All that is needed to perform hatha yoga is a flat floor and adequate space for stretching out. A well-ventilated space is preferable, for facilitating proper breathing technique. Yoga mats are available which provide non-slip surfaces for standing poses. Loose, comfortable clothing should be worn. Yoga should be done on an empty stomach; a general rule is to wait three hours after a meal.
Yoga is an exercise that can be done anywhere and requires no special equipment. Yoga uses only gravity and the body itself as resistance, so it is a low-impact activity excellent for those who don't do well with other types of exercise. The mental component of yoga can appeal to those who get bored easily with exercise. By the same token, yoga can be a good stress management tool for those who prefer movement to sitting meditation.
As with any exercise program, people should check with their doctors before starting yoga practice for the first time. Those with medical conditions, injuries or spinal problems should find a yoga teacher familiar with their conditions before beginning yoga. Pregnant women, particularly after the third month of pregnancy, should only perform a few yoga positions with the supervision of an experienced teacher. Some yoga asanas can be very difficult, and potentially injurious, for beginners, so teachers should always be consulted as preparation for advanced yoga positions. Certain yoga positions should not be performed by those with fevers, or during menstruation.
Those just beginning hatha yoga programs often report fatigue and soreness throughout the body, as yoga stretches and exercises muscles and tendons which are often long-neglected. Some yogic breathing and meditation techniques can be difficult for beginners and can cause dizziness or disorientation; these are best performed under the guidance of a teacher.
Douglas Dupler, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,