how to start your yoga practice in 4 easy steps

How to Start Yoga in 4 Easy Steps

There’s no doubt that you’ve heard the amazing benefits of yoga. Yoga is known to help improve your strength, flexibility, and balance. Studies have also shown numerous mental benefits including helping to manage stress, improve sleep, and boosting your mood. For more information on the benefits of yoga, I have a blog post on that here>>.

If you’re curious about how to start yoga but not sure how, don’t worry, I’ll fill you in on what you need to start right now.

The amazing thing about yoga is that you can start anytime, anywhere with very minimal accessories needed.

1. Gear You Need to Start Yoga

The first thing you’ll need is comfortable clothing. It doesn’t need to be anything special, just clothing that will allow you to have full range of motion.  Pick whatever outfit you’re the most comfortable in. It can be cute and fashionable, or purely functional. Whatever feels right for you.  

Basic Yoga Props to Consider

Props are tools that help you to gain full benefit of yoga poses while in the process of building up strength and flexibility. Don’t worry if you don’t have any yoga props, I will cover substitutions with common household items.  

A Yoga Mat

A yoga mat isn’t a requirement, but is a great thing to have to keep yourself from slipping. Based on the flooring in your space, you can decide whether or not you need a mat to start yoga. They come in a variety of materials including PVC, natural rubber, and cork.

You can choose the thickness of your mat based on your needs. If you are practicing on a wood floor, or need more cushion for your joints, you can find thicker mats that offer more give. The material and surface of mats offer different properties. Cork mats for example provide excellent grip no matter how sweety they may get, while rubber mats are extremely sticky and grippy when dry.

It’s not essential to spend a lot of money on a yoga mat. You can find affordable mats everywhere now, even your local dollar store.

Yoga Blocks

Yoga blocks are used to help with balance and support. Use them in any pose to help bring the floor closer to you. Yoga blocks come in a variety of materials: foam, cork and even wood. You can adjust the height of the blocks depending on which side you place on the floor.

Blocks are great to help with poses like standing forward fold if your hands don’t reach the floor. They can be used to support the pelvis in bridge pose. If you need help with balance you can use them under your hands in Warrior III. You can also place them under your seat in hero pose to relive any strain in your ankle joints.

If you don’t have blocks at home, don’t worry you can always use a stack of books instead.

Yoga Strap

Yoga straps are perfect to help in poses when you need more reach. They allow you to stretch while still keeping your back in the proper position.

Straps are great for seated forward fold to help extend your reach if you can’t naturally reach your toes. You can also use a strap in poses that require you to clasp your hands together when you can’t quite reach your fingers to clasp.

Instead of purchasing a yoga specific strap, you could also use a scarf, tie, belt, or belt from a bathrobe.

For information on how to use a yoga strap, and the options available to you when choosing a yoga strap I have a blog post on that here>>.

I will get into more details on using these basic props, and other options in future blog posts.  

2. Let Go of Your Yoga Expectations

If you’ve been scrolling through Instagram you may have caught a case of yoga intimidation. Know that you don’t need to compare your yoga practice to anyone else’s. You don’t need to be able to do a handstand, or put your ankles behind your head to benefit from yoga.  

Stay in the Moment

Understand that yoga at its core is about finding inner strength, freedom, and peace. Don’t worry about what poses you can’t do, instead celebrate everything you were able to accomplish today. Know that every time you practice, you will leave more accomplished than when you started.    

This is a Judgement Free Zone

Be patient with yourself and understand that yoga is about the journey and the wisdom you gain along the way. The physical practice of yoga serves as a metaphor for life. Sometimes poses are uncomfortable and challenging, but you are able to breathe through it, quiet any negative self-talk, and  prove to yourself that you can do difficult things. 

Stop Shoulding Yourself

In this moment you are exactly where you need to be in your journey. You will develop flexibility, strength and the ability to sit in stillness as you progress. Just stay on the path.  

3. Start Yoga With A Class

Taking a class allows you the benefit to: be able to see the poses in action, the instructor will go over proper alignment, and modifications to help with poses are also covered. There are so many convenient options for beginner yoga classes. You can take a class in person, try a live online class, or a pre-recorded class.

It’s hard to beat an in-person class in terms of quality of instruction. An in-person instructor can quickly and easily make adjustments to your position, and make modifications on the fly according to the needs of the class.

Online classes are a great option because they are so convenient. You also can feel free to take your time. There is no pressure to try to keep up with the rest of the class in this format.

Yoga Comes in Many Flavors

If you’ve tried a yoga class in the past and it didn’t resonate with you, try a different style. There are many different types of yoga, each of them with something different to offer

Restorative yoga is a great place to start. These classes are geared toward relaxation and rejuvenation. I teach a restorative yoga class every Sunday. For info click here.

  • Restorative/ Gentile Yoga: Restorative yoga includes more stretching than strengthening. The flow is slow with poses held for longer. 
  • Ashtanga: Ashtanga yoga has a very specific sequence of poses. This style is more physically demanding and builds a lot of strength. 
  • Bikram/ Hot Yoga: Bikram and Hot Yoga are practiced in a studio with the temperature around 100°F. The temperature helps loosen the muscles. I personally love hot yoga, especially during the cold winter months.
  • Hatha: Hatha yoga emphasizes synchronizing poses with the breath. Beginner classes are often hatha yoga. 
  • Iyengar: Iyengar yoga focuses heavily on correct posture and alignment. 
  • Power Yoga: Power yoga is one of the most physically demanding. The goal of power yoga is to build strength. 
  • Vinyasa: Vinyasa yoga if very smooth and flowing. You transition smoothly from one pose to the next not holding postures for too long. 

These are just a few of the more popular styles of yoga. There are more out there! There’s no doubt that there’s a style out there to fit your needs.  

One on One Yoga

If you feel like you need more support you can always choose to do a one on one private yoga session. With a yoga instructor.

Private yoga sessions allow you to receive a completely personalized yoga practice. Your instructor will craft your practice to work toward your specific goals. The instructor can also take into account any previous injuries, limitations, or health concerns while selecting poses just for you.

Private sessions can also prove to be much less stressful for some. You can schedule a private session based on your schedule, and pick a location for maximum convenience. Private sessions can be scheduled in your home, or office if a studio location doesn’t work for you. For more information on private sessions click here.

4. Just Start Now

There’s no better moment than the present. It can be so easy to come up with reasons to postpone healthy habits. The easiest thing to prevent procrastinating is to just start. Start with whatever you have now.  

Progress Not Perfectionism

Yoga doesn’t need to be perfect. Maybe your kids have toys all over the floor, maybe your sweat pants have holes in them, maybe you’ve had your hair in the same pineapple bun for the last three days. None of this matters. If you’re waiting for the perfect conditions in order to start yoga, that moment may never come. So start now, set aside 20 minutes to start your practice. I upload quick 20 minute pre-recorded practices to my YouTube channel. You can subscribe here.

The most important thing you need in in order to start your practice is an open mind.  Your yoga practice is your own, each of us is only in competition with ourselves.    

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