What can I expect during a yoga class?

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You can expect that your yoga class will probably start with gentle warm-up exercises -- probably a series of breathing exercises and gentle stretches. From there, the instructor will take you through several postures (asanas). You may hold these positions for a few seconds or a few minutes. Depending on the specific posture, you will start from a seated, standing or prone position.

You may already know some of these movements -- for example, the cross-legged seated Lotus position. Others will feel like the shoulder rolls or stretches you may already do. Some will be unfamiliar, though.

Don't worry if you can't do each posture perfectly. As long as you keep it safe and mindful, the pose is always perfect. Yoga is about the process itself. You don't have to do everything the class does. Go at your own pace. Eventually, you will perfect your form. Remember, the point isn't to push beyond your limits.

During the process, be sure to breathe slowly and deeply from your diaphragm and move gently. Take breaks as often as you like, and never do anything that causes any genuine pain or discomfort.

Most yoga classes will end with a final relaxation or "corpse pose." There may also be a short meditation.

Classes generally last 60 to 90 minutes, and you may attend class once or several times a week. It's important to develop a daily practice. This means doing yoga on days you aren't in class -- shoot for about 30 minutes. If that sounds daunting, start with 5 or 10 minutes and work up. If your schedule doesn't allow for daily practice, try for four times a week for about 45 minutes.

Many yoga classes offer a gentler workout. While yoga is not like an aerobics class, it will still be challenging. There is a great increase, too, in the number of physically strenuous, faster-paced classes on schedules these days. Regardless of which experience you choose, when you finish, you shouldn't feel exhausted. You should feel refreshed, relaxed and energized.

Aside from your regular yoga practice, you can work on some of the seated postures during the day while at the computer. And you can practice the deep, diaphragm-based breathing techniques anywhere.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.