Please motivate me to take up Vinyasa Yoga
June 9, 2007 9:54 AM   Subscribe

What should I know about Vinyasa Yoga?

I'm thinking about trying out Vinyasa Yoga and would love to hear about your experiences with this type of exercise.

A few things I'm wondering are: What should I wear? (bonus points for specific recommendations) Is there anything I should do to prepare for a class, like avoid certain foods, or drink lots of water? Is there a best time of day for this type of thing? Am I going to be sore afterwards?

Finally, I'd love to hear about the benefits (I'm a 39 year old female, in fairly good shape, but not very flexible) as I could use some motivation to finally sign up!
posted by suki to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I took up Vinyasa yoga this year, and I love it! Expect the first five sessions or so to be quite difficult. You'll be using new muscles and building up your strength. Most people think of flexibility when they think of yoga, but there is a lot of strength involved. I was INCREDIBLY sore after the first few times. When I bring friends to my class, I always encourage them to take it very easy. You will be sore no matter what, so don't "tough it out" and hold a pose longer than feels comfortable. It's totally acceptable to rest on your mat for a minute if you're feeling exhausted, and it's better for your body to work up to it little by little than to tough it out and barely be able to walk for a week.

I got my yoga clothes at Target. Stretchy pants, a "yoga tank" and a sports bra. No shoes or socks. Don't eat right before, but don't go hungry, beause you'll need the energy. Bring a water bottle and a towel. Have fun! And stick with it!! It gets much easier once you know the poses and your muscles will surprise you with how fast they adjust to the new work you're giving them.
posted by bonheur at 10:04 AM on June 9, 2007

I find it very sweaty so try to drink lots of water. After my first class, I sat on a bench staring into space for about 20 minutes. But soon, it starts to add energy. You end up strong and supple: what more could you ask for?

Best yoga cloths are by lululemon. So great I used to smuggle them down from canada.
posted by shothotbot at 10:30 AM on June 9, 2007

Try to stand up front, Vinyasa yoga usually assumes you have some knowledge of the poses, so you'll want to be where you can see the instructor. Also don't be afraid to ask questions, especially when you come back to mountain pose.

I usually wear jazz pants (an example, I actually got mine from Walmart? or something), a leotard, and a large tee-shirt. Sometimes I take the tee-shirt off after I'm warm. Also bring a yoga mat and optionally a towel (or small blanket). You can also bring a block, although if you're lucky they'll have some that you can use in the studio...if they're offered, grab one at the beginning of class, or you can fold up your towel and kind of use that. You can also bring a yoga strap, although again they may have some there that you can borrow...the cheap option is to get an old men's tie that's too worn to wear but still holds together.

Vinyasa yoga really, really helped me with my hamstring flexibility. You'll do a lot of bends, both in the beginning and after you're warm which really "sets" the flexibility in. I went from mid-shin to floor in something like eight weeks/classes.

Oh, food... don't drink lots of water beforehand, it'll just slosh around and feel yucky. Try to eat a moderate meal around 3 hours before, so that it's mostly digested but you're not hungry again. Bring water with you, yes, and if you think you'll get hungry quickly you can leave a snack in the car for after. You'll probably want a nap after, too.
posted by anaelith at 11:28 AM on June 9, 2007

I agree with the comments above. Yoga is AWESOME. And really, you don't need much--no fancy "yoga" clothes or anything. Just wear clothes that are comfortable and that don't restrict your range of motion. I like capri exercise pants and tank tops, but whatever makes you comfortable is fine. (Avoid most shorts for overexposure reasons). I'd recommend getting your own mat if you plan on taking regular classes. They can be upwards of $25 some places, but they're also available for less than $10 at places like Ross and Marshall's.

Don't eat or drink alot right before class--you'll feel gross. Try to give yourself at least an hour between food and class. Bring water with you, and a small towel if you're sweat-prone.

The timing really depends on you. I prefer evening classes, it gives me energy and relaxes me (a yoga paradox!) Some folks swear by morning classes, but I found I wasn't as alert and flexible after just waking up. Try 'em both and see!

You will probably be sore afterwards. It works muscles most people don't use all that vigorously. Also be prepared to have sore wrists for a few weeks if you don't often do weight-bearing exercises on your arms.

My primary sport is long-distance running, and I had frequent hamstring problems before I took up yoga. Yoga has greatly improved my flexibility in all areas, but especially my hamstrings, and my running problems have disappeared. I don't think it's a miracle cure (or miracle weight-loss regime) but as an addition to an exercise program, it's great.

Last thing--every teacher has a different style and vibe. If you go to class and hate it, consider trying another teacher. "Clicking" with the teaching style can make a HUGE difference in your enjoyment of the practice.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 12:46 PM on June 9, 2007

Other people have the logistics covered, so here's some motivation and raving --

Vinyasa is my favorite kind of yoga! Not as slow as many Hatha classes, not as regimented as Ashtanga, not likely to get boring or ethereal, a really good workout. Admittedly, they are usually not the easiest of yoga classes. But if you're in pretty good shape, it'll probably be perfect. I could actually go on and on about how great is is and how it changes your body, self-awareness, mental calmness, etc., (realizing I should really start going again!) but why don't you just commit to trying it for a month and then re-evaluate if you like it?

When I first started, I was super-inflexible and self-conscious about it, but don't worry if you end up in a class with a lot of hard-core yoga veterans. They all started somewhere. If they've stayed with the teacher whose class you're in, it means you found a good class.
posted by salvia at 12:47 PM on June 9, 2007

One extra thing on shirts--if you don't want to buy special clothes, just make sure your top is fairly snug. The first few times I went to yoga I wore a regular old t-shirt and ending up fussing with it trying to keep from sharing my bra with the room while in a push-up position. Or I'd bend over into a position and end up with a face full of shirt.
posted by divka at 12:58 PM on June 9, 2007

I LOVE vinyasa yoga. The most important thing is how well you like your teacher, but if you find one you trust it's amazing. I was sore for at least three days after my first class, but I felt so accomplished. It's hard, not in terms of being flexible or whatever, because that will all come with practice and there are beginner, moderate, and advanced versions of pretty much ever pose (a good instructor will show you all three and let you choose which one you are most comfortable with.)

The most important thing I've learned is that there's nothing wrong with being inexperienced. Almost everyone else in my class is super advanced and before I started I had 0 yoga experience. But seeing them all do it totally inspired me. My classmates are at a pretty wide range of fitness levels–from the 55 year old sort of out of shape guy to the mid 30's woman who does an hour of spin class before yoga–but all of them are really, really good at yoga and give me something to stride for.

The benefits are an amazing sense of accomplishment when you've been practicing for weeks and finally, finally get yourself in to a certain pose. Vinyasa is the perfect blend of strength training, cardio, and flexibility it's a huge challenge but once you start working your muscles you'll feel the differences in your own body. For me it's seeing my fellow classmates who are all older than me getting into crazy hard poses and it's the personal challenge of learning a whole new set of skills and really seeing my efforts pay off with visible results. I still can't top the feeling of getting into scorpion pose after only 3 months of yoga.
posted by nerdcore at 1:23 PM on June 9, 2007

Second divka on clothing that's flexible but not too loose. Basically, any clothing works if it passes two tests -- movability and modesty. For pants, check the movability factor by trying the top picture here -- are your pants holding you back? Check the modesty factor by imagining yourself in poses like these: 1, 2, 3.
posted by salvia at 2:19 PM on June 9, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you everyone - consider me inspired! (Though I must admit that uncoordinated me finds that scorpion pose to be rather daunting!).
posted by suki at 4:07 PM on June 10, 2007

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