Yoga For Beginners

Yoga is a flexible, low-impact exercise that builds strength and balance while cultivating mindfulness. But getting started can be intimidating.

Choosing the right class can help make the experience more enjoyable and accessible, so beginners can reap the benefits of a regular practice. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know before taking your first class.

What to Wear

The most important thing to wear to yoga is loose-fitting clothes that allow movement, ideally made from breathable light fabrics and soft seams. The fabric should also wick away sweat. Look for activewear or yoga-specific clothing, especially in cotton, that is designed specifically with this purpose in mind. For women, there are yoga tops and camisoles with an inbuilt shelf bra to help provide support and coverage.

Avoid oversized outfits, as they can expose your stomach or other parts of the body during certain postures and get tangled in the body while you are trying to stretch and move. You also want to avoid tight-fitting clothing that is uncomfortable and causes chafing, itching or other discomfort during the practice.

Choosing a Class

Choosing the right class will help ensure that your yoga experience is a successful one. Start by assessing your strength, flexibility and physical abilities, then find a class that matches those needs. If you have any injuries or other concerns, be sure to notify your instructor ahead of time so they can offer modifications and assist you in poses that require more support.

Flowing Vinyasa and Hatha yoga classes are good choices for beginners, as they typically provide instructions that can be tailored for all levels of students. Some studios also offer beginner-only classes, which can be easier to navigate than an all-levels class, explains yoga instructor and stretch therapist Claire Grieve.

Yin yoga is another good option for newbies, as it is a slow-paced style that allows you to focus on flexibility and mindfulness. Plus, it encourages activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which can reduce heart rate and blood pressure, lower cortisol and boost overall well-being.


Rhythmic breathing is the foundation of yoga practice. It allows you to move into poses while keeping the body relaxed and balanced. It also helps you to release tension and calms the mind.

A big sigh or exhalation releases carbon dioxide and changes the biochemistry of the brain, helping you to relax and shift out of the fight-or-flight mode. This is a key component of yogic relaxation, which is called pranayama.

Experienced yoga instructors will intelligently sequence breath with movement. For example, they will encourage you to inhale during poses that open the front of the body. When you inhale, the diaphragm and pelvic floor descend and the chest and ribs expand. Conversely, when you exhale, the lungs and abdomen contract.

Some yogic breathing techniques can be practiced without movement and have some scientific support, but most are best learned under the guidance of a yoga instructor. Breathing deeply and correctly can help the lungs, heart and nervous system stay healthy and strong.


Yoga is a physical practice, but there are many options to accommodate your body’s limitations. Yoga instructors are trained to help students of all fitness levels achieve their goals in a safe and healthy manner.

Beginners can benefit from starting with a class specifically designed for beginners. This type of class will have a slower pace and less complex poses.

Standing poses are often done first in a yoga class to build heat and prepare the body for more advanced postures. Seated stretches stretch the hips and hamstrings and balance poses strengthen the core.

Beginners can find difficulty with backbends, which require the spine to move in ways it doesn’t in daily life. Placing a block (at any height) under the seat of your mat can offer support to help beginner’s safely reach into a backbend. Resting and supine poses can also be modified for beginners by using a blanket or pillow to create support for the head and neck.