Skipping Class

Traditionally, Yoga is passed down from teacher to student. However, a few accomplished yogis and yoginis are self-taught. These independent spirits set a precedent for those who enjoy exploring new territory on their own. If you live in an isolated area and don't have easy access to a Yoga instructor or class, don't be disheartened. You still have several choices that can help you begin your yogic journey (and in the appendix we provide you with a fairly extensive list of resources). Here's an abbreviated version:

Audiocassettes

Books

CDs

DVDs

Magazines

Newsletters

Newspapers

Television

Videos

Because Yoga is a motor skill, most people without access to a teacher rely on a DVD or video for instruction. If you opt for this particular approach, we recommend that you learn a routine and then begin listening only to the instructor's voice rather than focusing on the screen. Yoga emphasizes more inner work than outer activity; watching the screen interferes with this process. Listening to a disembodied voice works better. According to Yoga, the eye is an active and even aggressive sense, whereas the ear is a more passive receptor. That's why CDs and audiotapes can also work well, provided they're accompanied by informative illustrations.

We prefer a good Yoga book over magazine or newspaper articles, simply because the creation of a book usually requires more in-depth, detailed consideration of subject matter and presentation. Plus, they have fewer advertisements taking up valuable space than periodicals do. Look for our book recommendations in the appendix. But don't discount the value of a newsletter from a backyard Yoga studio, especially if it comes to you via the electronic ether. The publication can be a real find if it comes from a legitimate source.

The difficulty with self-tutoring at the beginning is that you may have trouble judging good form from bad form. You need time to understand how your body responds to the challenge of a posture and determine the proper correction for your body's own optimal form. Some people use a mirror to check the postures, but that only tells one side of the story and, more importantly, it externalizes the whole process too much.

Become comfortable with checking from the inside, through inwardly feeling your body. Until you're proficient at doing so, seek out a competent instructor if at all possible. He or she sees you objectively — from all sides — and can thus give you valuable feedback about your body's specific resistances and requirements.

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Yoga For Your Health

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