When it’s time to do yoga, some of us would prefer to say, “Namaste in bed all day.” But if you are looking into beginning a yoga practice, or even if you just want to try out a class, these yoga 101 tips are great for beginners. Yoga is actually much more than just stretching and holding poses; it features a rich history as well as the option to pursue a deeply spiritual practice—and to turn up at hip hop yoga with a great playlist!
Yoga began all the way back in ancient India, and there is a wide variety of schools of thought, each with their own different practices and goals. The most common forms that people practice in the United States are hatha yoga and yoga as exercise. No matter what type of yoga you eventually may like, put on your yoga pants, find a water bottle and grab your mat, and let’s dig in to yoga 101!
Almost no other athletic activity offers as many different styles of practicing it as yoga does. In addition to the classic hatha (holding postures) and Vinyasa (flow yoga) styles, you can also find classes where you can be more athletic with jumping lots of movement, or classes where you can simply lay down most of the time. (They call it “restorative” but sometimes we end up taking a little nap—oops.)
Just as there are tons of different styles of yoga, it is also an activity that can accommodate any body type. No matter their size or ability, anyone who practices can enjoy its meditative and physical benefits. Plenty of modifications exist if you’re unable to contort your body into a pretzel (or even if you can’t get down on the ground). For people who may not be able to move around easily, chair yoga is a great option. Moms can even bring their kids to special Mommy and Me yoga classes.
Explore the different types of yoga as you’re getting started to find one that you like best. We’ve seen everything from athletic cross-training yoga to goat yoga where baby goats walk around as you hold the poses—sign us up! Whether you’re looking for an intense bout of exercise to get your heart rate up or a workout that’s more like the “chill” to go with your Netflix, you’re sure to find a type of yoga that works for you.
As you begin your yoga practice, it’s a really good idea to visit an in-person beginner’s workshop to really nail the basics. The instructor can help you get into position, and they can walk you through all the major poses. Form in yoga, as with running or lifting weights, is important. An in-person class can help you get immediate feedback and help prevent injuries.
Thanks to the trusty internet, you don’t need to sign up for a special yoga studio to enjoy a sufficient yoga class. Many yoga instructors have their own free YouTube channels, so you can practice in the privacy of your own home. We love Yoga with Adriene and Dianne Bondy Yoga. Websites like Yoga Journal also offer lots of videos on yoga as well as meditation.
While yoga’s first principle philosophy is ahimsa, or non-harming to self and others, interpretation of this philosophy is up for debate. Some believe it means not eating animal products. But we believe your yoga practice should be personal and unique, just like the style of yoga you choose to practice.
In order to do yoga, all you need to have is a mind and a body. There’s no need to buy luxe yoga apparel or $100 mats. You can purchase a moderately priced yoga mat anywhere fitness equipment is sold. If you go to a yoga class, you can usually borrow a mat and other props for free, and if you’re following along with a video at home, you can just do it on a towel or the carpet. We try to wear clothes that aren’t too loose to avoid stumbling over pants or shirts.
From your first attempt to your 50th, make sure you keep your attention on yourself while you are learning and practicing yoga. Especially if you’re in a yoga class, it’s easy for our minds to drift towards comparing ourselves to other people or trying to keep up with them. But yoga is an individual practice, and it’s important to focus inward. Stay in touch with your mind and body, and give yourself a break in child’s pose or Shavasana (laying on your back) when you need to.
Once you give yoga a try, you will probably want to enjoy some nourishing smoothies or food to complement your practice. Try our Apple Cider Vinegar & Turmeric Tea for a warm and spicy beverage, or check out One-Pan Roasted Salmon Supper to finish off your evening.