Yoga has so many amazing benefits for practitioners of all levels — it's great that you're giving it a try!
Here are some of my tips, in no particular order, that you might find useful as you embark upon this journey. I originally put these together as a response to a query on Reddit, but figured others might be looking for the same info....
And if this post is too long for ya to read right now, check out the TL;DR highlight video. You can come back to this post for more detail later. When you have time. Oy, life! 😉
Preface, aka What This is Not
This is not a regurgitation of the usual tips you repeatedly find ev-er-y-where. These are things I never heard as a beginning yogi or that I don't think I've seen mentioned "around" too much.
8 Tips for Yoga Newbs
Always listen to your body. Some days you'll be able to do more/less/differently than other days. That's normal and totally ok. You are not in competition with anyone and you owe no one anything, so there's no "standard" to meet.
When doing yoga, you should never feel pain. You may feel intensity, discomfort, challenge, stretching, sensation, etc. But you should back off if you start to feel actual, legit pain. It means you're not doing something that's good for your bod.
Practice yoga with an intention of injury prevention. By this, I mean choose the right poses/modifications/sequencing/props/etc for your level and how you're feeling on a given day. As a beginner, perhaps (for example) it wouldn't make sense to go from 0 to Handstand Scorpion. You want to stay safe and nurture your body.
Expect progression and setbacks (and plateaus). This happens to all of us! Yoga is an adventure with lots of zigs and zags but a ton of discovery and fun along the way!
Try a variety of instructors and styles of yoga. Each offers something different. Different ones strike a different chord with different people. Plus, if you find a few that really excite you, having a variety will keep it interesting and challenging. Plus, some days maybe you're keyed up and want a relaxing restorative class when other days you need an energy injection and a vinyasa class would be a better fit.
Get appropriate equipment. Get a mat that's "sticky" so you don't slip. Get a nice cotton strap (I like the kind with loops in them — makes it easier to grip.). Consider getting some foam blocks. A blanket and/or some bolsters or throw pillows might also serve you well. And FYI—the right stock of high-quality equipment doesn't need to cost a fortune; you can get good stuff at every price point.
Bear in mind that Yoga (with a big Y) is more than just "physical exercise". For some it's also a spiritual thing and so much more. Regardless, my point here is that there's a definite mental/emotional/psychological component available. This is largely what sets yoga apart (and above, IMHO!) many other things. To get the most of the physical side of yoga, consider embracing that mindset piece, too. I don't mean this in any woowoo way. I'm just saying that the physical practice of yoga is so much better ( e.g., effective/relaxing/enjoyable) if you're "present" on your mat, centered, undistracted, fully experiencing the experience.
Talk to your instructor before class, if possible. For live classes, the teacher should greet you and check in to see how you're feeling and if you have any body issues to consider. Perhaps you even submitted an intake form. Letting the instructor know you're new to yoga (and if you have any injuries, etc.) enables him or her to more effectively and safely guide you through your practice. He or she can offer modifications, specific-to-you cues and so on tailored to your sitch.
Hope that helps. Feel free to reach out to me directly with more questions.
What are your words of wisdom for those just starting out? What would you have wished someone told you when you began practicing yoga? Share your tips and advice on yoga basics in the Comments section below. Thanks!
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