Yoga For Beginners

Being a beginner in yoga can feel overwhelming. However, you can rest easy knowing that everyone was a beginner once!

Wear comfortable clothes such as yoga pants, sweatpants, a T-shirt or a sweatshirt. You will want to be able to move freely without any restrictions. You may also want to bring a mat, a blanket or a pillow for comfort.

What is Yoga?

You might notice a few physical changes in your body after getting into yoga, like toned muscles or greater flexibility. But the mental and emotional benefits that come with a consistent practice can be just as rewarding for overall health.

Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation. It is believed to improve overall health by reducing stress and improving moods and sleeping habits.

The word “yoga” translates to union, and the practice is meant to connect you to a higher consciousness or state of being. The Hindu philosophy behind yoga is that when the fluctuations of the mind are tamed, we can experience a state of peace and well-being. Yoga’s foundation is rooted in the ancient writings known as the Sutras, which teach that by changing the way you think and act, you can change your world. There are a variety of yoga styles, from hatha to vinyasa to ashtanga, but all focus on strengthening the body while increasing flexibility and calmness.

Benefits of Yoga

Adding yoga to your routine can improve strength, flexibility and balance. In addition, it can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It can also help manage symptoms of chronic diseases such as asthma, multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

Research shows that yoga can increase muscle tone and flexibility in people of all ages. Yoga can improve balance by teaching participants to use their inner ear, vision and proprioception (the ability to sense where they are in space) to control their movements.

It can also lower heart rate and improve breathing and overall cardiovascular fitness, especially if people practice it consistently at a level that gets their hearts pumping. It can also decrease back pain, neck pain, migraine and tension-type headaches and improve sleep quality. Some studies show that yoga can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, but other research hasn’t shown clear evidence that yoga is better than other types of exercise for these conditions. Yoga can cause injuries, but these can be prevented by practicing safely and by working with a knowledgeable instructor.

How to Start Yoga

There are many types of yoga, and the practice can be as gentle or as challenging as you like. Beginners are encouraged to try different styles and instructors to find the best fit for their body.

One good yoga stretch for beginners is cat-cow, which stretches the spine. Another is bridge pose, which stretches the hamstrings and can help counteract back pain that’s often caused by sitting too much. If a full bridge is too intense, beginners can use a block to raise the floor to a height they can reach comfortably.

It’s important to remember that yoga takes time and patience, especially as a beginner. But, as with any exercise program, if you stick with it, you’ll see benefits. And, if you can get to know your own body better by learning about it through yoga, that’s a bonus. According to the National Institutes of Health, regular yoga can reduce stress, improve sleep and increase self-esteem.

Tips for Beginners

If you’re a beginner, be sure to choose a class that’s suitable for your skill level. Classes that are geared towards more experienced students can be challenging for beginners, while overly fast-paced workouts may lead to injury. Look for words like “beginner,” “gentle,” or “restorative” in the description, and if in doubt about a specific class, call or email the studio to ask whether it’s appropriate for newcomers.

Make yoga as comfortable as possible by putting on loose, stretchy clothing and choosing a mat that doesn’t slip, especially on hard surfaces. It’s also helpful to bring a water bottle and set an intention for your practice (a mantra that can change for each session, if you prefer). For example, you might choose to focus on peace, health, or a feeling of connection. This will help you stay present during class and get the most out of your workout.