• Author:
    Richard Weil, MEd, CDE

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What should be worn during yoga?

Any clothing that is unrestrictive will work. Tank tops, T-shirts, leggings, tights, or shorts will do the trick. You will be bending, twisting, and possibly be upside down during your yoga session, so wear clothing that won't expose more of you than you are comfortable with. You won't wear socks during your session, although you might want them handy for savasana at the end if your feet get cold.

Where can I try yoga?

Yoga centers are popping up all over. According to IDEA and the North American Studio Alliance, the number of facilities offering yoga has gone up from 31% in 1996 to 85% in 2002. Check the following Web sites to locate yoga near you: and

You can also check the Yellow Pages (remember the Yellow Pages?) or even your local parks department Web site. There may be a dedicated yoga studio in your area or a local rec center, YMCA, or fitness center that offers classes.

How much does yoga cost?

Expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $20 dollars per class depending on where you live. Many yoga studios have a one-time drop-in rate if you want to try a single class, or you can sign up for a series in which case the price per class will be less.

How do I go about getting started with yoga?

I remember my first yoga class. I wasn't concerned about being able to do the poses, but I was a bit skeptical about the chanting and the spiritual side of it. I remember sneaking a peek every few moments while all eyes were supposed to be closed to see what everyone else was doing. It turned out that the chanting and meditative breathing was a valuable part of the experience for me. It took a couple of sessions to get the hang of it, but once I did, it centered and calmed me and I felt great about it. I even remember sweating less while walking outdoors during the hot summer months as the result of just feeling calmer. To this day, I still do my favorite yoga exercise, sun salutation (surya namaskar), after every one of my runs, and if I am stressed, I will do a short one- to two-minute yoga breathing exercise with my eyes closed to capture the "yoga feeling" and calm me down. My experience with yoga is that, when I do it regularly, I am calmer, clearer, and feel good for having done it.

I recommend starting with a basic class. All yoga studios offer these, and all you need to do is call ahead or look at the schedule for beginner classes. I also suggest letting the instructor know if you are a first-timer so he or she can give you a hand when you need it. A helpful instructor will keep an eye on you and physically assist you with poses if you need it. It can make all the difference in the world if the instructor pays attention when you're struggling.

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