For the beginner, starting a yoga practice can feel overwhelming. Especially with the unlimited amount of information available, it can be tricky trying to figure out where and how to begin.
One of the most common questions I receive across all social media platforms is, “How do I start yoga?”
In this post I will be giving you a few options, plus tips that I learned when I first started my yoga practice, with the hope that it inspires and motivates you to start your own.
It can be daunting learning anything new, but sometimes all it takes is a little courage to take the first step…
1. Learn Yoga In-Person
If you have the opportunity and it’s financially available to you, I would recommend starting at a yoga studio and taking a beginners class. Nothing beats learning from a teacher in-person who you connect with. Most studios will offer discounts to first time visitors, such as a 1-Week Unlimited Pass for $20. (If you’re currently in school, check to see if they give discounts to students!)
If attending a studio isn’t feasible, another option could be finding free community yoga classes. A quick Google search can provide you with information on free/low cost local yoga classes. Meetup is an excellent app that allows you to explore and discover different types of groups in your area. I’ve used this app myself to find free yoga groups in my area! It’s a great way to connect with your community and meet new people who share your interests. (Most groups are free, although some group organizers may charge a small membership fee.)
Donation-based Classes are another affordable way to start yoga. There isn't a membership to join or class fee that you're required to pay, however there usually is a suggested donation amount. You can check your local yoga studio schdueles for donation classes.
If a typical class setting sounds overwhelming for your first time, receiving private 1-on-1 yoga instruction might be more ideal for you. There really is no better way to learn yoga than in a private, personalized setting. Every body has anatomical differences specific to each individual. Within a group setting, it’s nearly impossible to address each specific anatomical difference. In a private setting you’re able to address your specific needs, goals and concerns. Your instructor can break down each posture step by step and personally show you how to safely access it, which can help improve your form immediately, making it easier and quicker for you to start practicing yoga on your own.
2. Learn Yoga AT HOME/Online
Thankfully, the internet has gifted us with a plethora of useful information, all available within our fingertips. Learning about yoga in the comfort of our homes has never been easier than it is today. There are plenty of amazing videos on YouTube as well as online platforms and websites such as YogaDownload, Gaia, OmStars, YogaGlo, etc. that brings us highly experienced practitioners with diverse teaching styles.
If you own a smartphone or ipad, another valuable source for learning yoga can be through apps. Here are a few I recommend:
Yoga Studio: Mind & Body. This was an app I personally used when I first started to learn yoga. It’s great because it has over 100+ videos, meditations and classes for you to try and you can even customize or create your own classes pose by pose. There are classes ranging from 5 to 60 minutes long and it’s suitable for all levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced, so you could continue to use it as you progress. They offer a free trial with the selection of a subscription option – Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, or Annual plans. (Gaiam recently just bought this app, so it has changed since I used it.)
Simply Yoga – Fitness Trainer. This app contains a 20, 40 and 60 minute yoga routine that steps you through each pose. It’s great for both men and women. There is a free version for level one practitioners and a full version for level two practitioners.
Other great apps to consider:
Asana Rebel – Yoga and Fitness, Daily Yoga – Workout and Fitness, Down Dog, YogaGlo – Yoga and Meditation
If you find a teacher you like online, see if they teach private 1-on-1 classes online. Some teachers will offer Skype sessions to make yoga accessible to everyone no matter where you live.
3. Explore Different Styles of Yoga
Yoga isn’t necessarily a ‘one-size-fits-all’ practice. Different types of yoga might be best for different types of people. If you’re just starting yoga and trying to figure out what style best suits you, don’t let the array of options scare you away. You don’t have to necessarily pick one style right away - incorporating a variety of styles into your regular practice can actually help you stay balanced. Try a few different studios or online classes, teachers and styles. Then stick with the one that resonates with you and be dedicated to the practice.
Here are some tips for beginners to keep in mind...
Yoga isn’t about athleticism or flexibility. Know that you do not have to be able to stand on your head or do full splits to be worthy of practicing yoga. Strength, balance and flexibility are a result of practicing yoga - not a prerequisite.
Work with your body, not against it. Don’t push your body to do things it doesn’t want to do. Nearly every yoga pose comes with a variation or modification. This is why we use yoga props such as blocks or straps- because they help to meet us where we are and safely explore deepening our practice. All students can benefit from props, regardless of their experience, body shape or physical ability.
Over time you will learn to listen to your body and honor it. This is important. During your practice and after each pose, pay close attention to how your body reacts. Rest when your body says rest. Try harder when you have the energy. Your body will naturally begin to tell you where it is holding tension and you’ll learn how to release it through different poses.
Remember yoga is NOT a competition. It isn’t a race either. The beautiful part about yoga is that we are all on our own unique journey but on the same path together. Everyone will be at different places and everyone’s body is different. Just because the person next to you can hold a handstand for a little, doesn’t mean their practice is “better” than yours. Don’t fall into the comparison trap. Try to focus on why you’re practicing yoga and what you want out of it. Allow others to be a positive influence but not something you compare yourself to.
The more you do yoga, the more you realize there is no such thing as advanced yoga. There is always something new to learn. The measure of “success” in yoga does not come from the external workings but the internal workings. This will set you free from the need to ever achieve any pose.
There’s no need to limit your practice to studio classes only. Cultivate a home practice in addition to studio time. You will learn more and start to progress towards you goals more quickly.
Learn about yoga philosophy and the Eight Limb Path. Yoga is more than asana (the physical practice). You will quickly discover that yoga goes beyond what occurs on the mat.
Practice and all is coming. One of the most important things to remember when starting anything for the first time is to stick with your practice and stay consistent.
Have an open mind. One of my teachers use to always say, “Try to be child-like in your practice – stay curious and playful.”
Have fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously and don't let fear stop you from achieving something great. Yoga will lead you on an amazing path of self-discovery, all you have to do is start.
I hope this post has provided you with some new insight or knowledge on how to begin your yoga journey. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out!