There are over 300 yoga studios in the greater San Diego area – a little overwhelming, huh? Especially for yoga newbs! This article is geared towards you – those who have seen the tree poses in the park, the perfect headstands before a sunset, and people with yoga mats strapped to their backs. Those who have wondered what the heck Vrksasana and all the other “sanas” are and whether or not they could do these things. Here’s the basics of what you need to know about yoga and then it’s up to you to decide whether or not you will begin on this challenging yet rewarding practice!

What IS Yoga?!

Yoga is a spiritual discipline that combines specific bodily poses, breath control, and meditation in order to achieve relaxation and clarity. While it can be practiced for religious reasons, many practice yoga for the physical benefits along with the emotional strength and clarity it can provide.

Where can you practice yoga in San Diego

An important tip is that you DO NOT need to spend $150 on a monthly membership to a yoga studio. In the beginning it might be nice to have some structure and a teacher or guru to ensure you are maintaining correct posture, but once you have become comfortable with the poses and the way your body reacts to them, take yoga to the next level. Take it to the privacy of your own home with no time constraints or better yet, to a scenic place like Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach or well, pretty much anywhere on the coast. There are plenty of DVDs and books that can help guide you along with your practice once you’ve gotten past a beginner level.

Why practice yoga

Yoga has many benefits, including but not limited to:

  • A sunnier, more calm outlook! Just one hour of yoga can help release a depression reducing chemical called GABA in the brain meaning a happier you!
  • Goodbye aches and pains! Are you one of the many who suffers from lower back pain? Schedule in two 90-minute stretch sessions and watch that back pain disappear. The poses improve your posture and also help correct your spine and strengthen your back.
  • Better sleep! Have a hard time nodding off? Insomniac or not, doing yoga before bed aids in how quickly you’ll fall asleep and also in ensuring better overall sleep quality.
  • Increased body confidence – Sure, looking good makes you feel great. But by tuning in and really paying attention to how your body feels and what it is capable of may be your true ticket to self acceptance and confidence!
  • Oh yeah, and all that stretching and twisting and bending WILL make you look better also! Especially the faster-paced athletic geared types of yoga!

Types of Yoga

While there are many different types of yoga, here are a few of the most popular types:

1) Bikram yoga– This is a very intense kind of yoga not just because the poses themselves but also because the room you will do Bikram in is typically at least 100 degrees. It sounds scary but is actually very purifying and cleansing – your impurities seem to sweat their way out of your system and you will leave feeling renewed. If you have heart problems of any sort, check with a doc first.
2) Astanga yoga – This is also a fairly demanding form in that your flexibility, strength, and stamina will truly be put to the test. Astanga is also called power yoga because you move quickly from one pose to the next. This is not a beginner friendly type!
3) Kripalu yoga– This is more beginner friendly and occurs in three stages. The first stage focuses on learning the postures and exploring your body’s strengths and weaknesses, the second is based on holding the postures and focusing on inner strength, and the third phase will have you moving from one posture to the next without rest.
4) Iyengar yoga – These instructors go through an intensive training before they become certified so rest assured that you will be in good hands. They will use foam blocks and stretching belts and will definitely notice if you seem to be out of alignment at any time.

Yoga equipment

Luckily, yoga is not too equipment heavy. You will need a good mat (you can find a cheap one at Marshall’s for $12), comfortable yoga pants or shorts if you’re doing Bikram and a flexible, comfortable top. A water bottle is never a bad idea. If you have long hair, a headband might be a good idea and a bag for your yoga mat ups the convenience factor. Other than that, you’re pretty much good to go.

Just Do it

Now that you know the basic ins and outs of yoga, just go on and get started. Experiment around until you find the right flow for you. Pretty soon you’ll be that glowing, flexible yogi you’ve always secretly dreamed of becoming!

Our trainer, Jessica, is also a yoga instructor. She is happy to answer any questions you may have.