Being a yoga teacher today, lots of friends and family members ask me for advice on starting a yoga practice, picking the ‘right’ style of yoga for complete beginners, flexibility requirements, etc. Here are few things I wish I knew as a yoga beginner, before I almost ruled out yoga all-together!
1. Yoga is like music, there is something for everyone!
Think of yoga in music terms, it’s not because you don’t like one particular type of music that you rule out listening to music all together. One of the perks of having so many types of yoga classes/teachers out there is that you can be certain that you will find something you like. So keep on looking until you find the right class, you won't regret it!
2. Fine, I want to try a class, how do I pick one?
The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether you are looking for a dynamic experience or a slower, more gentle one. There is nothing worse than coming with what I call a gym “mindset” (I need to MOVE!) and end up in a slow meditative class. And vice-versa, someone looking for a chilled restorative class would find a dynamic class rather distressing.
If getting fit and breaking a sweat is a must for you, I would recommend anything that says in either the name or the description of the class: dynamic, flow, ashtanga, power, invigorating, fast paced, etc
If you are looking to slow down, focus on alignment or just relax during your yoga class, these might be for you: Hatha, Restorative, Iyengar, Scaravelli, mindful movement, etc
3. Do I have to enrol in a beginner’s course?
Not necessarily. Many teachers are happy to take on complete beginners in their classes. I would recommend contacting the teacher, studio or gym beforehand to double check. If you decide to go to an All Levels class, you need to be ok with the fact that you will feel a bit unsure or even awkward. But the good news is that the only person who notices it or cares is you!
Now enrolling in a beginner’s course is also a good idea! The teacher expects you to know nothing about yoga and goes over all the basics from breath to body alignment. You will slowly build on your knowledge week after week and get lots of guidance along the way. For most people, including people who have done a little bit of yoga before, having what feels like a foundation in yoga helps them feel more confident to practice in a mixed level class. An online beginners programme like the one offered by DoYouYoga or Gaia is another way to do it.
4. Yoga has no size, gender, or flexibility requirements…
Yoga is suitable for both men and women, you do not have to be a particular size and flexibility comes with time. Be patient, practice regularly and you will be surprised by what your body is capable of. For the sake of making the experience fun and lighthearted, I would definitely recommend leaving your ego at the door 🙂
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