I started yoga in my 50‘s, it has been 10 years now! Just by accident, I went to the gym for a different class but the schedule had changed and I decided to give it a shot, hoping it would be a beginner yoga class.
I had no idea of any yoga movements other than my stretching classes back in my Ballet days. I found myself trying to follow everybody else, sweating like a pig and feeling too embarrassed to leave the class, I kept going, sort of.
The movements were intense, I didn’t know at the time, but that was a Power Yoga, way too advanced! I should be attending a yoga beginner class.
In this first class, I caught myself very focused… on… not making a fool of myself! And with that, I totally forgot where I was or how I got there. Later I discovered that one of the goals in yoga is to be able to focus completely on your body, not leaving much room for your mind to wander around. In the second part of the class, movements slowed down, I had time to pay attention to how I was moving, what my body could or could not do. The best part was the deep relaxation at the end of class, the well-deserved rest after the strained exercise of not making too much of a fool of myself!
I could not walk for several days after that class but somehow I went back to my journey of getting started on yoga.
Looking back now, although it wasn’t a yoga beginner practice, (the small gym didn’t have any other options) the teacher did offer variations on the poses and was welcoming. He was a tall guy, long hair, the epiphany of the yoga teacher, such a stereotype I had in my mind at that time. I was so wrong, I laugh thinking of this now! His social skills were just not there but the practice was consistent and his passion for yoga, contagious! From there I joined a Yoga studio and the experience was totally different and gratifying. I started on a yoga beginners practice and soon felt totally comfortable. I had several interruptions over these 10 years, I got an old tear in the meniscus that ended up needing to be repaired through surgery. With physiotherapy and slow yoga classes I am recovered and full speed in Hot Yoga classes now! Since then it has been one of the best journeys in my life towards a healthier lifestyle but I do get that is not easy to get started.
1-Get The Basics Get the basics, it always helps to have your own mat, a pretty towel, a nice bottle of water, and a cute pair of flip-flops. Get your yoga attire, the prettier, the more motivated you will be. Most studios have all the props used in the class but you can have your own blocks, boulders, and straps if you want. By buying all this equipment you will feel sort of obligated to keep going since you already spent all that money, which is not a bad thing! 2- Find a Good Yoga Studio When it comes to Yoga, you should not go cheap to find a studio. Yoga is not cheap. The Yoga education that the instructors go through is very expensive. You pay for what you get. It might be that the gym across the street offers yoga included in their packages. Be careful before joining. Along with the practice, preferably you need the ambiance, cork floors, silence, spa smells, warm light. It is not nice to go for a yoga class banging into sweaty muscular guys, all lights on, noisy music all over, and the loud bang of heavyweights on the floor.
You have decided to start, go ahead and splurge on yourself! Just walking in a yoga studio makes you feel like a million bucks!
It is one of the best investments you can make in your life. You can buy a small package of classes to start off but if you are sure you want to give a serious shot, buying a longer package will more likely make you stick around.
3-Don’t rush to start
Start slow, with the beginner’s classes, don’t rush into anything. Yoga is a flow of movements that have to start with a solid basis. You have to understand the positions and get to know your body, explore its capabilities and accept your limits.
It is your practice and nobody will have one like yours.
The instructors tell us this all the time. It is so refreshing to hear it! They also keep reassuring us that we should feel comfortable with our own bodies. A good idea is to do a few classes at home using an online yoga classes program before your first one in the yoga studio.
4– Arrive early for your Yoga practice
Allow some time to get to your class. It is always a good idea to get there 15 minutes before the practice. Find your spot, settle in, get your props, calm down and relax. I learned this lesson the hard way in my very first class in a studio. I allowed 5 minutes and wasn’t enough. Because I sweat so much I need to lay a towel on top of the mat, just getting everything ready took longer than this.
5- The MOST important focus is breathing
Focus on breathing, it sounds funny and out of place when you start but it is the most important exercise, which will rule your practice forever. Even if you are not doing much in terms of poses and movements, do your breathing first, focus on it. The flow will come, faster than you expect.
6- Resist the urge to compare yourself with other people
Never compare yourself to anybody else in the class. Actually because most of the time you keep your eyes closed you will not be paying attention to whoever is around. Don’t ever feel obligated to do more because your neighbor is doing it. The non-judgmental environment of Yoga practice is a big part of what makes all students welcome, Yoga instructors emphasize it all the time.
It is your practice, your body.
7- Take as many breaks as you need
If it gets too tiring and you need a break, do take a break, no matter what. Go to your child pose, breath for a while until you feel better to follow the class.
The teachers encourage taking breaks as you need it and nobody will ever judge or criticize you. One of the many beauties in yoga is the total and genuine lack of judgment.
Everyone is well-respected, no matter what, just for the simple fact of being there.
8- Ask questions
Yoga instructors are always opened to questions after the class, especially for a Yoga beginners class.
9- Don’t be ashamed if you need a bathroom break
If you need to go to the bathroom during the practice, do so. Leave quietly and come back feeling better. There are lots of poses that lead to internal movements and is natural if that happens.
Your internal organs will be moving too, no other physical activity offers this potential.
10- Drink your water
Stop any time during the practice to drink water. The practice creates lots of internal heat even in simple poses. Later on in your practice, you will note that you will not need it as much.
11- Educate yourself
Do some reading about the different types of Yoga: Restorative yoga, Tune-up yoga, Yin Yoga, Meditation yoga, Healing with yoga, Hot Yoga and Tune-up Yoga. Yoga is a lifestyle and as such, it is ongoing learning.
Here you can find information about Easy and Safe Poses for Yoga Beginners
Do a search for a yoga studio near you and you will find many different types of classes, such as senior yoga, kids yoga, mom and toddler classes, etc, so much available!
12- Don’t feel uncomfortable if you don’t feel good about chanting of Om
Yoga is a physical and spiritual practice, originated in Ancient India and many instructors add some spiritual exercises to their practices. The chanting of Om at the beginning or at the end of class is very common. You might feel not too comfortable in your first class but soon you will be used to it and will decide to join the chanting or not. More information here.
I understand why some people think that it “takes guts” to get started. Yoga now is so fashionable and celebrated, that you might feel the community is not too welcoming to newcomers. Nothing is further than the truth.
Yoga is not in any way closed in towards a certain group. Yoga teachers are always including everybody, offering variations on all poses and very generous in sharing what they know. It is a non-stop learning experience, slow in many ways, the same way that happens with other strong foundations we get in life.
It is a journey to becoming a fuller person with a stronger body and mind. It is not in any way meant for people who just want exercise as a way to lose weight or build a perfect body. These things will eventually happen, as a consequence, down the line, not as the initial goal. Every yoga pose engages your full body, slowly you will feel your muscles getting tighter, your joints will become more open, your posture firm and erect. losing weight comes fast, naturally, in a healthy way.
The sense of owning your own body because it works better, it moves with harmony is priceless!
You also might be interested in Yoga for people who sit all day.