Are you new to yoga? If you are a beginner, don’t worry, this guide on expert yoga tips will help you learn an enjoyable practice that will support your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a body-mind practice. It offers immense benefits for physical and mental health. As a result, it has grown in popularity across the world.
The root of the word yoga means union, integration, or wholeness. In the context of yoga, this means the integration of body, mind, and spirit, or the union of the individual and universal consciousness.
Living a healthy lifestyle is what yoga is all about. To live a healthy, happy life to the fullest extent, yoga provides a complete philosophy. As the founder of the Art of Living Foundation says, “Every human life has the potential to blossom fully.” Yoga is a way to blossom human potential to its full potential.
This guide to yoga for beginners will help you get started with proven expert tips that have helped many beginners yogis all across the world to start a beautiful, fulfilling practice!
Expert Yoga Tips for Beginners: An Easy Guide to Help You Start Today
Yoga Tips #1: YOGA FOR THE YOUNG
For children, yoga is a great way to develop self-awareness, self-control, and powers of concentration. If you have kids, encourage them to join you in your yoga practice. They are likely to be ﬂexible even if they lack stamina. However, the latter will increase with regular sessions.
Yoga Tips #2: YOGA FOR THE ELDERLY
There is no age limit for yoga, in part because it is non-competitive, and you work at your own pace. Done correctly, there is no risk of injury, and regular practice helps maintain good health and mobility. Additionally, yoga stimulates circulation and reduces the effects of arthritis.
Yoga Tips #3: YOGA FOR THE PREGNANT
Practicing yoga during the prenatal period can be a valuable learning experience. Also, it can help ease your pregnancy, as well as the delivery. Work slowly and gently, allowing the poses to relax and strengthen the body and help it adjust to the changes that are happening within. However, talk to your instructor about which poses should not be attempted while pregnant.
AND BREATHE Yogic breathing exercises—always important—come into their own during pregnancy, helping you make the most of your breath.
Yoga Tips #4: YOGA FOR STRESS
Many yoga asanas help relieve stress by releasing tension that has built up in your body. Breathing exercises and meditation are also helpful since they relax the body and calm the mind. Mental tranquillity can be further encouraged by avoiding stimulants.
Yoga Tips #5: YOGA FOR RELAXATION
Just as relaxing the body and mind helps get you ready for your yoga practice, your regular sessions make it easier for you to maintain a relaxed state in general—and easier to achieve that relaxed state when you are feeling the stresses and strains of daily life.
Yoga Tips #6: WHEN TO PRACTICE YOGA?
Because yoga should be practiced on an empty stomach, early mornings or evenings tend to be the best times, but you need to consider what suits you best. Morning practice awakens the body and eases stiffness by lubricating the joints and energizing the muscles. Digestion is stimulated, and mental alertness is increased, ready for a productive day. Conversely, evening yoga can help counter the stresses of the day, improving the quality of your sleep. Whichever you choose, setting aside regular time is good for establishing a routine.
Yoga Tips #7: WHERE TO PRACTICE YOGA?
You don’t need a special room or fancy equipment for yoga, but there are some things to consider when choosing a practice place. Ideally, opt for a private area away from distractions. If that area is spacious, even better, since this can have a positive effect on the mind and, therefore, help you relax. Try to personalize the space, too, because this can also calm the mind.
LIGHT AND AIRY
Ideally, your space should be lit by natural light and have some form of ventilation. The ﬂoor should be level, ﬁrm, and nonslip.
If you are lucky enough to be near a quiet, ﬂat open space, take advantage of it. Lay down your mat, and greet the day with open-air yoga.
Yoga Tips #8: YOGA CLASSES
Regardless of how small or large your class is, it is always best to have your yoga practice supervised by a qualiﬁed teacher at least until you are conﬁdent. This is the only way to learn how to ease your body correctly into and out of the asanas, as well as how to breathe correctly when holding a pose. Your teacher will also make sure you do not strain your limbs.
Get your yoga practice off to the best possible start by taking classes. They will also help you improve your technique and build your conﬁdence.
Yoga Tips #9: YOGA AT HOME
Yoga’s portability means that, once you have some experience, you will be able to practice the postures in the comfort of your own home. Indeed, your teacher may even suggest that you work at home with some of the simpler asanas or with relaxation techniques.
With just yourself and a mat (or a comfortable ﬂoor), it is perfectly possible to practice yoga at home.
Yoga Tips #10: GETTING STARTED WITH YOGA
KNOW YOUR BODY
Before you undertake any yoga practice, ﬁrst take the time to understand your body, bearing in mind any factors that might affect its performance, such as recent surgery, pregnancy, or medical conditions.
CHECK FOR TENSION
While in an asana, check for any tension and try to relax it with your breathing.
UNDERSTAND YOUR LIMITS
It is important to know what your body’s limits are and not to force yourself to go beyond them. There is no rush; yoga is completely non-competitive. Continue your regular yoga sessions, and you will ﬁnd your body becomes more ﬂexible with time.
CONSULT A DOCTOR
Regardless of age, yoga is perfectly appropriate for everyone. Nevertheless, as with any physical exercise, if you have any medical concerns or conditions, it is a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning a class.
Yoga equipment will keep you safer and more comfortable while you practice. Some pieces, such as blocks and straps, can also be used to help you achieve poses that would otherwise be beyond your capabilities, as you continue to work on expanding your level of ﬂexibility. Props and supports can also extend the time you can hold a pose with proper body alignment.
YOGA KIT CHECKLIST
The equipment you are most likely to need or find useful in your yoga practice comprises:
- Slip-resistant mat
- Block, usually foam
- Strap or belt
WHAT TO WEAR
Whatever you wear for your yoga sessions should be comfortable and must allow complete freedom of movement. Ideally, you would practice in bare feet, but socks are ﬁne. If practical to do so, also remove any dangling jewelry before beginning your session because it may distract or annoy you.
PLAN YOUR SESSIONS
More experienced yoga practitioners working alone may ﬁnd it useful to create a plan in advance of each session or to work out the sequence of asanas. This will save time because you don’t have to choose between postures during the session.
SAMPLE WORKOUT/ YOGA ROUTINE
1. Mountain Pose
2. Triangle Pose
3. Warrior 2
4. Extended Side Stretch
5. Downward-Facing Dog
7. Warrior Lunge
9. Cat Balance
11. Child’s Pose
13. Corpse Pose
KEEP A YOGA JOURNAL
Writing in a yoga journal after each session will help you track your goals and accomplishments, as well as allow you to identify any problem areas that need more attention. A yoga journal can also act as a means of reinforcing your practice so you can more easily tailor it to your own needs.
SET YOUR GOALS
Although yoga is not a competitive pursuit, it can be fun and rewarding to set your own goals in a yoga journal.
MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS
It’s important when practicing any discipline to have a way of tracking progress. As well as keeping a yoga journal, a good method of self-assessment is to listen to your body. This requires practice and concentration, but once you are attuned to your body, you will be able to identify the beneﬁts of your practice.
REFLECT FOR A MOMENT
Take time to reﬂect on your progress. This will help you build a ﬁrm foundation for your future yoga sessions.
When you ﬁrst start yoga, you will almost certainly experience some stiffness and soreness in the joints. This shows you are working on areas that may have been neglected. Building ﬂexibility in these parts requires patience and commitment. If you ﬁnd a speciﬁc pose hard, practice a modiﬁed version until you can progress.
USING PROPS FOR STANDING POSITIONS
Forward bends and other standing postures may be beyond your reach to perform correctly when you ﬁrst attempt them. Blocks or other means of support— a chair, for example—can be used to modify the posture so that increased ﬂexibility can be gradually attained without injuring yourself.
USING PROPS FOR FLOOR POSES
By using a strap or a belt, you can start working toward achieving a posture that would otherwise be impossible for you when you ﬁrst begin to practice yoga. When lying down, cushions and blankets can help provide the comfort you need to relax fully.
It is important to learn how to breathe efﬁciently for yoga. Lying on your back, place your hands on either side of your navel. Feel how the abdomen expands as you inhale and contracts as you exhale. By breathing slowly and deeply, you can take air into the lowest parts of your lungs, while also exercising your diaphragm.
HOW TO INHALE & EXHALE?
Inhalation can be used to lengthen and expand within an asana, while exhalation helps release deeper into the pose. Careful and progressive work within postures will allow for a full, easy- ﬂowing breath, which is a crucial indicator of how well the asana is being executed. In this respect, the breath and asana practice must work together.
THE IMPORTANCE OF WARMING UP
Before beginning a yoga session, make sure you are fully warmed up. You should also take some time to practice your breathing techniques. Mastering breath control will allow you to breathe more deeply, enable you to position yourself correctly in the yoga asanas and assist you in holding the poses.
Yoga Tips #11: WARM-UP EXERCISES FOR BEGINNERS
This series of exercises is purely for the eyes, so be sure not to move the head or neck while doing them. Look up (below left). Look right (below middle left). Look up diagonally to the right (middle right). Look down (right). Repeat the sequence, this time looking to the left side and up diagonally to the left. Hold each position for a few seconds.
Sit upright with your back straight. Slowly tilt your head forward, and then backward. Then tilt your head to the right, before repeating the same to the left. Finally, rotate your head 90 degrees to the right and then again to the left side. Hold each position for a few seconds. Never move your neck beyond what is comfortable.
Stand upright with your ﬁngertips on your shoulders and your elbows out to the side. Inhale, bringing your elbows in front of you so they touch. Exhale, lifting the elbows up and apart, stretching them up. Finally, lower the elbows down. Repeat ten times.
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your palms resting on your hips. Gently and rhythmically, twist your upper body side to side, rotating at the hips, waist, and spine. Perform ten twists on each side, also allowing your head and shoulders to go with the movement.
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, and put your hands on your hips. Keeping your legs straight and kneecaps pulled up, rotate the hips in a circle, ten times clockwise and ten times counterclockwise. Make sure you engage the hips and upper body in the roll.
Stand with your feet together and with your legs slightly bent at the knees. Bring your hands to rest lightly on your kneecaps, with ﬁngers pointing downward. Rotate your knees gently in a circular motion, ten times in each direction, keeping your feet ﬁrmly rooted to the ground.
From a standing position, lift your right leg slightly, keeping the left leg ﬁrm. Balance yourself, then gently swing the right leg, toes pointing down. Hold for a few breaths before switching legs. Follow this by gently rotating the right foot at the ankle—ﬁrst one way, then the other. Repeat with the left foot.
The feet should be stretched in both directions. First, stretch the heels a few times. Do this by lifting the right heel as far as possible, then lowering it. Next, roll onto the front of the right toes, curling and gently pressing them under the foot. Hold for 2–3 breaths, then repeat on the left.