Tips for starting a yoga practice

Posted by Karen M. Wyatt on March 10, 2012 at 7:00 AM

It seems like everyone is doing yoga these days as this spiritual practice from India has taken the Western world by storm in recent years and become widely popular. But if you are one of the people who has not become a student of yoga, you might wonder why you should consider joining the crowd.

A new article published by researchers from three different medical schools (Boston University, New York Medical College and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons) shows that yoga may be effective in treating patients with stress-related psychological and medical conditions such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and cardiac disease. All of these conditions have been shown to improve with the practice of yoga even without the use of medications. That’s great news because yoga, if done properly, has few side effects compared to the drugs used to treat those illnesses.

In addition, according to the Department of Aging, there are four components to maintaining good physical health as we reach our senior years: strength, flexibility, balance and aerobic capacity. A proper yoga practice can actually develop all four of these capacities, improve your overall health and reduce some of the effects of aging.

If you are interested in checking yoga out for yourself, first read up on the types of yoga available and choose which one best fits your lifestyle. Hatha yoga is one of the most common types and might be a good choice in the beginning if you are not sure. Here are some additional tips for getting started with yoga in a safe and sane manner:  


  • Choose a yoga studio with certified teachers for your first class. Make sure they offer the type of yoga you are interested in. 
  • Sign up for a beginner class and tell the teacher you are new to yoga. This is very important so you get the level of instruction you need in order to learn the postures correctly. You can injure yourself doing yoga if you don’t know what you are doing and have no instructor to help you. 
  • Listen to your body. Yoga is not intended to be a competitive sport (even though yoga competitions do exist!) Go slowly and don’t push yourself past the point of comfort. Yoga is about stretching in order to reach a point of relaxation. 
  • Practice regularly, even if you can only do yoga once a week. The benefits of yoga are cumulative and you will find it becomes more rewarding when you work up to doing it more frequently. 
  • Develop a home practice once you have learned basic poses and feel comfortable with them. You will be able to maintain a more consistent practice when you can do some of it in your own home. There are many excellent videos you can follow for a brief or more extended workout and for different levels of exertion. (I recommend Rodney Yee yoga videos for beginners.)


Now is a great time to start a yoga practice no matter how old you are. Older people can begin right away to experience some of yoga’s benefits and gradually become more flexible over time. Younger people will be developing a practice that will help slow down the effects of aging and ensure better health in the future.

One of the ultimate benefits of a yoga practice is that it creates more balance and inner harmony by bringing together body, mind and spirit in one activity. The possibilities for growth through a dedicated yoga practice are huge so consider incorporating it into your life and start reaping the benefits now.

Categories: Lifestyle, Spiritual Practice, Illness & Healing

Copyright ©2010 Karen Wyatt, MD

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