Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Hear that? That's the sound your body makes after a yoga practice. Seriously. I've heard my body say that.
Yoga is a great lesson in patience. It takes time to fully bend and stretch and not fall down during certain poses and it is an ongoing lifetime practice. I've been practicing yoga on and off again for about 12 years with some big gaps in between. I can say that my life always feels a little better when I have a consistent yoga practice. I feel more aligned, more steady, and more at peace.
The Importance of a Class
There are several things you can do to begin a yoga practice, but I honestly believe the best way to begin is in a class with a teacher. The great thing about yoga classes is that they come in all different levels. If you've never done yoga, but are afraid of going to a class, think of it this way - the beginner's class is for beginners. I guarantee 90% of the students in that class will be beginners. And if you're still worried about taking a class with other people, take a private class with an instructor.
Taking a class is important for several reason: you will learn how to work through the poses properly without injuring yourself, your teacher will explain how and why you are moving in a certain way, and you will know when to push yourself and when to hold back. Yoga studios are also a great place to seek the calmness you might not be able to find at a home practice.
Guided Home Practice
If you understand yoga basics and are looking for an introductory yoga DVD here are a couple I used to use when I was starting to practice at home.
I've always liked Gaiam's AM and PM Yoga. Its gentle, short, and very easy to follow. Yes, its from 2000, but I still go back to it from time to time.
I've also always enjoyed Karen Voight's Yoga DVD series. She is very easy to follow and has a number of discs available including Yoga Sculpt and Yoga Power. These are also from the mid-2000s so they are a bit older, but are great to use. These are also available on Netflix if you want to try out the discs before you buy them.
Advanced Home Practice
As much as I love going to a yoga class I am currently having a hard time finding time during my day to attend one. They also can get a little costly after a while. I like having a home practice because I can more readily find the time with a flexible schedule then trying to squeeze in a class in between meetings or trying to rush to a class before or after work.
My new favorite Yoga DVD comes from instructor Travis Eliot called The Ultimate Yogi. It is a 108 day yoga journey consisting of 12 different 1 hour+ DVDs. He's a great teacher: calm, encouraging, and purposeful. The DVD set also includes a basic meal plan and meditation practice. It is without a doubt my favorite home practice. It is challenging, yet easy to follow. Here's a brief intro to the series: