The practice of yoga is intriguing to people all across the world, but most don’t know how to go about starting a yoga practice. Many may abandon the idea of starting a practice, simply because they don’t know what to expect. The beauty of yoga is that you don’t have to be a yogi to reap the benefits. Whether you are young or old, overweight or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body.
However, it can be challenging and a bit scary to be beginner yogis. To help you feel a little more comfortable before you say your first “om” or “namaste”, here are 10 tips to help make the experience “love at first breath.”
1. Begin where you are
We start from where we are – right now. There’s no where else to begin! No matter your level of fitness, or experience with yoga or similar practices – you can find a class that feels right for you. Ideally, start in a class specifically designed for beginners—where you’ll learn foundation poses, alignment, and breathing fundamentals.
At Yoga Roots, all of our classes are open for all-levels. Meaning, you can join any class that suits your schedule, and during class listen to your body and your own pace of practice (see tip no. 9 below). If you are still hesitant to jump into a class, we have courses just for beginners about once a quarter.
If you’d like a tip in the right direction for a beginner friendly weekday class, a vinyasa or yin yoga class is a good place to start. You can also join any of the aerial yoga classes as a brand new beginner too! The teachers will adapt the class to be accessible for anyone. In these classes you have the opportunity to explore the postures and fundamental principles of yoga.
2. Arrive early
When you are going to a new studio for the first time, give yourself about 15 minutes before the class starts. This will give you time to get settled, locate the changing room and bathroom, acclimate to the energy of the space and also meet your teacher. You can ask them questions or express any hesitations you may have as a new student. This is also the perfect time to let the teacher know of any injuries you may have, so that they can properly cue you to avoid any further strain.
3. Take your time
Yoga is not a race—your yoga practice is YOUR time to slow down, breathe, move into your body, and connect.
It’s ironic, really. We spend all day rushing around from place to place, moving through tasks at what feels like a whirlwind pace, only to get in the car (or on your bike or on the train) and zoom to yoga class. Then we change our clothes, roll out our mat, and move right into our practice. Phew! This is where we need to practice that mindfulness thing, right? Take a few deep breaths, don’t worry so much about keeping up with the rest of the class. Let yourself flow into your practice at your own pace, and most importantly, enjoy it!
4. Don’t force yourself into a pose
I know, it’s so easy to look around the studio and see someone else in a totally fabulous Eagle pose or sitting serenely in a Lotus pose with both feet tucked up nicely. You start to think, my body should be able to do that! And then you try to force your poor arms and legs into a pose that they’re just not ready for.
Working your way into some of those advanced poses takes months or years or practice. Remember what I said before about taking your time? Take your time yogis. Enjoy your practice. Let yourself feel good in every pose, no matter where you are. Forcing yourself into a pose is a prescription for injury.
5. Don’t be afraid to use props
Avoiding injury is paramount for beginner yogis. An injury can set you back weeks, months, or make you give up yoga altogether. Using yoga props is one of the best ways to avoid injury and learn the poses of yoga. Yoga props like blocks, straps, blankets, and hammocks give our bodies much-needed support as we’re building strength and developing flexibility.
6. Wear comfortable clothes
Wear something stretchy and comfortable. For women, leggings, a sports bra, and a t-shirt is a great option for many. For men, athletic pants, leggings or lined shorts, paired with a breathable t-shirt are perfect options to stay comfortable in class. Make sure your clothes allow for free movement. Also, you’ll likely remove your socks and shoes for the practice. Bare feet help you connect to the ground and balance and help prevent slipping. In colder weather don’t forget warm socks and a sweater for shavasana!
7. Look into online classes
If starting your practice at the studio is a bit too intimidating, online classes are a great option. Online streaming platforms have grown immensely over the past few years. So you’ll have a wealth of options to choose from. Why not check out the free online classes that Yoga Roots offer! Or get unlimited access to their digital platform of over 50 classes for just 295 sek.
8. Set an intention
One of the most challenging aspects for beginner yogis is quieting the mind and focusing on the present moment. It is easy for our minds to wander and to be only practicing in a physical sense, rather than connecting the mind and body to the practice.
To help center in on your practice, come to your mat with an intention in mind. Often the teacher will share an intention they have for the class—you can choose to follow this if it speaks to you, or to use your own. Intentions are personal and can be just about anything that works for you. For example, you may decide to focus on breathing deeply throughout the class, or to practice not judging yourself or others. Offering gratitude for the opportunity to use yoga to care for your body is another way to ground your practice. Whatever your intention, call it to mind anytime you need some inspiration or could simply use a reminder of your reason for coming to yoga class.
9. Listen to your body
Let the teacher be your guide, but only you know what your body truly needs. If a pose has become too tiring for you, take a moment to rest in Child’s Pose. If you move into a pose and it doesn’t feel right, move out of it and ask the teacher to offer you an alternative. Remember that most yoga poses have different versions. In the meantime, just remember that yoga shouldn’t hurt. If something makes you feel a sharp pain, don’t do it.
Listen to your body, calm down your ambition and stay in the first variation if that’s where your breath is steady. Do whatever is necessary to take care of your body and listen to any signals it’s giving you throughout the practice.
10. Be patient
It is easy to get frustrated and feel like your practice isn’t progressing as quickly as it should be. Many beginner yogis want to immediately jump into fun and challenging poses. However, it takes time and dedication to build up the strength and balance to perform more advanced postures. Trust that you are exactly where you need to be in your process of learning yoga. Be patient with yourself as you explore new poses and build up both your physical and mental strength. Over time, you’ll begin to see just how much your yoga practice has grown and evolved. You just need to put in the time to get there.
Remember that every beginner yogis have their challenges. If something doesn’t work out, try it later. And while yoga can be intimidating at first, you should be having fun while exploring and learning about the practice.
Make sure to manage your motivation smartly, and don’t listen to anybody but your inner voice. Yoga is a very rewarding and worthwhile practice. It surely is worth your time and effort. And if you want some more tips, check out this page.
Have fun yogis!