This Is Your Year To Get Started With Yoga, – But How?

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Here we are at the beginning of a new year. Once again you are trying to make promises to yourself that this will be the year you change your habits and get healthy. You’ve thought about Yoga, but you just don’t know how to get started. Possibly you’ve considered trying a Yoga studio, but feel super intimidated to walk into a class where EVERYONE seems to know what they are doing. Or, maybe you have a gym membership and have seen those people through the window doing Yoga and there are 70 people. Overwhelming, right!!!!??? I get it! So, you are intrigued at the idea of Yoga but think, “I just don’t know if it’s right for me, because I’m not flexible”. First things, first – get that idea out of your head right now! Let me just say that Yoga is not just about FLEXIBILITY, it is about breathing, endurance, strength, finding a sense of peace and calm among many other things. And, when we aren’t particularly great at something, that is the perfect reason to do it, TO GET BETTER! And in getting better we improve our overall health. If for no other reason, let that be your motivation to finally get started, improving your overall health!!!!

12476137_10208704716685333_1422176840_nThis year, set yourself up for a win, do it the right way and I can pretty much guarantee you, you will stick with it. I am a the owner of a small Personal Training & Yoga studio in Colorado Springs. I want to set my clients up for success, so let me give you some tips on how to get started with Yoga. First, I’ve taught those classes in the gym to 70 people and I will tell you, there is no way, even an excellent instructor can keep his/her eye on 70 people and make sure they are getting things right and practicing safely. Therefore, if you want to be safe and learn things correctly, the gym is not going to be your best bet. Walking into a Yoga studio with experienced students is a very brave thing to do if you are new, and most people won’t take the step to walk through the door. So, what’s the answer? You need to do a little research.

Setting Yourself Up For Success – What you need to find is a workshop or series of classes that is tailored specifically to beginning students. I myself, run these workshops about three times per year in a series of 8 classes. This is where an instructor can really get to know you and learn about any injuries or personal health issues that need to be taken into consideration. IKara Zebrowski | Colorado Springs based Yoga Instructor and Personal Trainer structure my classes such that we take the time to learn Yoga breathing, the principles of Yoga, breaking down the poses in detail, and learning to be in the moment. It needs to be a place were you feel safe, comfortable and free to ask questions. When learning Yoga I think it is important to be in an interactive class. If you’ve searched online and can’t find a studio with a similar offering, pick up the phone and call. I would suggest talking to the owner or manager. Let them know that you are looking for a beginning class or workshop. Several times, when I have received this type of call I have organized my next session. Ask if they might be willing to do this.

Finding The Right Style – If you’ve looked into Yoga at all, it can be plain overwhelming just to see the many styles of Yoga that are out there – Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Power, Iyengar, Hatha, Yin, Kundalini, Hot Yoga, Flow Yoga – and the list truly goes on and on. Let me use this is an opportunity to  help you sort out a style that might be a good fit for you from some of the most popular. Please feel free to do your own research into many other styles as well.

Ashtanga – These classes are usually a little sporty in nature. They have a repetitive quality to them. You will learn a sequence of poses and each time you come it will remain pretty much the same until you are quite proficient and then new poses are added. If you are someone that gets overwhelmed by new things all the time and prefers a more rote type of learning environment, this might be for you.

Vinyasa, Flow, Hatha Yoga – These will generally be pretty similar in nature. Vinyasa means flow, so any of these classes are going to feel flowy in style, meaning each poses connects right into the next pose pretty seamlessly. If you enjoying dancing, these styles may be for you as it feels a bit like a nice slow dance. As far as the speed of the classes, that is very much about the teacher’s style. Some teachers flow more quickly and others more slowly, so you will just have to find one that works at a pace that is comfortable for you.

Iyengar – If you are very particular about things, a bit of a perfectionist and always want to get things right, this may be the style for you. Iyengar is very alignment focused. You will spend quite a bit of time in each pose making sure you learn it right and practice safely. Usually not a quick moving class.

Kundalini – These classes include a variety of Yogic breathing. They also often include chanting as well. If chanting is not for you, this probably will not be your in your comfort zone. Some people love it and some don’t. If you like release through breath and by using your voice this might be a style you will want to visit.

Hot Yoga or Bikram – These classes are taught in a heated environment. Do some research if you are considering this because the temperatures can really vary from about 85 degrees on up to 105 +. The theory behind this is that the warm environment allows your muscles and joints deeper flexibility. In the Yoga world there is certainly some controversy surrounding Hot Yoga, so please consider carefully if this is right for you. It is very important to stay very hydrated in these classes. I have personally seen people pass out on more than one occasion. I am not a big believer in Hot Yoga especially once the temperature gets over about 90. I will say, however, this is very popular for high intensity people that like to push themselves and work at aggressive levels.

For a more in depth look at 20 different styles of Yoga, please check out this great article by Jenn Miller.

Finding The Right Teacher – A teacher can absolutely make or break someone’s Yoga experience. I always tell people that if they try a Yoga class and don’t like it, even my Yoga class, please don’t let that be the end of the story. I truly believe there is a style and a teacher for everyone, IMG_3269it may just take a little time and effort to find it. Once you’ve found the right style and the right teacher, I believe you will fall in love with Yoga! As with any relationship, it is about connection, so find a teacher that you enjoy their personality and feel comfortable with. Pacing is important as well, so again, experiment and see if you like to flow a little more quickly through class or do you like to hold things and spend time feeling the work. Do you prefer a man or a woman? Their are excellent instructors all over the place you just have to go find them?

If Yoga is going to become something you do on a regular basis, you will want to invest in a good Yoga mat. The less expensive ones you find at Ross, Homegoods, Target, Walmart etc., are not going to give you the grip that you need, which is really important. Here is a great resource on selecting a quality Yoga mat that is right for you.

In closing I will tell you that I have been in the fitness industry since 2000. Over the course of time, I not only have been a personal trainer, but have taught at least 15 different formats of classes at gyms, from boot camp to kickboxing, weight lifting to Piyo. I have literally taught just about everything there is to teach. I tried Yoga in my mid 30’s and thought it just wasn’t for me, too slow, not hard enough, among other things I told myself. As I got into my 40’s and started looking for safer, kinder ways to workout my body, I revisited Yoga, took the time to find the right style and teacher and I fell in love! I’ve now been teaching Yoga for 9 years and it is truly my passion. I have seen it not only change my body, but my mind and spirit. I was a pretty high strung gal. I can say without a doubt I have changed a lot, I am much more patient, kind, calm and content in addition to way more flexible and able to do things I never could have imagined I could do!

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I have seen drastic changes in my clients as well. The encouraging stories are truly endless. Let this be you. Give yourself the gift of Yoga, truly embracing all that it has to offer, and get ready for your life to change in dramatically positive ways. Wishing you a healthy and happy 2016!



Please fee free to email me with any questions you might have.


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