In a lot of the yoga groups that I follow, one of the main questions that seems to be asked almost every day is: “How do I begin doing yoga?”, or “How do I start doing yoga?”.
The best way is to go to your local yoga studio and sign up for a beginner’s class. You can also spend some time talking to the teachers there. Do not underestimate going to a class and talking to someone in person.
Yes, there are a lot of online classes and programs that you can take, but when you are first starting out, this can be dangerous. I say “dangerous” because if you don’t know anything about the poses you are doing, you are opening yourself up to injuries.
Lastly, if you are struggling with money, there are many studios that offer a free week, so you can “try before you buy”. Alternatively, if you really can not afford to pay for a studio, but want to attend one, you can check if your local studio does a trade. For example, some studios have a program where you can clean the studio once a week for a couple hours in exchange for an unlimited membership.
If you want to progress in your yoga practice, you must practice daily, or at least 4-5 times a week. There are people that will say, “I’ve been doing yoga for ten years”, but maybe they only practice a few times a month, and have not really progressed in their practice.
Yoga is not only the postures or asana, but also includes meditation, breathing (pranayama), etc. Once you become comfortable with the postures, try to take some meditation and pranayama classes. Just remember to go step by step, don’t overwhelm yourself.
The most important advice I could give you is: Don’t let others intimidate or dissuade you. That goes along with: Don’t compare yourself to others.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Too many times I have heard people saying “I’m not flexible enough”, or “I could never be like that person”, and the list of excuses goes on and on. Or perhaps you’ve told someone that you want to start doing yoga and they say to you, “But, you’re too old”, or “Yoga is for women”, or “Are you sure you can do it?”.
There will always be someone, or even your own self, that will try to dissuade you from accomplishing your goals. If you allow others and your own negative thoughts to make decisions for you, you will accomplish nothing.
When you’re in a yoga class, or even looking at photos on Instagram under the #yoga tag, don’t compare yourself to the people you see. Everyone has their own yoga journey that is different from yours. They could have been a dancer, or started doing yoga at a young age, or simply have different genetics than you do.
We are all different and are at different stages of our journey. It’s OK to be at whatever stage of your journey you are at.
Do Your Research
There are many types of yoga, each with different benefits. There’s Ashtanga, Hatha, Iyengar, Yin, Restorative, Jivamukti, Universal, Raja, Hot, Kundalini, and so on.
Try to spend some time learning about which yoga method is right for you. Consider what your goals are for your yoga practice. Are you someone who is trying to alleviate anxiety? Perhaps, you have some kind of physical issues that you want to correct? Or maybe you just need a safe space to relax?
Whether your goal is to improve mentally, physically, or spiritually, there is a form of yoga that can help you achieve your goals. Even speaking to a yoga teacher face-to-face can help you gain some insight.
Don’t Forget the Importance of Breath and Meditation
“By self-control over the maintenance of breath, one may radiate light.” – 3.39, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Last, but not least do not underestimate the importance of breathing and meditation. Pranayama (breathing) is an extremely important part of both the physical aspect of yoga, and the meditative aspect.
If you can learn to control your breath, you can have dominion over your body and mind. This is where the mind-body connection happens. We breathe every day, every minute of our lives, but do we really breathe?
There is a difference between shallow, mindless breathing, and becoming aware of your breath; Being able to fill your body with oxygen, instead of just breathing only at your chest area. Also, inhaling and exhaling through your nose is also important. Be aware of mouth-breathing.
With meditation, remember that there is not just one form of meditation. It is not just sitting down in a cross-legged position and closing your eyes. Meditation can also be found in movement.
You can be meditating during your yoga flow. You can also do a walking meditation. Or, maybe you have a hobby such as playing an instrument or painting. When you are so immersed in something, without the interruption of constant thoughts or “mind chatter”, that is also meditation.
So, take those first steps and just get started. You’ll be happy that you did.