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Riley Heruska
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For many Americans, January is a month of self-reflection and a time to implement healthy hobbies. Whether you're trying to stick to your new year's resolutions or simply working to establish some better habits, you're probably thinking about making some positive lifestyle changes, and that's great. 

One of the most common promises people make in the new year is to start working out more. In fact, gyms typically see a significant peak in membership sign-ups around this time of year. However, the downside is that roughly 80 percent of people who join in January tend to quit within five months. People end up too busy to schedule workouts or their motivation wanes after a few weeks. 

If you're looking to pick up a new fitness hobby that you'll actually stick to, you might want to consider giving yoga a shot. More than 15 million Americans engage in yoga practices at least once a month, and that number tends to increase by about 14 percent per year. It's an easy habit to fall into, and the health benefits will keep you coming back for more time and time again. Not only does yoga leave you feeling significantly less stressed, but it can also improve your muscle strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. It's also highly correlated with a positive self-image and a healthy lifestyle. 

Luckily, the DFW metroplex is home to dozens of spectacular yoga studios and fitness centers/gyms that can help you embrace this new hobby. Do some research to find out where you can find the best yoga classes near you, then take the leap. You can also look up videos online and practice yoga in the comfort of your own home if you're trying to save money or enjoy privacy. 

Let others know about the best fitness center in your area by voting in our poll on the homepage of your community. It can be a gym, yoga/dance studio, or any kind of exercise facility. The survey will close on January 19. 

Not sure how you feel about embarking on your first yoga experience? Here are some tips that will help you feel prepared and allow you to get the most out of your session. 

1. Don't underestimate the importance of proper equipment and attire. 
Loose-fitting clothing can be a real nuisance when you're constantly contorting your body, so make sure you don some tight-fitting athletic gear before starting a yoga session. Also, those mats that yoga instructors rely on aren't just for appearance. You'll need a proper sticky matt to prevent sore joints, as well as painful slips. 
 
2. Remember that breathing is everything in yoga. Any yoga instructor will spend most of their time telling you how to breathe during various poses, so pay attention. It's not just baloney. Yoga breathing, or "pranayama," is the foundation of the practice and will help you reap the benefits. Your stress levels, flexibility, and overall experience will be strongly influenced by how closely you monitor your breathing, so listen to the instructor and take slow, deep breaths when they tell you to. 

3. Take your shoes off before starting your session. Yoga is the one type of exercising where shoes aren't just unnecessary; they're discouraged. Most professional yoga studios have a strict no-shoe policy so that you can fully experience the benefits of the exercises, from your head to your toes. Even if you're practicing in your home or outside, shuck your footwear and try going barefoot. 
 
4. Put your cell phone away while you engage in yoga practices. Yoga is all about fostering a quiet, relaxed mind, so glancing at your constantly buzzing cellphone is a firm no-no. As much as 90 percent of the U.S. population suffers from what researchers call "phone anxiety," and many of us experience phantom vibrations even when our phone isn't actually notifying us. The more focused you are on staying connected via your smartphone, the less attention you're dedicating to your yoga practice, so leave your phone out of reach during your exercise. 

5. Take a full five minutes after your session to relax and calm your mind. Most yoga sessions come to a close with a few minutes of pure relaxation. The "corpse pose" leaves you lying flat on your back, eyes clothes, entire body relaxed. Although it might be tempting to skip this final step and move on to the rest of your day, try to finish the full session. That last period of relaxation will truly help you de-stress. 

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