1. Find a Great Yoga Instructor
The practice of yoga is very subtle, yet specific, so it’s very important when getting started to understand how to perform the basics correctly. Empowering yourself with the knowledge of how to breathe and general instruction on the best ways to position yourself and transition through poses, will help you get the most out of your practice. If you do not have access to an in-person teacher, there are many online tutorials that can walk you through the basics for beginners.
2. Respect Your Limitations and Be Kind to Your Body
In yoga, it is widely accepted that if something is painful, you should not continue to do it. It is likely that either you are not executing a position correctly, or perhaps you have a previous injury or issue that is causing pain, and you should not continue in a given pose. Experiencing pain is different than being a bit uncomfortable. Sometimes, a deep stretch may feel slightly uncomfortable at first, but you will find with the help of deep breathing and relaxation, you can work into it comfortably. Whatever sensations you feel, be gentle with yourself and do not push beyond your limitations – especially as you first begin to learn. Remember, yoga is meant to heal, not harm.
3. Be Open & Have Fun
While a yoga class full of people may appear serious and somber, it is also a place to smile, open your heart and share a loving energy with those around you. Even if you are practicing alone at home, make sure to be open to feelings of joy, elation, and have fun with all the parts of learning, including those moments when you clumsily fall out of a pose or feel you are inelegantly imitating a rubber band. Acceptance of yourself and all emotions are an essential part of a great yoga practice.
4. Experiment with Various Types of Yoga
While there are many types of yoga, many people find that they prefer certain disciplines over others depending on what they hope to get out of their practice. For example, some prefer more physically demanding classes, whereas others enjoy more spiritual, meditative classes. Whether it is transitioning between a few or focusing on one type – exploring the various options are one of the most fun parts of starting yoga for the first time. Here is a list of the 11 most well-known types of yoga:
5. Relax & Breathe
Focusing on your breath and breathing correctly when holding and releasing poses is an essential component of yoga practiced correctly. This goes hand in hand with relaxing in the flow of postures and letting your body guide you in what it needs. It is always acceptable to take a break, relax and breathe, when a break is needed.
6. Use Posture Modifications
When working with a knowledgeable instructor or an online class, you should be provided various posture modifications you can use when particular poses are painful or too difficult for your ability or body. Often you will find it may be a single issue that you have to cater to, such as if you have a shoulder issue from a previous injury, or are sensitive to knee or ankle pain, etc. If this is the case, always be willing to speak up and ask for modifications if they are not provided to you. You can also simply skip any pose you find is not one you wish to take part in – simply transition to an alternate pose or rest.
7. Gear Up, When You’re Ready
Breathable, flexible clothing is the most important aspect of what “gear” you bring to yoga – first and foremost. You do not want what you wear to inhibit your ability to move freely. Beyond that, once you find the type of yoga or poses you prefer, you may find that a yoga block, bolster, or straps help you in doing poses in the most effective way possible. Ideally you can try these items out at a local studio during class to explore how they work and how best to use them. A quality yoga mat and a blanket used for ‘shavasana’ at the end of class are always great investments as well.