AFTER ONE SESSION: After your first yoga session (or after the first one you've had in a while), you'll likely experience a variety of sensations. It can feel like "an awkward, sweaty first date," where you're noticing muscles you never realized you had and are perspiring in places you never knew you could perspire. Once you get through the first class, your emotions might be all over the place, from overwhelmed (How will I ever do this? I'm so not flexible), to relaxed and at peace (deep breathing will do that), to empowered (like I did it—I got through something I wanted to do and feel strong and capable.) Physically, you'll probably feel a little sore. But even after just one class, your shoulders will feel stronger, your hamstrings looser, and you will move your body in ways you probably don't before. Regardless of your current fitness level, even the morbidly obese can access this first state, or “gateway” into better health.
AFTER ONE WEEK: Let's say a week into your practice, you've had two yoga sessions, sometimes called the "honeymoon time." Just a week in, you will most likely be hooked on how your mind takes a break during the session, how your body opens up in the different poses, and the Zen vibe you feel after each session. Physically you'll start to experience a sense of openness in your body. Perhaps it feels more spacious and flexible in areas that are usually tight and tense. By your third or fourth class, you should feel yourself getting the hang of breathing and moving. You’ll love that your poses actually feel possible. You'll probably start sleeping better and noticing glowier skin, as well.
AFTER ONE MONTH: After a month of doing yoga a few times a week, you might notice some shifts in how you handle stress—now you find yourself breathing more deeply through tense situations (bad traffic, stressful meeting with your boss). You are not a Buddha—you still get pissed off—but you notice that your shoulders are no longer up by your ears, and your jaw is less tight. You might also feel some bottled-up emotions finally come out. Yoga forces us to be present, and sometimes when moving into more heart opening poses, some not-so-fun feelings will come up. It does not matter what type of yoga class you choose to take, you will still be able to notice an emotional shift.
Now that you're getting stronger, you might also start actively craving yoga. Don't be surprised if you find yourself ditching that happy hour for a sweat because you can now finally stay solid in a challenging pose. Your food cravings could also change. Don't be alarmed if you find yourself bypassing the french fries for a salad because that's what your body is craving. With all of those twists and wind poses, your digestion system is on point.
AFTER ONE YEAR: A year into regular yoga, your practice shifts from structured sessions to "yoga off the mat." It becomes a way of life - how you breathe, how you focus your mind, how you move. how you treat others, how you move with peace and presence and maybe you become less attachment to things. At this point in your yoga journey, your focus has improved, along with your stress levels and ability to handle confrontation. Depending on your initial physical capability, you can expect to begin participating in other forms of exercise. Yoga is a true gateway into physical exercise.
AFTER TWO YEARS: If you've managed to stick to twice-weekly yoga for two years, you can expect to look and feel more vibrant than you were even 15 years ago—the clock seems to be ticking backward. Meeting everyday challenges with grace has become more natural to you. You've got this calm breath superpower. You also notice that the difficult poses you used to avoid have finally become doable.
AFTER 50 YEARS: After a lifetime of yoga, you're guaranteed to be "badass, wise, and mighty." We've all seen those incredible yoga seniors—those gurus who can nail a dance pose with grace even at the age of 70. At this juncture, you understand that approaching each pose with a "beginner's mind"—with intention and presence—is the way to keep your love of yoga alive. Your body is stronger than 99% of people your age, you have amazing joint mobility, and your metabolism is strong. So strong that you can eat whatever, though you'll probably reach for water because you'll want to feel good and ready for tomorrow! Note: If you are under the care of a Physician, please check with them before starting any exercise regiment.