Yoga enthusiasts come to the mat seeking a variety of rewards: to gain strength, increase flexibility, manage stress, or adopt a more peaceful way of life. Whatever your reasons for turning to Yoga, you want keep a few considerations in mind to get off to a good start.

  • Set clear goals for yourself. Decide exactly what you want to accomplish (flexibility, fitness, better health, inner peace, and so on).

  • Make a realistic commitment. Promising yourself you'll practice for an hour every day sounds great, but it doesn't do you any good if you can't reasonably maintain that schedule. Just 15 minutes a day is a great start.

  • Get your physician's approval. If you have a health challenge or are pregnant, be sure to consult a physician before embarking on a Yoga practice program. Familiarize your physician with the specific kind of Yoga you intend to practice. He may caution you away from certain forms of practice and steer you toward others. If your physician is unfamiliar with Yoga, consider showing him a copy of this book.

  • Enjoy gentle Yoga. You don't need to compete with yourself or anyone else. Allow Yoga to gently unfold the potential of your body and your mind. Don't overdo the physical part of the practice. Keep the enjoyment factor high.

  • Keep a practice journal. Chronicle your experience with Yoga, and periodically read through your journal to see the progress you've made. Progress is the best motivator.

  • Create a support system for yourself. Most people find immediate rewards when they get on the Yoga mat and start moving and breathing, but getting themselves to the mat or the class can be challenging. Allow yourself to feel motivated and inspired by fellow practitioners. If you prefer to practice on your own at home, you may still want to consider participating in a Yoga class occasionally, if only to get feedback or find encouragement.

  • Vary your program periodically. Even the best program can get boring. Prevent your enthusiasm from flagging by changing your routine occasionally. Trying out different teachers is a great way to learn new postures and sequences.

  • Educate yourself. Continue to learn about Yoga, to make your Yoga practice more meaningful. Books, magazines, and websites on Yoga abound. With the Internet, getting access to the great Yoga teachers and thinkers is even easier. Take the time to read and study, and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the depth you can discover in Yoga.

  • Have a role model to inspire you. Everyone needs ideals. You don't need to worship a hero, but having someone to look up to who, in your eyes, has succeeded and whom you find inspiring is always a good idea.

  • Be a Yoga enthusiast, but not a bore. By all means, be enthusiastic about your Yoga practice, but know that not everyone shares your enthusiasm, including the dearest members of your family. Yoga's positive effect on your body and mind is the best advertising; let those effects speak for themselves instead of annoying your family and friends with constant talk of Yoga.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Larry Payne, PhD, is the founding president of the International Association of Yoga Therapists and was named one of America’s most respected yoga teachers by the Los Angeles Times. Georg Feuerstein, PhD, was internationally respected for his contribution to Yoga research and the history of consciousness.

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