As a yoga teacher, the most common question I get asked is how to start a yoga practice. Often students are concerned that they are not flexible enough, that they won’t be “good” enough or that they don’t have a “yoga body”.
But the truth is you don’t need any of these things to practice and enjoy yoga, you just need an open mind and a willingness to learn something new.
Here are my 4 tips for Starting Yoga:
Start with a Beginner’s Mind
Don’t beat yourself up because you don’t know much (or anything) about yoga, neither did anyone else when they started! Often you’ll hear terms you don’t understand and you’ll end up in poses you didn’t know possible – accept it all! If you notice your mind criticising yourself because you are unsure what you are doing, let it go – and enjoy learning something new.
And please remember, you don’t need to be flexible to do yoga – flexibility is one of the key benefits but don’t get frustrated if you can’t touch your toes or need to bend your knees very deeply in a forward fold. A renowned yogi once said “practice and all is coming”, you wouldn’t expect to run a sub 4 hour marathon with no training – the same applies to your yoga.
Try an Online Class to Ease You In
If you’re feeling self-conscious about getting started (and although you really don’t need too, I understand you may because I did), try an online yoga class. There are lots of great options on Youtube, and I particularly like Movement for Modern Life which has a two-week free trial so you can see if you like it before committing to paying for it.
I love practicing yoga at home because it means I can wear my pyjamas (any excuse!); you might want to buy a yoga mat if you’re going to practice regularly at home and can pick these up in places like Decathlon for less than £10. Don’t worry about buying one for the first time you try, a towel on the carpet will work just fine!
Head to a Beginner’s Class at your Local studio or Gym
A great place to start is at a beginner’s class or a few weeks beginner’s course. These classes are specially designed to introduce you to yoga as a complete beginner. They will break down the yoga postures, the breathing and everything you need to know so that you can go into a general class and feel totally comfortable.
Almost all yoga studios will offer a weekly beginners class or course, and I know locally to me the Bannatynes Gym runs them every Thursday. Give it a Google and you’ll find a class that will suit!
Work with the body you have today
This is the one thing I can’t stress enough; please work with the body you have today! Often, we start yoga – and any work-out routine in general … – because we want to change something about ourselves, but accepting the body you have to work with today really is the key to being happy in your own skin (and long-lasting body transformation if that is what you are after).
I may occasionally resemble a parrot in my classes as I use “work with the body you have today” so much, but it is for good reason. Don’t work with the body you think you’ll have in a year, or even the one you had last week. Our bodies change every day depending on how we move them (and how we are feeling) – so pay attention to how you feel and move your body in yoga accordingly.
So there you have it, my top four tips on how to start a yoga practice. If this encourages you to start a yoga practice (or even re-start) I’d love to hear how you get on!