Yoga: A User’s Manual

We’ve been on a yoga kick lately! We’ve already covered the basics, and why you should try it.

Today we’re going to cover everything you need to start a yoga practice – even if you’ve never done it before.

What You Need

Most yoga studios and gyms (including ours) already have all the props you need. We recommend using their stuff until you figure out which things you want for yourself. You don’t need shoes, super supportive sports bras, or fancy workout gear. All you need is listed below.

A mat. Yoga mats come in different thicknesses and textures. A basic, $20 mat from Target will serve you pretty well for most yoga classes. Some mats have a stickier texture, that allows for a stronger grip. This is what the hot yogis use.

A block or blocks. Yoga blocks help you get into poses comfortably. If you can’t touch your toes, place your hands on a yoga block in front of you. This way you still get the benefit of the pose without hurting yourself. I like to have two blocks on hand, but most of the time you can get by with one.

A strap. A yoga strap is like a giant belt. It can be clasped into a loop or used as one long strap. Again, it’s an alignment tool. It helps you get into positions you otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

Comfortable, stretchy clothes. There’s a reason people like to wear yoga pants everywhere. They cling to your body, but are stretchy enough to accommodate all the movements required in a yoga class – without falling off. I personally prefer pants to shorts, and tanks to t-shirts. You might need to experiment a little with different attire.

Patience and an open mind. The first time you do yoga, it feels ridiculous and/or impossible. It’s so important to leave judgement at the door – especially your judgement of yourself. Just listen and do your best, and keep coming back. The real benefits of yoga take a few months to manifest.

Glossary of Yoga Terms

This is just a small collection of the most common yoga terms you may encounter in a class or on a schedule. The idea is to alleviate that I-have-no-idea-what’s-going-on feeling.

Hatha yoga is the basic, breathing, flowing, original yoga.

Vinyasa refers to the flow. You synchronize movements with your inhales and exhales in a continuous, flowing sequence.

Mudra: A hand position, like the tips of your index fingers & thumbs touching, or the hands in prayer position.

Anjali mudra: Hands in prayer position.

Prana: Energy, life force, chi.

Pranayama is breathing work. There are hundreds of different breathing exercises. You’ll undoubtedly practice a few in yoga class.

Ujjayi (OOO-jai-ee) breath is a deep, slow breath through the nose. You open the throat during both inhale and exhale, creating a whispery, ocean-like sound with each breath.

Namaste. Surely you’ve heard this before. It most closely translates to: The light within me bows to the light within you. Usually said at the end of class with hands in prayer position.

Don’t forget about our Therapeutic Yoga Info Session, this Thursday at 6pm!

Written by Sam

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