Seems like everyone is talking about yoga these days, from the magazine that landed in your mailbox last week to your neighbor who can’t stop raving about how it’s transformed her mental health. Everyone seems to be seeking the magic of mountain pose and downward facing dog. Haven’t tried practicing yoga yet? What’s holding you back?

Maybe you think it’s only for the young and fit. (It’s not.) Maybe you think it’s only for women. (Definitely not.) Maybe you’re just nervous to try something outside your comfort zone. “Everyone can do yoga!” says Kathleen Schauer, studio manager at CorePower yoga. She promises that yoga is a judgement-free space where everyone is striving to improve. If you want to get in on the craze, we’ve got you covered with our beginner’s guide to yoga.

Do Your Homework:
Not sure you’re quite ready? Our Cameron Village Library has a great selection of books so you can brush up on your asanas. (That’s yoga lingo for pose – it’s Sanskrit for posture or seat.) It’s easier to walk into a class when you know the language. Every Body Yoga by NC author Jessamyn Stanley is a lighthearted place to start, there’s a copy on the shelf for you!

Pick the right class:
As a newbie, you’ll want to find beginner-friendly classes. CorePower Yoga has options for any level, but first timers will want to start with C1 or CoreRestore classes. Hot Power Fusion is another great option since they always do the same sequence. When you arrive, get there in plenty of time to introduce yourself to the instructor. Let her know it’s your first class so she can give a helping hand when you need it. Kathleen says, “It takes a lot to set foot in a new place. Know that this is a safe place to try!” Remember, everyone in the room had a first ever yoga class!

What to wear:
Comfort is key here. The last thing you want to worry about in a yoga class is a wardrobe malfunction. Stick to clothes that move with you, that stretch without pinching or binding. Julie Gilbert, a yoga instructor and enthusiastic customer at Great Outdoor Provision Company, says to avoid cotton and stick to clothes that wick away sweat.

Typically women wear athletic tights or leggings, which are fitted at the ankles, or yoga pants, which have a little more give through the calf and ankle. But at the studio you’ll see plenty of athletic wear options. At Great Outdoor Provision Company you’ll find prAna, comfortable yoga wear with a love for sustainability, and their newest line of yoga apparel, Lole. Julie’s a fan of the drawstring waist on Lole yoga pants, and the fun prints and colors show her spunky side. “Show your personality a little!” she adds. “Wear something you love so you feel more confident.” If you’re looking for yoga wear that does double duty for all your workouts, Capital RunWalk has plenty of Nike Dri-fit to keep you feeling cool while you break a sweat. Even a first time yogi can look the part of a pro!

What to bring:
For most classes, a yoga mat, towel, and a water bottle are all you need. Mats are slightly sticky to keep you from sliding on the hardwood floor. Grab one at Capital RunWalk, and pick up a Skidless Yogitoes or eQua towel while you’re there. These grippy towels go over your mat, helping to absorb sweat and keep you from slipping. Yoga blocks and straps can help when you’re not quite ready for a pose and need a little extra support, but certainly aren’t required. Teachers can help you find modifications for challenging poses if you don’t have the extra equipment. Bring yourself and enthusiasm for a new challenge!

What to expect:
Like in any fitness class, you’ll start out slowly, warming up and loosening tight muscles before progressing into tougher poses and faster transitions between them. Typically, the instructor will describe the poses verbally while doing them, especially the first time through. And you can always back out of a pose to catch your breath or glance around to be sure you’re on the right track.

Free Your Mind:
Yoga is about much more than just stretching into the perfect pose. It incorporates mindfulness, meditation, breathing techniques, and an awareness of your body. Let it happen. Stop comparing yourself to others and quiet your mind. You’ll almost always end with a relaxation pose to fully absorb the benefits of the practice.

Still not sure yoga’s your thing?
Totally fine. No fitness routine is right for everyone, and even veteran yogis should mix up the workout from time to time. September is a great time to try out something new, to make fitness a part of your routine before the cold weather puts the the brakes on outdoor workouts and pumpkin spice everything destroys your healthy eating plans.

If you want to get some of the same stretching and toning benefits of yoga, try a FlyBarre class at Flywheel sports. Like yoga, it primarily uses your body weight for toning, but it’s much more upbeat and fast-paced. Studio Manager Jenny Roberts says that, like their Wheel classes, at FlyBarre you can reserve your mat so there’s no scramble to grab your fave spot. With fun music and passionate instructors that push you past what you thought you could do, this high energy class will tone muscles you didn’t know you had!

And stay tuned for details on an early morning yoga class at Great Outdoor Provision Company taught by Julie Gilbert. She’ll offer mini-sequences: yoga for swimmers, yoga for paddlers, yoga for hikers and more! When you’re done, you can check out the new Lole line in person. Keep an eye out on the events page for all the details.

Whether you decide to try yoga or not, find something active to get moving. Let today be the day you recommit to taking care of you!

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