A huge thank you to Michelle for her guest blog. Great beginners guide with tips to get you started!

Michelle at Divine Yoga has classes in the Southside and West end of Glasgow. Find out more here.

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All you need to know to get started in yoga, including the health benefits, yoga styles for beginners and finding a yoga class.

Taking the first steps into a yoga class can be a daunting experience. I remember this only too well. But once I got there, I received a warm welcome and became part of a group that was nurturing and supportive.

There are a lot of misconceptions about yoga. The main one I come across is that you need to be flexible to begin. This is like saying you are too dirty to have a bath.

I once had a lovely young woman come into my class and say ”I want to look like the pictures on instagram”.  The media is full of super thin, glamorous models, striking advanced poses in exotic locations. While it is fantastic to have access to these images to admire and draw inspiration from, there is pressure to look a certain way and have a particular body image. This is not yoga. Yoga is about freeing ourselves from ego, judgement and connecting with our true nature. It’s about accepting who we are, where we are at feeling okay with it. This can be taken off the mat and be transferred into our personal lives.

What is most important is that you are able to move and breathe in a way that feels good for you.  This can be in the simplest forms of movement and breathing.

Michelle2I’ve compiled a list of FAQ’s from complete beginner 

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient form of spiritual practices, that originated in India. The oldest record of yoga dates back to around 3000BC in the Indus Valley, a civilisation that covered around 1,25 million kilometres of land and is now part of Afghanistan, Pakistan and North West India.

Yoga means to yoke or unite. When the body is cluttered with stress and tension, disease occurs, clouding the minds ability to connect with the inner self. The main component of yoga is breathing and asana (physical poses to help with strength, flexibility and endurance)

Yoga is becoming more main stream and is now commonplace in leisure centres, schools, drug rehabilitation services and other community settings.

What do I wear to Yoga?

Wear clothes that are stretchy, loose and comfortable for exercise. They don’t have to be fancy or expensive. As long as you are able to move and breathe in a way that feels good for you.

What are the health benefits of Yoga?

Yoga helps to improve energy levels and circulation flow in the body. It stretches connective tissue and expands muscles and joints. Yoga hydrates collagen, keeping it pliable which helps to slow the aging process down. Because yoga encourages a wide range of movement, it helps to compliment and aid the recovery from sports.

Yoga strengthens the bone mass, therefore making it good for conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis. The practice of yoga helps to detoxify the body, cleansing organs and other systems.

Deep breathing in yoga promotes relaxation. It calms the nervous system and helps to alleviate stress, depression and anxiety.

Am I too old For Yoga?

You are never too young or old to start yoga. There are so many different styles around which can be adapted to suit the needs of everyone. Yoga can also be practiced sitting on a chair. A wide range of props can also be used to support you to move in and out of the poses safely.

Do I have to be fit to practice yoga?

Yoga is suitable for all ages and abilities. You just need to adjust your yoga

practice to suit your level or ability. An instructor can help you with this. Western Culture has easily turned yoga into another superficial workout, where many people are moving into a state of obsession with the body and it’s achievements.

“Calming the mind is Yoga, not just standing on the head” – Swami Satchinanda 

Do I need to be flexible to practice yoga? 

As mentioned earlier in my blog, this is the most common misconception about yoga.. You don’t need to be flexible or touch your toes to start. Many seasoned yogis still need to bend their knees to touch their toes. Participating in a class is about what you can do and taking a break when you need to.

Many seasoned yogis, myself included, need to take a bend in their knees to touch their toes. Bring yourself to the practice and it will come to you. That is, just show up.

Can I injure myself in yoga?

The most common injury in yoga is repetitive strain injury. Yoga is safe if you are taught correctly by a qualified instructor. It is also beneficial to choose a class that is suitable to your level. Be responsible for your own practice by listening to your practice and responding to what your body needs. It is important not to force your practice.

What style of yoga should I do?

There are many different types of yoga to choose from such as Vinyasa Flow, Iyengar and Yin Yoga. Some styles are more vigorous than others. Some may have a different emphasis, such as holding the poses for longer and breathing. Many yoga instructors develop their own style by studying more than one style. No style is necessarily better or authentic than another. The key is to choose a class and instructor that is suited to your needs.