Yoga for beginners – a mini-guide

There are a lot of people out there looking to take up yoga and everyone has to start somewhere. The good news is that yoga classes are very welcoming and friendly environments for beginners – generally most people want to help, not hinder. Second piece of good news, there isn’t much you need to do or buy to get started.  There are a few things though that are helpful to know beforehand, so you are clued up and begin learning yoga on the right foot, so to speak.

Yoga for beginners – where to start

When not to start practicing yoga

First of all, before talking about what, when and how to get started with a beginners yoga practice, it is useful to know when NOT to do yoga.

If you have high blood pressure, a neck, shoulder or knee injury, or are pregnant, it is important to speak to a healthcare professional prior to taking up yoga for beginners. There is a high possibility that you will still be able to practice yoga, however, certain poses may need to be avoided, so precautions need to be taken in advance by finding out about details unique to your personal situation.

Assuming you are fit and healthy though, full steam ahead!

Yoga classes for beginners – choosing the right one for you

Some people choose to practice yoga for beginners at home, using a DVD or online videos.

However, opting for a beginners yoga class can certainly help get your head around the basics, which is the foundation for good yoga practice. A professional yoga teacher will be able to tell you what you are doing right and wrong and accelerate your learning.

Of course, there are situations that don’t allow for yoga class attendance or, you may just prefer to get started from the comfort of your own living room floor. One of the best things about yoga is it is accessible to practice from anywhere; a studio, at home, in the park, on holiday – your schedule really is your own.

If you choose to join a yoga class, many studios in London offer specific yoga classes for beginners. Try to enrol in a beginners class, if one is available, although if not, just tell the instructor you are new to yoga and they will more than likely give you some special care and attention.

One step at a time – start slow and build up

Whether in a class with others, or at home alone, it is important to remember for beginners yoga, start slow and build up, whilst always listening to your body.

Especially in a class, it can be easy to try to compete with your neighbour on the mat next to you, but continually refresh your memory that yoga is a very personal practice, and you are only ever trying to do your best, in comparison to your own capabilities.

Choose simple poses to start with and practice them over again until they come naturally. Remember yoga takes practice so don’t get disheartened if you don’t get the poses first time, modify them to suit your level. Balancing poses can be particularly frustrating!

Within a class environment the teacher should see if poses are too difficult for your level as a yoga beginner, although ultimately it is down to you to also know your limits.

Yoga poses for beginners

Especially if you are practicing yoga at home, and you are a beginner, choose poses that look like they will be achievable – this will keep you motivated as there is no point in trying a “half frog” before you have mastered your “downward dog”.

It may help to choose poses that are floor-based rather than standing as they require less balance and strength whilst you are still introducing your muscles to the world of yoga!

A beginners yoga class will focus on getting you familiar with the basics and building a solid foundation before  progressing to more complex poses.

Read more – Yoga poses for beginners

Increase the intensity

When you want to take things up a notch, there are four ways your can increase the intensity of your yoga practice.

  1. Hold poses for longer time periods
  2. Increase the duration of your practice
  3. Slowly add more complex poses to your routine
  4. Move more quickly between poses, increasing your heart rate

Many yoga beginners choose to do a combination, gradually, moving from novice to intermediate.

Beginners yoga – how long to practice yoga for

The duration of a yoga class is usually 1 hour or 90 minutes, depending on the type of yoga and the studio. If practicing on your own, there are clearly no rules, however 15 minutes to 90 minute sessions, 1-6 times per week is the guideline.

It is worth noting that shorter, more frequent practice leads to better results than less-frequent but longer practices.

Yoga clothes – what to wear

There is no need to buy specific yoga clothes, although some choose to. Anything comfortable and loose, or leggings are perfect for yoga practice.

Generally clothes that allow a free range of movement will enable you to be focused on your yoga practice and not getting tangled up in a too tight top!

Beginners yoga – before your session

It it not advisable to eat just before a practice and a large meal should be avoided for at least three hours, ideally. However, a snack can be helpful for energy levels over an hour before starting.

It is important to stay hydrated during yoga and depending on the type of yoga and how vigorous the routine, will depend on how much water to drink. Keep a bottle or glass handy though. Some studio’s provide free water to students.

Beginners yoga London

The important thing is that you are getting started. Often people want to learn but procrastinate in taking the first steps, for whatever reason.

Once you take that first step, it is probable, like so many others you will wonder how you survived so long without it!

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