Beginning a Yoga Practice

Your hamstrings and low back are tight, and stress is stuck in your shoulders.

Yoga could do you a world of good. Yoga appeals to men and women of all ages and abilities. It’s a lifelong practice that can continually change and grow with your body and lifestyle. You just need to start!

This ancient Indian practice seeks to create a union of mind, body and spirit. In this country, Hatha yoga is most commonly practiced, focusing on asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing).

Yoga provides so many benefits for your body, including:

  • Improves flexibility and range of motion
  • Strengthens muscles as you hold standing poses or use your arms to support your body
  • Works core muscles as you move from pose to pose
  • Improves posture and you’ll start standing taller
  • Eases muscle pain as you balance your right and left sides

Yoga also provides a connection between your mind and your body. The breathing exercises, pranayama, allow you to better deal with stress, and are tools you can use outside of class. According to Lisa Faremouth Weber, owner of Heaven Meets Earth in Evanston, “If you are continually stressed, you leave the door open to a variety of chronic health conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The ancient yoga masters taught that moving and breathing with awareness quiets the mind.”

Faremouth recommends starting with an introduction to yoga class or series of classes. You will learn the poses with correct alignment and move at the right pace. While there are many at-home options for yoga, a class allows you to benefit from group energy, eliminate distractions and enjoy a relaxing environment.

Ilse Sidles remembers feeling intimidated when she took her first yoga class. She describes herself as a tightly wound, on-the-go runner and mom, and says yoga completely changed her life. She is now co-owner of Sanctuary Yoga in Highland Park. Sidles is not only more flexible from yoga, but also has learned to slow down and have more patience with her kids.  Overall, she feels she is a better person.

Winter is a great time to begin yoga. Studios are warm and your movement creates even more heat. Bring a mat, water and wear comfortable clothing. You will find a peaceful rhythm as you move through the sun salutations, ease stress with deep breathing, and enjoy complete relaxation as you settle into savasana.

Namaste.