With yoga touted as a way to improve flexibility, strengthen muscles, improve mood, keep you active for longer and more, it seems like there’s little excuse not to add yoga to your health routine. With an estimated 10,000 (and rapidly growing) yoga teachers in the UK, there’s thought to be around 20,000 to 30,000 lessons each week. So if you’re thinking about getting bendy, what is the best way to get started with yoga?
We’ve got 5 ways to kickstart your yoga habit:
1. Have the right gear
There’s a whole host of beautifully designed yoga gear out there to tempt you. Brands such as Sweaty Betty, Lululemon, Fabletcis and a whole host more, you can easily rack up a yoga wardrobe costing £100 and more. However, having pretty clothes isn’t automatically going to improve your yoga skills. The main clothes for yoga FOR WOMEN are:
A comfy sports bra – there’s no huge amount of jiggling so you don’t need something that straps your boobs down but you will be twisting and posturing upside down so a normal bra may not be as comfy or suitable. You can buy many USA Pro sports bras online from Sports Direct, most of which are under £10.
Leggings – having snug fitting trousers helps your teacher and you see the improvements in your postures. With legs going upside down too, you don’t want any flappy trouser bottoms getting in your way.
A comfy, snug top – this can be a T-shirt or a vest top. You just don’t want it to get in your way and especially when you’re bending down, you don’t want to be having to hoick it up every few seconds.
AND FOR MEN: You really don’t need anything more than shorts. We do however, advise wearing a T-shirt in group sessions as this is considered polite.
2. Get your own mat
If you decide to do yoga by yourself at home, carpets or wooden floors are painful substitutes for a yoga mat. If you go for classes where mats are provided, great! However, you’ll soon realise two things: during such postures as child’s pose, you will be nose down on a mat that hundreds of other people have sweated on. Also, many studio mats are mutli-purpose and so can be slippery which makes it hard to hold certain postures. The more yoga you do, the more you’ll yearn for your own mat. There are lots of great mats out there but the one that’s won us over is the Lululemon (un)mat. It’s the priciest item on our list at £42 but it’s the most versatile. For a start, it’s light (so carrying it isn’t too much of a workout in itself), it can be folded or rolled, it’s incredibly thin so you can either use it on its own or over a studio mat and best of all, it’s got an antimicrobial finish to keep grossness away.
3. Try a range of yoga classes
Should you go for Bikram, Hatha, Vinyasa, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Jivamukti or even Doga? (Yes, that’s yoga with your dog.) Each one is markedly different (and there are new styles being invented every day it seems) so try several to get a feel for each. We speak from experience when we say it has taken us several classes to eventually find classes that resonate with us and having a teacher you like is incredibly important. A lot of places will let you do trial sessions, or you can pay for an introductory session that offers unlimited classes over a certain period of time. These are great ways to discover the best yoga classes for you as cost efficiently as possible. You can also keep an eye out on TimeOut Offers and Groupon.
4. YouTube Yoga
For those who don’t have a suitable yoga studio near them, are pressed for time, work strange hours or are on a budget, then YouTube offers almost every single type of yoga you can imagine (aside from Bikram. For that, you need a heated room). Just search for the type of yoga you’re after. The search functionality also has the added benefit of allowing you to search for the types of benefits you want to receive from your yoga e.g. power yoga, yoga for core strength, yoga for flexibility etc.
5. Schedule it into your weekly routine
It’s all very well buying your mat and trying out various yoga sessions but unless you turn it into a habit you won’t feel the full benefits (our favourite is a feeling of energized calm). Regardless of when you fit your yoga session in (and times vary from 30 minute YouTube classes to 2hr classes that incorporate learning and meditation), make the time in your schedule sacred so it’s untouchable. Remember, health isn’t optional – everyone should make it a priority in their life.