Have you thought about yoga but always believed it wasn’t for you? Maybe you always wanted to try but could never find the right teacher to support your practice. Whatever your reason, flowing through the beginning stages of yoga is an empowering experience.
Yoga teaches patient, growth, and acceptance in one incredibly humble practice. As a beginner, you’ll learn to accept and then stretch the limits of what your body can do. You’ll also learn how to leave the world behind and create a mind-body connection that others can test but not break.
If you're new to yoga, you likely have questions, but may not have time or space to ask. We put together a guide of yoga for beginners’ tips to help guide you through the first days, weeks, and months of your practice. Some offer explanations to new yogis’ most burning questions, and others provide insight into questions you don’t even know you have yet.
Keep reading for seven yoga for beginners’ tips, and don’t forget to take the time to thank yourself for doing so.
Utilize Your Breath First
A quick scroll through the yogi-centric side of Instagram will leave you aghast. How can people assume such incredible positions and hold them long enough to snap the perfect photo?
Unlocking yoga isn’t a matter of flexibility or sheer athleticism. Everything comes back to your breath. Your breath is the most important tool you have in yoga, but for many, breathing is further away than touching your toes. We all breathe, but we do it unintentionally. Yoga asks you to practice breathing and to find yourself at home in your breathing practice.
Yogi breathing initiates the mind-body connection you desire. It calms both your body and your brain and forces you to let go completely. As you exhale, the body softens and prepares itself for whatever may come next. Your breath helps you find easiness to make beginner and advanced positions available to you.
How To Approach Breathing?
Your pranayama practice is how you control your breathing. It requires as much — if not more — attention than the poses themselves. Pranayama can transform into something far more complicated, but you’ll start with simpler postures and breaths. Lion’s breath is a playful activity that also serves as good breathing practice. A lion’s breath requires that you inhale deeply through your mouth. You then tilt your head back slightly and exhale audibly through an open mouth with your tongue sticking out.
Three part breathing is another introductory breathing practice that you’ll use today and in advanced practice. It is also an excellent tool for anxiety and stress. To do it, you’ll place one hand on your belly and one on your heart. You breathe into your chest and puff up your belly. You then exhale from your belly and out through your abdomen and chest.
Allow Yourself To Play
As adults, our peers and ourselves tell us not to play. Playing is immature; it is for children. But just as children benefit from playing to learn, so too can adults. Yoga is as playful and as serious as you’d like. While yogis of all levels bring playfulness into their practice, you will find it particularly helpful in the earliest stages of your journey.
Playing gives you space to explore what’s possible. You begin to see how far you can stretch, bend, and twist. A child-like attitude allows us to explore today’s limits without feeling discouraged, embarrassed, or inadequate. It opens up yoga not as a form of exercise but as a lifelong experiment.
Don’t Compete With The Person On The Next Mat
Yoga isn’t competitive, and as a beginner, you need to leave any competition you feel at the door before coming onto your mat. Competitiveness brings out your inner critic. “Why can’t I look as graceful as he does?” “How is it that I do not have her strength?”
As a beginner, these criticisms are neither helpful nor valid. You cannot compare and complete with those who dedicated months, years, or even decades to their practice. More importantly, they use their time to work on themselves and their practice; you spend your times on your own. From the moment you step on the mat, what your neighbors doesn’t matter because none of you have the same practice.
As you advance, you may feel competitive with yourself. You will explore your strengths and weaknesses and likely want to improve on those things that you find require more practice.
If you take away any single piece of advice, let it be this: No matter how long you practice, there will always be a pose you cannot do yet. Remember, yoga is as much about the mind-body connection as it is about flexibility and strength. Worrying about what the person next to you does breaks that connection. Cultivate a quiet attitude toward yoga, and you’ll learn to satisfy your cravings for growth in every single class.
Listen To Your Body
As you learn to foster your mind-body connection, remember to listen to your body as it tries to speak to you. Yoga helps people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities find health and strength, but realizing these as a steady state requires gentleness.
What does your body say as you move? If it enjoys as a pose, then you might dig deeper to find more advanced postures. When it asks you to pull back, listen and retreat to a place where your body is happy. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or a long-term yogi, use your mindfulness to accept your limitations and adjust accordingly. Ask your teacher to provide modifications that protect your body and your intentions. Grow closer to the sensation you feel, and if you are unsure, ask for help in finding your way. Finally, be wary of injuries and medical conditions. You need to forgive them because they are unforgiving.
Choosing A Beginner-Friendly Practice
Kunda-what yoga? Yoga isn’t one thing but many different paths and practices. If you find you have limited exposure, try out a vinyasa flow class.
Vinyasa flow is almost like an introductory yoga class. The class offers new yogis a chance to explore the fundamental principles and postures of yoga. A vinyasa flow encourages and appreciates modifications for both new and intermediate practitioners. Each student may practice the same pose in different ways, but you’ll all still flow together. We like vinyasa flow for beginners because it offers a taste of flow, sun salutations, standing postures, and relaxation. It leaves behind extensive strength-based work and marries cardio, stretching, and light strength poses.
Hydrate Before And After Class
Hydration helps your body function at its optimum level. Being hydrated will also help your attempts at mindfulness and focus. Even slight dehydration impacts our ability to think carefully when completing other tasks. The same is true in yoga.
Drink a glass of water an hour or two before practice to give your body water to sweat out. But remember to stay hydrated generally. Your mind and body will thank you.
Ask For Help
Your teacher is your guide, but their work extends beyond talking you through the day’s practice. They also provide individual help when you need it. Sometimes, they’ll spot you across the room and glide over to help you adjust. However, they can’t be everywhere at once and everywhere includes inside your head. If you don’t know where to go or what to do, raise your hand.
Yoga doesn’t only allow modifications. It embraces change. Remember, your practice needs to fit you and no one else, and sometimes you’ll need help to find your way there.
Familiarize Yourself With Some Foundational Poses
Yoga poses seem infinite, but beginners find that ten poses serve as a foundation for most of the postures they practice in their first few months or years of yoga.
These poses include:
You’ll become familiar with these poses over time but familiarizing yourself now also allows you to practice them correctly from the beginning. When you build a solid foundation, you empower yourself and progress through your practice faster.
Use These Tips To Make Your Yoga Practice Your Own
Yoga is formulaic in its own way. Poses require specific movements at certain points. Advanced poses demand the right timing. Physics and gravity play a dominating role. At the same time, there is no wrong way to do yoga. Every practice can and should be as unique as you are.
These seven yoga for beginners’ tips help you set the foundations for a strong and intentional practice. By developing a good breathing practice and a mindset that suits you, you’ll find yourself taking up space in new ways and reaping all the benefits yoga has to offer. Do you have tips to offer other new yogis? Share them in the comments below.