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considering yoga

I am considering taking a yoga class but I'm a little scared. I've never done yoga before.

I'm generally a runner, but I am newly recovered from a stress fracture that just about killed me with stir-craziness and I am determined not to get another one, so I'm looking for a cross training activity that does not involve a weight room.

The class I'm looking at is a Tuesday Thursday night class, 45 minutes.

So I have lots of questions. Do I need to do cardio workout first or is yoga enough if I run the other days of the week? I know yoga is supposed to improve your strength, balance, and flexibility (which would be good, as I suspect I am highly inflexible). What are the other health benefits you all have experienced from yoga. What are the drawbacks? Is it something you find yourself practicing at home?

Your questions depend largely on what type and what level of yoga you're doing.  Some forms of yoga are not strenuous at all, and focus mainly on stretching.  Other forms of yoga are quite strenuous.  I need strenuous workouts every day to keep away my restless leg syndrome, and astanga yoga definitely does the trick all by itself.  If you also need a strenuous workout, you may or may not be satisfied with your 45 minutes.

As to your question about health benefits of yoga, I think you hit all the "purely physical" ones I can think of.  Other health benefits are an improved awareness of one's body, warding off depression, greater peace of mind and improved body image.  As to drawbacks, hmm... well, I use it as my only form of strength training, and some muscle groups are harder for me to hit with yoga.  I've had a hard time taxing biceps and pectorals with yoga.  It is definitely something you can practice at home.  A good video is an excellent help.  I like David Swenson's primary series.

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I have practiced Yoga and Meditation for eight years and I love it. As Cephi posted it depends on what kind of yoga you do. It can be very strenuous or not so. I take a class once a week and up until recently would do it every morning. Lately I have been too tired but need to get back into my rhythm.  My class is very traditional hatha yoga. It is taught by an over 75 year old man from India who learned it from his uncle as a child. He spends a lot of time on "the self" and meditation.  It is great for flexibility and just makes you feel good. I especially like the shavasans- relaxation pose!! - Laura  :D

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Yoga is fantastic!

I only have one yoga DVD, and I do it at home in my bedroom (it's yoga with a stability ball), but it really makes me feel great and helps to relieve general tension. I like doing it alone because I feel self-conscious about my chubbiness in workout clothes.

::)

If you find that you enjoy it, I'd also suggest a beginner's pilates class. Pilates is similar to yoga, but faster-paced. It is definitely a cardio workout!

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I thought about doing yoga a lot and then happened upon Yoga For Dummies in my mom's books. The recommended routines in there start you our very simple, good for us inflexible people. I'm the kind of person who likes a chance to figure something out on my own first, so i've been doing the routines from that book and eventually I'd love to take a class. I think the mental benefits of yoga are just as great as the physical benefits, when I am consistent with my practice it really makes me feel better in all aspects of my life. Good luck!

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i loooove yoga!

i got started with acouple Denise Austin videos. "Fat Blasting Yoga" is really good, it gives u 3 different sessions. the frst  is all the basic yoga poses put into an exercise program almost, the second is more of a relaxing yoga session because its shorter and focuses more on holding the poses longer, and the third is yoga with a stability ball (which i personally never do)

then i got her other dvd "Power Yoga Plus" which is also great. it's very relaxing.

i do one of Shiva Rea's dvd's "Core Abs Yoga" or somethin like that, but i wouldn't really say its for beginners, even though it's not hard.

if you're worried about starting out with a class straight away, i'd reccomend getting the first dvd i mentioned and practicing a little so u feel comfortable at a class. that's what i did. i did yoga for over a year before i took my first class at the gym and it ended up being the exact same thing from the Denise Austin video.

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yoga is something that really helps centre me - and I'm trying to fit in at least a few poses each day. what's really helped is that my instructor is amazing... she's really been supportive and now even the sound of her voice calms me down. I haven't been able to find anything like that with a yoga video.

I do ashtanga, which is a little intense, but if you're just starting out, take an intro course - then slowly move on to more advanced levels (of whatever type of yoga you decide to take).

hope that helps!

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I am not exaggerating...practicing yoga has completely changed my life.  Yesterday was actually my "yogaversary."  one year!  Haha.  Anyway, I practice Anusara yoga, which is fairly intense, but very spiritual.  I go to the studio at least 4 times a week and each class lasts 90 minutes.  I don't usually do any other workout on those days, but when I first started I did because the beginner class was not as intense. 

As others have stated, the benefits of yoga are great.  In the past year, I have learned to calm my body, both physically and mentally.  From my experience, if you dedicate yourself to a regular practice, you will find yourself more able to "let go" of the little things and focus more clearly on the big things. 

Physically, my body is much stronger.  I do cardio and weights now, but for a while I was only doing yoga.  I noticed quite a few differences in muscle strenght (esp some muscles not frequently used).  The intermediate and advanced classes that I go to are pretty intense and provide quite a bit of cardio (without you realizing it...suddenly you just notice your heart beating and sweat pouring!).  I find that the yoga gives me more stamina in my other workouts. 

I heart yoga!!!!  :-* 

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I just wanted to thank you all for your helpful info and advice. I just got back from my first ever yoga class and while I am definitely ***not*** a natural, I think I will go back. I enjoyed it and it was more of a workout than it looks like! Maybe someday I will even succeed in touching my toes...

Thanks guys!
Leah

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That's great Pineapple!  I love it realize what a great workout is (esp those who make fun of me for "just sitting there indian-style and saying om." Haha)  Anyway, don't worry about touching your toes.  Do what your body says it good for you right now.  My teacher frequently says "If you can put your leg behind your head, does that make you a better person?"  I love it.  It kinda gives me a kick in the a$$ to think about why I practice.  Anyway, like I said in my earlier post, Tuesday was my 1 year anniversary at my yoga studio.  When I started, I could not touch my toes by a long shot.  In a few weeks I could touch my toes.  Now I can wrap my hands around the bottoms of my feet.  You will get there!  Again, I am so excited for you!  Keep us updated on the classes. :)

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Go for it, yoga is a wonder of the world for me, as an exercise tool it can be as vigorous or as relaxing as you want, and yet so calming and refreshing for the mind, it brings me to my senses, puts things in perspective and makes me feel good to be alive.  It's broadened my horizons and opened my way of thinking.  The asanas are something I always come back to and when I lapse a little I find myself reading yoga-related books.  I'm drawn towards Buddhism but none of it seems new to me, if you know what I mean ... anyway, in short, I'd say go for it.

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