Want to start doing yoga but don’t know where to begin? Feel nervous or intimidated by the idea of going to a class?
You are not alone.
And hence: The essential guide to yoga for beginners.
Yoga is one of those rare practises that’s accessible to everyone, regardless of your age and fitness level. And it’s not just an exercise (though you would be SERIOUSLY surprised at its cardio and muscle toning powers!) but an entire discipline that helps your mind, body and soul.
After all, there has to be a reason every celebrity from Lady Gaga and Reese Witherspoon to Beyoncé and Victoria Beckham swear by this discipline!
However, the first time I stepped into a yoga studio, it was immediately apparent (much to my horror) that it’s quite different from simply strolling into a gym, water bottle and towel in hand.
That’s because it requires a certain amount of prep-work even before you step into the class. Which is why I have put together this essential guide to yoga for beginners, with tips from yoga experts that will ensure you gets the best out of every session — starting from the first one you ever attend (whether virtual or IRL)!
1. Don’t eat right before class: Refrain from eating at least two hours prior and 30 minutes after your practice.
2. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during and after class. Better yet, drink plenty of warm water with fresh squeezed lemon juice, which is a terrific detoxifier!
3. Dress correctly: Wear whatever feels comfortable, preferably in soft cotton and lycra-spandex blends. That said, big baggy clothing does a disservice because you can’t see what’s going on with the body. Fitted clothes, with the ankles showing, let the teachers see your true alignment and make it easier for them to help you with adjustments. Also avoid pockets, zippers, buckles or buttons on the back or abdomen.
4. Do not wear shoes: One of the main tips about yoga for beginners? Skip the footwear. You could opt for yoga socks that help prevent slipping, but practicing barefoot is highly encouraged.
5. Bring water, a hand towel and a mat: While you can rent or borrow them at most studios, it’s more hygienic to have your own. Your mat = your germs. Simple!
6. Bring a large towel: Sweat + yoga mats = slip and slide. Draping a large towel over your mat will help you gain traction in poses like downward dog.
7. Avoid “noise”: Go easy on perfumes and don’t be loud or chatty. The yoga space is intended to be a sanctuary where one may go to decompress from the day and as such it’s best to keep it in a neutral, relaxed state.
8. Be on time: You don’t want to miss the warm-up. This is not just a matter of respect but also of safety.
9. Practice common sense: Another tip from the yoga for beginners handbook that you NEED to keep in mind is to know your limits and listen to your body. Start slowly and learn the basics (like proper breathing) rather than simply seeing how far you can stretch. If you have any medical conditions or injuries, talk to your doctor — poses can be modified once the instructor knows your problem areas. And always remember — pain is NOT good. Don’t push into it, don’t hold your breath. Just get out of the pose.
10. Accept your feelings: It’s normal (and healthy) to sometimes feel emotionally upset during or after a yoga session… releasing tension in the body releases emotions as well.
Finally, don’t give up too quickly. There are many styles of yoga, not to mention different studios and instructors you might prefer if one doesn’t work out!