Here's my story - maybe it will give you a few ideas to dive in and start reaping the benefits of yoga.
In 1998, I was a junior at the University of Alabama, majoring in Flute Performance. I know everyone thinks music is a fun, easy major, but that is seriously not the case. Music majors balance academic classes with rigorous private lessons, intense rehearsals, constant performances, a constant stream of "your playing would be so much better if..." and "if you're not practicing, someone else is..." and a 7am to midnight daily schedule, with pretty much no weekends off.
Yeah, it was stressful! But, I didn't know what to do about it. One day, I was scurrying into one of my classes, complaining out loud about being too stressed, and finally I got some good advice.
The advice was, "Dude. Maybe you should try yoga." And it came from a sorta sketchy jazz studies/composition major who was best known for rolling his own cigarettes. But, it was good advice, and it clicked with me.
So, I used my newly-minted internet access (remember, it's 1998) to go on Amazon.com and order a VHS tape of Rodney Yee and Patricia Walden's AM/PM Yoga.
When my video arrived, I sat on the floor of my boyfriend's apartment (it was bigger than my teeny dorm room), and popped in that yoga tape, and WOW. I got hooked right then and there. The yoga just felt so good, releasing mountains of tension and offering a little tranquility to my frazzled brain. I kept going with yoga videos and books for the first few years of my practice, because in the 90's and early 2000's yoga studios weren't really hitting the streets of Alabama and Oklahoma (where I moved next) yet.
My recommendations for getting started with a yoga practice:
If you're too busy, too shy, or can't afford a yoga studio, start with a great video. All you need is the DVD, a mat, and maybe a few yoga blocks. You can use the belt of your bathrobe for a yoga strap, so don't worry too much about investing in props. Remember, the mat is mostly to keep your hands and feet from slipping, not so much for the padding, so you still need it even (and especially) if you are practicing on carpet.
If you want to work with a real-live teacher (extremely helpful!), but are concerned about the cost, look for free or donation-based (pay-what-you-can) classes in your area. These kinds of "community classes" are often held in studios, community centers, churches, and parks. In fact, come to the one I teach! I'd love to introduce you to yoga. :)
If you're ready to experience yoga with a community of students and enjoy the tranquil environment of a studio, look for classes in your area. Yoga Alliance has a database of high-quality studios and teachers by location, so that's a great place to start. You might want to check Yelp to see what others are saying, but don't be afraid to try out a few places and a few different styles to see what resonates most for you.
Lastly, working privately with a teacher is a fabulous way to get started. With individualized instruction, you are sure to quickly develop a practice that works wonderfully for you. This approach requires the greatest investment, but the greatest benefits, as well. Private classes are especially recommended if you have any recent injuries or serious illnesses - a teacher can work with you one-on-one to create a safe and healing practice for you.
So, get out there and get started! Feel free to comment on this post or email me if I can be of further help to get you going. Bring on the questions!