Introduction to Yoga - Top 5 Vital Tips for Beginners

Yoga can be a relaxing, fun way to stay limber and in shape. Yoga benefits include helping with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and many other issues within the body.  Physical therapists often use yoga techniques into a physical therapy program. However, many people in the beginning stages are prone to injuries due to tight musculature, bad form, etc. If you are thinking about beginning a new yoga regimen, follow these 5 tips to get the most out of your workout without getting injured. Before you get started, read our article on 5 reasons you should start yoga today.

Introduction to Yoga

1. Do NOT overstretch

Many beginners feel the need to "keep up" with the class and end up pushing their muscles past what feels like a comfortable stretch. This is the most common cause of people trying yoga, then quitting after injuring themselves. Think about it, it takes time for anyone to learn a new skill, let alone a new fitness regimen. Give your body time to adjust to what you are doing, you will feel it if you are pushing your muscles too far.

2. Breathe Deep

Oftentimes beginners forget the importance of breathing, despite instructors bringing attention to it throughout the class. This is no surprise if you are someone that has never really taken the time to breathe correctly. When you breathe deeply and methodically, you allow your body to decompress, taking it out of the "fight or flight" mentality which can hinder your flexibility and well-being. 

3. Stop Looking At Your Neighbors

Many people feel the need to compete with their neighbors and oftentimes end up pushing their body past their comfort zone. Just stop looking and listen to your instructor. Oftentimes instructors will walk around the room while talking and will make minor adjustments to student's poses. Beginners wouldn't be able to tell, but sometimes the most minor adjustments can bring the best results. Listen, learn, and follow correct form to get the most out of your class. 

4. Practice, Practice, Practice

Nobody is going to be a master yogi the first time they take a yoga class. Take your time when beginning, listen to instructors and above all, take time to practice and get used to the new moves you are putting your body through. Muscles will not change their flexibility or strength overnight. If you are serious about making a change in your life, make it a priority to practice at least 2-3 times a week. Click here to check out some different poses you can try at home.

5. Mix It Up

Unfortunately, the body may need more than yoga to avoid injury throughout the average person's lifetime. Certain injuries can stem from weak musculature, and may need a different form of exercise to get back into optimal shape. If you are experiencing weakness in any muscle, try some light weightlifting to give you some extra strength and facilitate healing in those weak muscles. If you have weakness or muscle pain that won't go away, make an appointment with a JOI physician.

Some friendly tips to leave with:

  • Listen to your body. You will know if you are pushing your muscles past their comfort zone. This is a good thing, but do it gradually to avoid serious complications
  • Don't worry about everyone else. That person on the mat next to you may be better at yoga, but the reality is they may have been practicing for years to get to that level. Check your ego at the door and focus on your own goals

Learn more about Direct Access to Physical Therapy at JOI Rehab.

By: Jon Stiffler, PTA, C-PS, CPT

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