Health: Starting a yoga practice

Central Floridians attend a class at Red Sun Yoga in Winter Springs. (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

Last summer, I made a decision that changed my life: I started a yoga practice. After spending much of 2020 sheltering in place, I discovered a “30 Days for $30” promotion at Red Sun Yoga in Winter Springs. While I had tried yoga years ago, it just didn’t stick. I always felt like I was doing something wrong. But, with the continued pressures of the pandemic, I needed more movement and stress relief in my days. I gave yoga another chance. I now practice yoga three to five times a week, including a mix of in-person group classes and virtual home classes.

Why did yoga stay this time? For me, it was all about finding the right studio, one that offered a variety of classes, with schedules that fit my schedule, with supportive teachers, with a quiet vibe. Red Sun ticked all my boxes.

“Each studio has its own vibe,” says Sarah A. Morgan, owner of Red Sun. She notes that some studios focus more on the physical component of yoga (think downward-facing dog). But yoga also encompasses things like mindfulness, breathing techniques, and meditation.

How to find the right studio and start a yoga practice? Follow these tips:
Consider proximity. If you plan to attend in-person classes, you’ll need a nearby studio. If it is too far, it will be more difficult to practice regularly.

Manage expectations. How? “Don’t have one!” Morgana said. “Go with an open mind. Don’t think you’re too old, too fit, too crap,” adds Morgan. “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.” Katie Donzanti agrees. As the owner of The Peaceful Peacock yoga studio in Orlando, Donzanti often hears people say they can’t do yoga. “I tell them, ‘I think you can. All you have to do is try. We never start to be experts in anything.

Just start. “I highly suggest taking a beginner’s class or a private session to learn the basics,” says Cortney Singleton, yoga instructor at Orlando Power Yoga. She suggests borrowing or renting a mat, then investing in a voucher when you’re more committed. “All you need is comfortable, lightweight, stretchy clothes,” she says. Donzanti adds, “Know what your pace is, like practicing daily or weekly. There is room for frequent and sporadic yogis.

Don’t give up after the first lesson. “Try yoga for 30 days because you might not resonate with a class or a teacher,” Morgan advises. “Try different studios and try all the courses in the program.” Singleton echoes that sentiment, saying, “Give yoga 40 days. It takes that long to develop a new habit and feel the difference in your body and mind.

Leave your ego at the door. “That’s probably the hardest part,” Morgan says, noting that no one in the studio is watching you. “Everyone is inner-centered because yoga is such an inner-centered practice.” Donzanti agrees, saying, “Give yourself grace in space. Celebrate every breath you take, it means you’re alive! »
Listen to your instincts. A good teacher will suggest many modifications to make the poses easier and more difficult. For example, if you can’t touch your toes, stick to your calf, suggests Singleton. “Be aware of what your body can do,” she says. “Yoga is not a competition – with yourself, the person next to you or the teacher.”

Don’t worry if you do something wrong. As long as you are moving safely in a way that feels good to you, you are doing yoga well. Some teachers may offer gentle adjustments (to avoid injury), reminders (“relax your facial muscles”), or tips (like what a properly executed plank looks like). But don’t be afraid to ask the teacher questions, Morgan points out.

Leave your cell phone in the car. “Don’t be afraid to disconnect from the outside world,” advises Morgan. “Really use this time to focus on yourself.”

Ready to start? Check out the different studios’ websites and read their FAQs (about what to bring, policies, etiquette, etc.) so you won’t be surprised at your first class. When you are ready, introduce yourself and breathe.