Look around town today at your local fitness centers and the yoga flurry is obvious. Aerobics is quickly being replaced with power yoga classes and muscle gyms have transformed into peaceful yoga studios where pictures of a pre-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are replaced with photos of the Indian sages and statues of Buddha.
So if you’re new to downward-dogging, here are three things you should know before you roll out your yoga mat.
1) Look for a qualified instructor. One of the downsides of the yoga craze is the inevitable churning out of poorly-qualified yoga instructors. One way to avoid this potential hazard is to look for a teacher who has the initial RYT (registered yoga teacher) behind their name. This certification is proof that the teacher has a solid foundation in anatomy, body alignment and teacher training.
2) Pace yourself. Even if you’re a conditioned athlete, yoga introduces you to a whole new way of moving your body. Avoid scoping out the other students who may be able to wrap their legs around their head. Keep your focus to yourself and remember to keep breathing!
3) Speak up. If you are just recovering from an injury or if you have a chronic condition like back pain or asthma, let your teacher know before starting class. He or she will then be able to guide you along a practice that is safe and effective for your body.
Heather is a dedicated practitioner and instructor of Ashtanga yoga. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health and a Bachelor’s in Psychology. You can see her Yoga column here at DietsInReview.com every Sunday.