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