What is yoga, and why is it so popular? Yoga is a series of stretches and poses that you do with breathing techniques. It offers the powerful benefits of exercise. And since yoga is gentle, almost anyone can do it, regardless of your age or fitness level.
Yoga is a 5,000-year-old discipline from India. It was developed as a practice to unite the mind and body. There are many branches of yoga. All yoga styles can help balance your body, mind, and spirit, but they achieve it in various ways.
Some yoga styles are intense and vigorous. Others are relaxing and meditative. No matter which type you choose, yoga is a great way to stretch and strengthen your body, focus your mind, and relax your spirit.
The number one question I get asked as a yoga teacher and practitioner is “How do I start a yoga practice?” I know so many people who want to get into yoga but who feel intimidated by studios, or overwhelmed with all the options for classes. The other problem is that many studios nowadays say that their classes are ‘all level’ when they are really not designed for total yoga beginners—this means new students can get lost and feel like they just don’t have what it takes to keep up in class.
The truth is, with a little bit of detailed instruction and a lot of self-compassion, getting started on your yoga path is fun, easy, and exciting! Here are my top five tips for yoga beginners to get you started on your yoga path.
1. Do the Beginners’ Class or Workshop.
This is my number one tip if you are just starting your yoga practice and are confused about which classes are right for you. Most studios will offer either a regular beginners’ yoga class or a recurring beginners’ yoga workshop. I highly recommend taking a few of these classes or at least one workshop before you take the plunge into public classes or online classes.
These classes and workshops are designed to help you find proper alignment in your body in commonly used poses, and will also help you get comfortable with terms and names before you head to class. Trust me when I say you’ll be far less prone to injury and will feel more comfortable in class if you do this!
2. Go for the Beginners’ Trial Pass.
Another trend that most studios have is a ‘Beginners’ Trial’ membership pass. These passes are usually unlimited one or two-week long passes that give you time to feel out the studio, try out different teachers, take different classes, and see if this place is the right place for you!
Take advantage of the savings these passes offer (generally these passes go for a much lower rate than their standard class passes) and really ‘date’ the studio.
3. Go with a friend who already practices.
This can help you greatly narrow down your search for a home studio or preferred instructor. Ask any of your friends who already practice to bring you to the classes that they really enjoy and see if you jam with their preferred instructors.
Going with a buddy will also help to make the whole experience feel less overwhelming and more comfortable. Everything is more fun with friends!
4. Let go of comparison (the “Look How Far I Have to Go” Syndrome).
Besides wondering where to start, the second most common thing I hear from those who are new to yoga is “Whoa, look at you (or her) —I have SO far to go!” This kind of mentality is a total yoga mood killer. Remember this—yoga is truly a personal practice. The person standing on the mat next to you may be a professional dancer or gymnast. They have a totally different life and history from you: a different body, a different mind, and a different path!
There is really no use in comparing yourself to anyone else. Also, yoga is not about your physical ability to perform asana. You may never be able to reach your foot to your head, and honestly, it doesn’t matter. The point is that you are there, practicing, and showing up for yourself. With sincerity and honesty, I say, because you are there, you have nowhere to go. Drop the comparison and enjoy your journey.
5. Decide to have fun!
Lastly, try to avoid letting yoga become a serious endeavor. Sure, there are going to be times in class where the postures are really intense and you want to quit. There may come a time when yoga starts to stir up your old emotional baggage and cause you to feel out of sorts and off-kilter.
Overall, however, yoga can and should be a sanctuary where you get to step out of the craziness of life and reconnect with your breath and your body.
Plus, playing around with standing on your hands, putting your body into shapes with animal names, and breathing funny are all different ways to have FUN! Take the pressure off and let yourself enjoy. The more fun you are having, the more likely you are to stick with your practice. Let loose and let go.
What are your tips for beginners if you have been practicing for a while? If you are a beginner, did any of these tips help make you feel more comfortable with stepping onto your mat?