8 Ways to Start a Yoga Practice

Want to start a yoga practice but don't know where to start? Check out this beginner's guide on how and where to start your yoga practice. happyfitmama.com

I’d love to be a yogi, but I don’t have time.

I’d love to be a yogi, but it’s boring.

I’d love to be a yogi, but I can’t sit still.

I’d love to be a yogi, but I’m not flexible enough.

I posted about how to bring yoga to running a couple of weeks ago and got quite a few emails wanting tips on how to get started in yoga.

I stared practicing yoga at home about 8 years ago. At first, I followed along with DVD’s. It helped me learn the lingo before I eventually went to my gym’s classes (I had a gym membership back then). I loved the classes there. I got the physical benefits of yoga. That’s about it. There was no mind/body connection. But I really fell hard for yoga when I went to an actual yoga studio. The classes were way different. We chanted. The teacher came around and did adjustments throughout class. We did breathing exercises. I learned the ‘why’ rather than just doing a pose. There was a the constant reminder to link breath to movement. Rather than just a physical practice, I felt like I was getting the whole yoga package. From then on, I was hooked!

If you are looking for a way to love yoga, here are 8 tips on how to start a yoga practice. And hopefully, loving it.

1. Take a class in a studio.

If you are just starting out, I highly recommend going to a class at a studio if you can. There’s nothing like being in class and being able to see real people perform the different poses. Also, a good yoga teacher will ensure that you have proper alignment and help you understand where to focus on in each pose so you can fully reap the benefits.

Some instructors will ask at the beginning of class if you are new to his or her class and if you are new to yoga. If you do not want to announce this to the whole class, you can also introduce yourself to the instructor before class starts. That way, they can help you modify poses as needed.

#7daystretch prAna #sweatpink | happyfitmama.com

2. Practice at home

If you’ve never done yoga before and want to get the lingo down before you head to a studio, start your practice at home. Or even if your schedule doesn’t allow for you to go to class or you don’t have a lot of time to practice, there are tons of online or DVD resources. Great sources for online yoga videos include Yogaglo, Gaia and YogaDownload.com. Rodney Yee DVDs are fantastic for beginner yoga.

3. Start slow.

Don’t think you need to do a full practice every single day. Just like any new exercise addition, start once a week and see how it goes. I’d love to do a full practice every day but what works with my schedule right now is 2-3 days in the studio and 10-15 minutes on the other days at home.

Reverse Warrior | happyfitmama.com

3. Try different styles.

There are countless styles of yoga and variations. Bikram, Ashtanga, Hatha, Kundalini, Power Yoga, Chair yoga, Yoga for Women with Curves, Yoga for Runners, Aerial Yoga. The list goes on and on. If one style doesn’t suit you, try another. I can almost guarantee there is one out there for you!

4. Don’t compare yourself to others.

As with life in general, be you. Just because the person next to you is in headstand, don’t think you need to be. Know your limits. Also, don’t think everyone is watching you. Trust me, most people are concentrating on themselves. I rarely even notice the person on the mat next to me until after Savasana. It’s taken some time for me to get to that point, but you will with time.

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5.Props are your friend!

Since I’m hypermobile, I can put my palms flat on the floor with no problem. I never thought I needed a prop. But one of my teachers loves to use blocks and showed me that props are for everyone no matter how flexible you are. Yoga props, such as blocks or straps, can help you safely execute a pose that you otherwise might not be able to. Props can also help you learn to engage the correct muscles and learn the appropriate alignment.

6. Enjoy the silence.

You go to yoga and the silence is so deafening you can’t help but start to fidget. Your mind is racing thinking of everything and anything all at the same time. Your internal voice is screaming – “I didn’t pay good money to sit here. I want to sweat!” I felt the exact same way when I started yoga. And I still prefer the quicker paced Vinyasa style yoga. But even a few minutes at the beginning and end of class to disconnect from all the chatter of daily life, will be something you’ll look forward to. Trust me, you need it.

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7. Breathe.

Yoga isn’t just about the physical poses. Ultimately, it’s about connecting your mind, body and breath. How often do you take deep breathes throughout your day? This is your time to do that. And then it will become a part of your daily living off the mat.

8. Don’t take it too seriously.

Yoga isn’t all straight faces and no emotions. If you fall over in a balancing posture, no big deal! Relax, smile, laugh.

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What is standing in your way if you don’t do yoga?

If you do yoga, how did you get started?

19 comments on “8 Ways to Start a Yoga Practice

  1. I had such a great practice years ago, with one of the best instructors. Everything about it was good for me and it balanced my intense running with intense inner gazing and stretching! Now? I can barely fit in all the running, biking and swimming I have going on. I DO have about 9 sessions of a 10 session pass I purchased in Nov, thinking on my Dec “break” I would go regularly. Nope. I’m just not feeling the pull of yoga these days but, the great thing is I know it’s always there!
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  2. YES to all of this!!! You know I love this post and it’s so true – it can be intimidating to walk into a yoga studio or to think about starting a practice. And it’s OK if you don’t love you’re first class. There are so many different kind of yoga and different teachers and sometimes it just takes some shopping around 🙂
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  3. I love number 8! I taught some yoga-ish classes along with teaching Pilates in college, and that was something I tried to reinforce with my students: just have fun and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. I’ve slacked in my own yoga lately with no real excuse other than laziness, although at least I’ve been good about Pilates, which counts for something I hope!
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  4. LOVE THIS! I am still a yoga newbie but I love going to classes! I made it my mission last January to try out every studio in Anchorage, and I got to almost all of them. I loved getting to see how different studios did yoga and learned a lot about what styles I like most! I’m now paying a ton for a gym membership, so I do most of my yoga there. I do have to say that I love a few of my teachers – and some of them are even instructors at local yoga studios, so it’s like I’m getting a “real studio” yoga class even though I’m just at the gym! I also love doing Yoga With Adrienne’s free videos on YouTube at home. She’s the best!
    Kristen recently posted..January Recap and February GoalsMy Profile

  5. You always have the most beautiful yoga photos. Even the funny one. 🙂

    Going to a studio makes such a huge difference! I learned so much from my yoga teachers. These days, though, I mostly use yoga download and practice to the audios at home. And Rodney Yee videos were my favorites when I was just starting out.

    Great tips for getting started.
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  6. So we don’t have the extra cash for a studio right now since I quit my gym so I slacked off big time. I got to go to a studio this past week which was awesome, but man, I had lost all flexibility. I have a hard time relaxing and letting go enough at home and don’t find it as beneficial unfortunately. I think I might do it more at home if I knew some good websites. Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll check them out!

  7. Thanks for sharing all of your knowledge and experience. The last few months I’ve been doing workouts through P90X3 and now 21 Day Fix and each of these has a weekly yoga routine. I really look forward to that weekly session so I’ve been thinking of getting a little more into it. This post is a great starting point 🙂
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  8. I started yoga when I was pregnant with my 2nd baby. Now I do yoga with my kids and restorative yoga (both in studio). They are so TOTALLY different from each other, but they both fulfill me in different ways!

  9. I didn’t know there were different styles of yoga before. I wonder which one I used to do before I quit? Yoga was fun, and something I need to get back into and actually try and keep up with.

  10. Working with beginners is a great way to improve your teaching skills. Through your commitment to looking closely at your students, offering specific instruction and asking for feedback and questions, you will fine-tune your skills around teaching as well. This is one of the many instances where the line between teacher and student is very blurred; the student is the teacher and as always, the teacher is also the student!

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