Please note: I am in no way a yoga guru, expert or well-versed yoga teacher (YET), but I just want to offer some tips to those of you who may be looking to start a yoga practice and just don’t know how or where to get started. Enjoy!
I started yoga on a whim. When I first moved back to Chicago from Delaware in 2010, my friend Allison and I went to CorePower Yoga just out of the blue. She’d been doing yoga on and off and suggested that I go with her to this “hot yoga” class. Before that, I’d never done yoga before and I’ll admit, I had my preconceived notions about it: it’s for hippies, it’s weird, it’s not really a workout, it’s only for people who are really flexible, it’s supposed to be relaxing, it’s supposed to stretch you out, you have to make weird noises during it, etc. Ridiculous, right? But truthfully, those notions are pretty widespread among people who have never experienced yoga. I determined that I’d go with an open mind and just see what it’s all about.
I fell in love.
We meditated a bit. We breathed. The teacher guided us into a flow and we posed with each breath. I did poses and moves I’d seen online before and in magazines and in those moments, they weren’t “weird” or for “hippies” they were powerful and accessible and relaxing and challenging. It was awesome.
I started doing yoga intermittently. Trying to take a class here or there, but I wasn’t consistent in my practice. I didn’t really become consistent until last year and even more consistent this year, practicing at home or going to a class at least once a week. So… with ALL that said, I just wanted to offer some tips on how to start a yoga practice to folks who may either be intimidated by yoga, just don’t know where to start, or both.
1. Drop all your inhibitions and free yourself from fear.
I think this is probably the most important and meaningful tip I can give anyone looking to start yoga. I had to drop all my preconceived notions before I went to my first yoga class, otherwise, I don’t think I would’ve had such a great experience. It may seem “weird” or even scary at first, but I promise you, letting go is key. Remember, you don’t have to be like everyone else. You don’t even have to “look” like all the yogis you see on Instagram or in magazines or on TV. You don’t have to be a certain size or weight. You don’t have to be white either. One of my favorite yogis is Diane Bondy of diannebondyyoga.com. She’s a plus-size, African American yogi who encourages everyone, especially those who are overweight, to give yoga a try and change the way yoga is projected in mainstream media. I LOVE this article she wrote just last week about “How Does Yoga Define You?”. She is amazing and I’m so grateful for her influence and vision in the yoga world.
2. Get your own yoga mat.
Seems simple enough, right? But you’d be surprised at how much more committed you are when you’ve got your own mat to practice on. You can find a good, sturdy (and even pretty) yoga mat at places like Target, Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, etc. Your mat is where you commit your practice. Your mat is where you breathe and meditate. Your mat is where you set your intentions each time you step onto it. So go get yourself a mat.
3. Check out a yoga class for beginners and bring a friend!
There are probably quite a few yoga studios in your city that offer a level 1 or beginners yoga class. Those classes are a nice way to get introduced to the practice and what it involves, teaching you each pose slowly and focusing on breath. Most studios offer beginner classes in the more traditional yoga style called Vinyasa (“breath-synchronized movement”). One of my favorite yoga studios here in Chicago is CorePower Yoga which offers a few different classes as well as a level 1 class. Do your research and call around. You might even be able to find a FREE community beginner’s yoga class at a smaller studio. And yoga is always so much more fun with friends! Grab someone and go!
4. Sign up for a free trial at YogaGlo.com
Sometimes it’s a bit hard to work a new activity into our schedules. That’s totally understandable. And that’s why there are resources online for those of us in a time crunch. You can load a video up on your computer and get it done. My favorite online destination for yoga classes is YogaGlo. They have a massive amount of classes in about 7 different styles of yoga, and tons of different teachers, but they have a set of videos dedicated just for the beginner yogi. You can give YogaGlo a try free for 15 days when you first sign up. After that, if you decide you like it, it’s $18 a month. MUCH cheaper than a even a gym membership. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to the idea of doing a yoga class online if you can’t get out to a class.
5. Allow yourself to be a beginner.
I can’t stress this enough. There’s a fine line between being inspired to do yoga and being intimidated or scared to do it because others are more advanced than you. Everyone had to start somewhere. Every single person that seems advanced or more bendy or flexible or whatever, started as a beginner. Yoga isn’t about how well you do a pose. Yoga isn’t about being able to wrap your feet behind your head. Yoga is a flow, a meditation, a practice, a way to center yourself and relieve stress. Focus on starting your journey and go with the flow. Literally. Your body will tell you when it’s ready to advance or move further in a pose. Take your time, be yourself and don’t feel pressured to be perfect. It’s not about that.
With all that said, are you ready to get started? I hope this post helps to take away some of the fear and anxiety you may have about starting yoga. If you’ve always been curious about it, nothing left to do but to try it. I’d love to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment below if you plan to try it this week!