Even experienced Yogis were newbies at some point in their lives – they wondered where to begin with Yoga in gerneral, how to start a practice and possibly also had no clue what to do – me included.
Everybody has different reasons for starting out with Yoga, but from all the Yogis I talked to, most of them had one thing in common: they weren’t experiencing their very best period of life when they started and all of them wanted some sort of expansion, change or recovery.
I started Yoga in 2012 out of curiosity (and also was at a little low-point back then) because I ‘heard’ that it’s supposed to be something good. But I had no idea what Yoga was and I just spontaneously signed up for a Vinyasa beginner’s course, starting two dyas after my decision.
I jumped into this new experience and thought about these few things after I walked out of my first class:
- wow, this was way harder than I thought
- this was way better than I thought and makes me feel good
- this was so different from what I’ve expected
- and damn, I need more comfy clothes
During the next few weeks I already felt some changes: I felt my body, even parts of it I hadn’t known, and I ‘really’ got connected to the physical part of me for the first time. Although I couldn’t even reach the floor with my fingertips in a standing forward fold, I was happy about every little inch of progress I made, and progress came quickly: I felt way more bendy, flexible and awake than just some weeks before, and I was mainly in a good mood, being full of energy. This was something I definitely hadn’t expected.
Best thing is: you can start at any time, any age, any gender, any body size.
Yoga is for everyone, and this is what I love about it.
So here are a few tips I wish I had known before I went to my first Yoga class:
12 Tips on how to start with your Yoga practice
1. Find a beginner’s class
I’d highly recommend going to a Yoga studio if you’re a newbie as there are so many things you can do wrong when it comes to alignment. You don’t want to strain your body too much, you want to transform it and use it correctly. It’s great to have someone to guide you through a practice, especially when you’re just starting out. You can learn a lot more from your teacher directly than on your own.
But if for some reason you feel uncomfortable in classes with other people, then maybe a private lession with a Yoga teacher could be an option for you. Of course, there are many online-videos out there, too, but a teacher who can adjust your poses and help you into them is very valuable, also to reduce the risk of injury.
2. The right style
There are so many Yoga styles and hardly any beginner knows where to start or with what. So the internet is your friend here: you can inform yourself about different styles before you sign up for a class. Ask yourself what you want: a calmer style like Yin-Yoga or something more spiritual like Kundalini Yoga? Something dynamic like Vinyasa? Something more static like Iyengar where the focus lies on props and alignment? Maybe something physically challenging like Ashtanga?
After all, it’s still best to try out many different styles in different studios to find out what you really like and what your body is capable of.
3. The right mat
Get a good mat. Usually you can borrow a mat at a Yoga studio, but it’s a great idea to get a really good and grippy mat for yourself. So you can make it your personal space for practice and you always know 100% how clean it is and who’s been on that mat before.
4. Comfortable clothes
Also, get some comfortable, stretchy clothes so you can enjoy every asana without feeling constrained by your clothes. Yoga is practiced without socks or shoes.
5. Food and water
Don’t eat anything heavy before the practice, eat something light a few hours before class and drink enough water. You should keep your body hydrated before and after the class, so bring a bottle of water.
Always let your teacher know about injuries and pains before the class, so he or she can modify some poses for you.
7. Take babysteps
Sure, all those advanced Asanas you might have seen in social networks look inspiring, and you want to learn them all right away. But be patient and spend most of your time with practicing the basics in the beginning, as they set the base for all following Asanas you build upon.
8. Inspire yourself
Social media is great for inspiration though. Don’t get intimidated by all the Yoga pros, floating effortlesly from one Asana into another, especially when they do crazy arm balances and wicked twists. But you can use their knowledge and get some tips they share across the internet and learn from them. Buy some books, read all you can about Yoga if you’re interested in knowing more about the background.
9. Be your own Guru but learn from others
Although some Yogis are convinced that a lifelong personal Guru-teacher is the best choice, I’d always prefer learning from as many teachers as possible. Different people have different styles, different knowledge and different truths. Keep in mind that you are your own best guru and you have to find your own way for yourself. But many people can help and support you on that path.
10. Be open
If you’re just starting, then you might not know much about Yoga yet. You might have heard that it’s ‘just a little rolling on the floor and doing some stretches’. But Yoga is so much more than just exercises. It’s not about a sweaty workout, it goes way deeper. The fact that the movements and Asanas train and shape your body is just a big bonus plus. Have an open mind. Be open for some chanting, unusual breathing techniques or meditation. Give it a chance although it might feel a little uncomfortable in the beginning – you might even like it after a while.
11. Practice, practice, practice
Once you started taking classes, try to make an appointment with yourself at the studio once a week or more often. Or, once you’re familiar with the basic asanas and sun salutations, you maybe even want to plan having a Yoga-date with your mat every day at the same time.
12 Have fun!
Maybe this is the most important part. Although some poses might be very challenging and almost painful, it’s how you deal with the situation. Try to surrender deeply to stretches, try to open your body and mind, try to breathe away the blocks and pain in your body. Use your mind and breath to stay present. Focus on the feelings in your body and observe the emotions that dwell up. Try to physically feel the energy each Asana creates.
And even if one pose might take you years to get comfortable in – keep in mind that the journey is the goal, not the ‘perfect’ Asana.