10 Steps from the Couch to the Yoga Mat

YOGA MATPhysical fitness may seem challenging, but it does not take a lot to transform your body from being fat to fit. You don't have to join an expensive gym, dedicate hours to running on a treadmill, buy tons of expensive equipment, or hire a fitness coach. Your body already has all the necessary tools to help it stay fit. Yoga can help you utilize these natural mechanisms and abilities, and help bring about a magical transformation in your life. A bit of determination, discipline, and knowledge is all it will take. So long as you have a serious desire to get in shape and improve your health there should be nothing to hold you back from achieving this goal. Unfortunately life isn't as simple as we'd like it to be and although you may love the idea of being healthy and fit there may be several factors or concerns that are keeping you from this goal. Here are ten simple steps that should help you overcome your inhibitions, helping you across that bridge.

  1. Why yoga?

    Before you can actually dedicate yourself to doing something every day, you need to be absolutely sure that it is worth doing. Yoga is a form of fitness that was developed in ancient India thousands of years ago. In the last couple of decades, it has become increasingly popular in the West. This burgeoning popularity in itself is a testimonial to the effectiveness of yoga in promoting health. Recent medical studies corroborate what the ancient Indian mystics knew all along - yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for overall mental and physical fitness.

  2. But I'm very unfit.

    If you've not really been exercising on a regular basis, all the more reason to opt for yoga. The beauty of yoga is that unlike other forms of exercise, it lets you perform every exercise at your own pace. You don't have to run faster or lift heavier weights when performing yoga. It is not a contest. Just listen to your body and do as much as you are comfortable doing.

  3. I just don't have the time.

    Here's the good news. Yoga is such an incredibly powerful tool for fitness that you can gain a wealth of benefits by performing yoga for even 10 minutes every day.

  4. I don't have cash to spare.

    Probably the only thing cheaper than practicing yoga is taking a walk in the park. You don't have to buy any fancy equipment or join an expensive gym to learn yoga. There are a number of yoga DVD's available in the market that offer step-by-step lessons in how to perform yoga. Or better yet, just browse through the vast collection of videos devoted to teaching yoga on the Internet. If you're lucky, you may even be able to avail of free yoga classes. Check at your nearest community center for details.

  5. Pick a yoga mat. Or don't pick one.

    Just keep in mind that the majority of the yoga poses are performed in prone or seated positions. So it makes sense to perform them on a slightly padded surface. You can also use a spare mat or rug that you have lying at home. Just make sure that it doesn't slip.

  6. No special attire.

    You don't even need to go out and buy a new set of expensive workout clothes to practice yoga. All you need is some comfortable clothing that allows your skin to breathe.

  7. Balance your meals and activities.

    Avoid eating just before you practice yoga. Ideally yoga should be performed on an empty stomach. This is because it includes a lot of core conditioning exercises that place a lot of stress on your midsection.

  8. Shut out the world.

    Yoga is your time alone with your mind and your body. Don't let the outside world intrude. Find a nice, quiet spot where you can practice yoga without being disturbed. Switch off your phone and tell friends not to call.

  9. Listen to your body.

    This is to reiterate what I mentioned in Step 2. Yoga is not a contest. Perform each posture only up to the extent that you feel comfortable. If you feel the slightest discomfort or pain, you are probably doing something wrong. Barring a few sore muscles during the initial days, yoga should not be painful at all.

  10. Breathe.

    If you are learning yoga through a DVD or online video course, this is one of the most overlooked aspects of yoga. You have to breathe properly when practicing yoga. Breath is one of the pillars of yoga, and all yoga exercises are designed around slow and deep breathing. For most yoga poses you have to inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Also feel your diaphragm rise and lower with every breath.

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