How to Get Started with Yoga

Question: As I age (I’m 68), I feel more general aches and pains. I’ve been active all of my life and now find that I don’t have the stamina or flexibility that I want to continue high-impact exercise. I see yoga studios that have opened all over my city, and read in every magazine and newspaper that yoga is the latest exercise fad. I want to try it but don’t know what to expect or how to go about picking a good teacher. Can you give me some guidelines about how to do pursue this?

Answer: Yoga has become enormously popular in the United States. It is much more than a fad; it is a system of holistic health and wellness that has been practiced for more than 2,500 years. There are many styles of yoga. In some classes, postures are held, while in other classes students are expected to “flow” through the postures at varying speeds.

Stephanie Foxman, a certified yoga instructor and psychotherapist at the Care and Counseling Center of Georgia, said, “The Iyengar method is recommended for beginners because the focus is on teaching proper musculoskeletal alignment in the postures. Iyengar instructors utilize precise verbal instructions and clear teacher demonstrations to facilitate learning, one posture at a time.”

So look for a certified yoga instructor who will help you modify poses to your comfort level. Select a studio with a supportive learning environment. You aren’t looking for a competition, but a place to mindfully practice. A healthy yoga practice should foster stability, strength, balance and mobility, defined by increasing flexibility. If you feel grounded or uplifted after the session, the practice has been beneficial.

Our expert: Jackson Rainer is a board-certified clinical psychologist who practices with the Care and Counseling Center in Decatur, Georgia, helping people living with chronic illnesses. He consults with a variety of experts to answer a selection of readers’ questions in each issue of Pain-Free Living.

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