Can Yoga Be Fun?

I attended a yoga class once a few years ago and was so excited to add a new muscular toning exercise to my weekly regimen. The instructor was well qualified to teach a class and I was ready to sweat and work hard.  It was when she turned on the soft music and hit a chime with a tiny bell that I realized I had made a mistake. What I had not understood in time was that the class was a meditative style of yoga and there was to be chanting and meditating and not physical training. I quietly rolled up my mat and whispered a few ‘I am sorry’ on my way out the door. It was a very disappointing experience to me and was surely disruptive to the other participants. My experience met the definition of what is not fun: disappointment, a general feeling of being unprepared, and too much of the unexpected. It also was not fun feeling like I just wasted my time.

A yoga class.

A yoga class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People all over the world have practiced yoga and enjoyed it as an exercise system and as a spiritual lifestyle. It can be a lot of fun for practitioners. As my personal experience illustrates, however, anyone thinking about starting yoga should research the topic first. You first should know what style of yoga you are actually interested in and show up to the class fully prepared. If you are willing to try anything and have no expectations, then by all means, just show up to any class. If you do have a specific goal in mind, you should do your homework before you roll out your mat and take off your shoes.

The kind of Yoga for you …

So how do you figure out what to try? Being that this is the ‘Information Age’, there is a wealth of information about each of the yoga types available on the Internet. The Wikipedia page was extensive and reading its highlights would be a good start. There are also Internet chat rooms you can join to hear about more personal experiences. Another way to find the right class for you is to ask around and get recommendations from people you know who are already involved in yoga. If you have time, observe a class for at least a few minutes before you try it. If while observing a class you notice that everyone in it is miserable, you probably will not have fun during it either. Check out the environment also.

English: Balasana pose in Hatha yoga, commonly...

Balasana pose in Hatha yoga, commonly known as child pose, demonstrated by Doreen Foxworth of The Children’s School of Yoga (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Look for a yoga studio that is clean and well maintained. If you get the opportunity, talk to the instructor and get a feel for their personality and teaching style.

Once a newcomer figures out which yoga and whose class to try, they should start thinking about what to bring to class and other ways to be prepared. A participant should bring water, a towel, wear comfortable clothing, and shoes that are light with traction on the floor. One way to make the first few classes more fun is to bring a friend along. Bring a friend with similar goals. Don’t even think of dragging someone to a yoga class that does not know anything about yoga or is not interested in the health benefits. Know what equipment the class uses and if it is provided for you or you must bring your own. Some studios will provide a mat for you and others will not.

Each style of yoga has a specific discipline which is designed to enhance the student’s well-being. There are so many kinds of yoga; I cannot possibly list them all in this article. A few popular types of yoga are Ashtanga yoga, Bikram yoga, Hatha yoga, and Anusara yoga. If you do not know what they are, I can offer a brief explanation.

Ashtanga yoga classes will focus most on your breathing and the movement between poses. It is generally a more relaxed class and is a good start for a beginner. Bikram yoga is a similar yoga style to Ashtanga, but there is more structure in the set poses and breathing exercises. It is also important to mention that the Bikram yoga style is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Hatha yoga is most likely the type of yoga I have been wanting to try. It is much more athletically challenging and physical. It does have the other elements of yoga.

English: Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It includes breathing exercises and some meditation. Anusara yoga is the type of yoga I did not want to try. It is a very spiritual style of yoga and the emphasis is placed on improving one’s inner self. I suppose it could have been fun though, if I had been in the right frame of mind.

How to have fun at a Yoga session?

For you to have fun, you must first want to have the yoga experience. You need a positive state of mind and you must focus on staying open-minded during the class. People have been drawn to yoga classes for years. They wanted to tone their bodies, meditate on issues of the day, and increase their overall health. Fun can be increasing your energy, improving your flexibility, or challenging your muscles. A quiet chant can also be fun and so can a rousing stretch routine.

I think the most important thing I can say to people is that to have fun with anything you do, you must put thought into it and take charge. Fun is a state of mind. If you go dreading the experience, it is not likely to be fun. Think about what you feel like that day. What does your body need? Do you have the right amount of time available so you can relax and enjoy the class? Taking charge is not difficult once you decide what is best for you. If you need to change your environment to make the experience more fun for you, then do so. You can create your own music for a class, for example. If a pose or an exercise is too difficult for you, do not worry about keeping up with the class. Slow down and relax into it. Do not be shy. Approach the instructor or other students if you have any questions or concerns.

So, know before you go and know thyself. Keeping these things in mind, anything can be fun. Enjoy!

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