Yoga For Beginners

Yoga can help improve your physical and mental health. But it’s important to start slowly and build up a consistent practice to reap the benefits.

Beginners should stick to a class designed for beginners. Look for a short class that won’t overwhelm you or require too much endurance. You may also want to check the class duration and whether it mentions using bolsters, pillows, or other props.

Choosing a Class

Many new students feel overwhelmed when they try yoga for the first time. It is important to determine why you want to practice yoga and your goals. Once you do, it will be easier to decide which type of class is right for you.

Look for classes that are labeled as beginner or introductory yoga to be sure you will be among fellow beginners and will receive support and instruction from the instructor. A smaller class size can also be beneficial for beginners, as it allows the instructor to give each student more personalized guidance and answer questions.

Ask your yoga friends for recommendations, or browse online for reviews and ratings of yoga studios and instructors. Consider the teacher’s teaching style, as it can have a significant impact on your experience and your ability to follow along in class.

Preparing for Class

As with any new exercise, it can feel intimidating to jump into a class full of people moving in ways you are not. But remember that you started off feeling the same way when you first picked up a basketball or learned to drive.

A good yoga instructor will keep in mind that it is your first time taking the class and will offer guidance throughout the session. Tell your instructor before class begins if you are completely new to yoga so they can pay extra attention to your form and help you when needed.

Before you head to the studio, make sure to wear loose and comfortable clothes that allow you to move. Also, bring a towel and water bottle. It is helpful to have an intention for your practice, which can be a simple as “relax” or more detailed like “peace, joy, gratitude.” This is a tool that helps you stay focused and mindful during your session.

Arriving on the Mat

The first time you wiggle on your mat, it’s likely you’ll feel overwhelmed. But think back to your first time cooking or playing a sport; that initial feeling is normal, and it is what allows you to grow in confidence and skill.

The studio is full of people of all ages and sizes, which can be intimidating. When you arrive, choose a space that feels comfortable and secure for your practice. A majority of people prefer to take class in the middle of the room, where they can feel fully centered.

Consider a Hatha yoga class, which is beginner-friendly and will help you understand the fundamentals of poses. You can also try chair or restorative classes for beginners, which are more gentle on the body.


A common pose, this one helps stretch the lower back and legs. It’s also great for increasing balance and focus. Beginners should use a block or bolster under their hips and keep their hands close to their feet for support.

This gentle backbend strengthens the spine and buttocks, and stretches the shoulders, chest, and abdomen. It’s a good place to start if you are new to backbends and don’t want to go too deep at first.

Get on all fours, with the forearms on the floor and the fingers spread wide. Inhale, then arch the back to scoop the tailbone towards the ceiling. Exhale, and return to the starting position. Repeat as many times as desired.


Aside from the poses, breathing techniques are known as pranayama and can be a real game changer in yoga. Studies show that when properly practiced, yogic breathing can help strengthen the lungs and heart.

Try this simple technique to calm your mind: Inhale for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts. Repeat for a few minutes to establish your baseline lengths of each breath, then gradually expand the time of your inhales and exhales.

Ujjayi Pranayama is a deep, ocean-like breath that warms the body and helps clear the energy channels of the body. It also helps relieve respiratory issues like asthma and allergies.