Before you start too far into considering classes and purchasing gear, first things first. Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and then ask yourself: What do I want from my Yoga experience? Consider the following questions:
✓ Do I simply want to try Hatha Yoga because it's a trendy thing to do?
✓ Am I hoping to find a way to decompress (clear the mind and alleviate stress)?
✓ Is physical fitness my main interest?
✓ Do I simply want to have a more flexible body?
✓ Does meditation intrigue me?
✓ Do the spiritual aspects of Yoga interest me?
✓ Do I have health concerns, such as lower back problems or hypertension that I expect Yoga to help handle?
Obviously, if your goals are entirely spiritual, you must choose a branch of Yoga that can best help you achieve those goals. You may resonate with Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, or Tantra Yoga, all of which we introduce in Chapter 1. (Unfortunately, you also need to pick up a different book because this book is meant to primarily serve candidates of Hatha Yoga, which is the most popular branch in the West.) If your main interest is in improving your health or overall physical well-being, or you want to become fit and flexible, you have to select which style of Hatha Yoga fits you best (refer to Chapter 1 for more).
\\V ^ After you're clear about your motivation and expectations, don't just think yJJL it — ink it. Write down your goals so that you can really focus on your specific ■ foj ■ needs. For example, your goal may be to be able to better cope with stress.
In order to achieve that goal, you have to take your particular needs into account. If you're a super-busy mom and have only half an hour of slack time at night during the week and perhaps a full hour on Sundays, your need is obviously to keep your Yoga program very simple.
No excuses, please
Most people are aware of how fast time flies in the 24 hours they're given each day. Yet if you look more closely at how you spend your days, you may find that not everything you do is necessary, and that in idle moments, you may miss the opportunity to recharge yourself or tap into your inner well of joy. If you've picked up this book and are reading these lines, chances are you have enough time to practice Yoga regularly.
If you think you're not capable of practicing Hatha Yoga because it requires too much flexibility or is otherwise too demanding physically, turn your attention to this truth: You can be as stiff as a board and still benefit from Yoga! The yogic postures help you become more flexible, whatever your starting point. Don't gauge yourself by the photos you may see in some Yoga books. They usually show advanced practitioners at their best. This book focuses on the needs of beginners. After you take the first few steps, the next big leap may not seem quite so challenging.
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