Welcome to the Yoga Guide for Beginners!
When new to Yoga, it can feel intimidating and difficult to know precisely where and how to begin. This Yoga for Beginners manual was created especially for you–to give you all of the tips, guidelines, and recommendations you will need to initiate your best Yoga practice. To ensure your best experience, we recommend reading this post in its entirety before beginning any Yoga practice.
What is Yoga?
Traditionally, Yoga’s goal is to integrate mind, body, and soul to reach a state of enlightenment, or oneness with the universe. Various disciplines of Yoga incorporate different approaches to reach enlightenment. Ultimately maintain the same goals: to reach samadhi, or the enlightened state. Western Yoga has become most similar to Hatha (ha-ta) Yoga, one of many disciplines of Yoga. Hatha Yoga, as described by yogi extraordinaire Gina Caputo, is a ‘moving meditation’. Each movement is physical, yet invites a greater awareness of the practitioner’s internal ce and purify the mind and body for a seated, still meditation.
Regardless of your intentions for coming to Yoga, your goals to achieve, or your expectations of the practice, the Yoga practice is a wonderful option to exercise and strengthen your body, your mind, and the relationship between the two.
Is Yoga Right for You?
In short, yes! Contrary to social media indications and some body movement practitioners, Yoga is in no way exclusive. If you have a body, regardless of its shape or size, capabilities, or circumstances, you can practice Yoga. The ability to practice Yoga doesn’t matter how old you are, how much you weigh, what you do for a living, where you live, or what faith you practice. Yoga is available for everyone. While there are social, economic, and environmental factors that all too frequently hinder would-be yogis heading to the mat, the Yoga practice is based in pranayama, or breath-work. Have five minutes at your desk to close your eyes and listen to your breath in an intentional way? You’re starting on your path to be a yogi! Yoga is not limited to the able-bodies. It’s extended to every body.
Find the right fit!
While extended to every body, some practitioners may have a health illness or a recent injury, potentially making it dangerous or challenging to do particular poses or breathing techniques. Teachers at Lotus Yoga will be able to offer modifications that allow you to explore what you’re able to experience, rather than what you’re unable to experience. There are many alternatives and modifications that enable you to practice Yoga safely and specific classes that best fit your needs.
In the course of the practice, you may notice many frequent complaints have particular Yoga movements that may help in the recovery of aches, pains, and injuries. If you’re recovering from an injury or are of poor health and have not been given the go-ahead from your doctor or healthcare practitioner, consult with them before beginning any Yoga practice. Yoga can be recommended as a supplement to a well-rounded treatment plan but should never be substituted for professional medical care.
What to expect:
While you may experience sensations in various parts of your body in asanas (Yoga poses, pronounced ‘ahhh-san-a’), it should not be painful, especially in the joints. A sharp or intense pain is your body’s signal to stop and re-evaluate the post. This is one of the many ways that Yoga, when practiced mindfully, strengthens the mind-body connection.
If you are a brand new practitioner or coming back to the practice after some time off, we recommend you start with a gentle Yoga practice until you’ve built up the strength and flexibility for more challenging sequences. It is almost always best to error on the side of safety and caution and approach Yoga slowly and attentively. Lotus Yoga and Wellness has an array of classes designed specifically for those starting out their Yoga journey. Basic Beginner’s Yoga, Yoga Basics, Beyond Basics, Yin Deep Stretch, and Stretch and Restore classes are offered throughout the week at various times and a great first introduction or re-introduction to Yoga.
Yoga is typically done in bare feet or sticky socks on a mat with various Yoga props. These additional, optional props, including but not limited to straps, blocks, blankets, and bolsters. Don’t have any of these available? Not a problem! These can be easily substituted with scarves or neckties, a stack of books, and pillows. Lotus Yoga and Wellness, and most Yoga studios, will have all of these and more available for you to use during class time.
Props allow your body to find your best expression of a pose. No yogi will look the same as the next, as all bodies are structurally different. Props open the gateway of your practice supporting you in the present moment, not where you think you should be.
We recommend that you begin with a brief and simple Yoga class and gradually develop from there. As soon as you are feeling comfortable with a few standard beginner Yoga poses, you can integrate them in a sequence and continue to include more challenging poses. Ensure to learn and follow the vital components of a Yoga practice: meditation, breathing (pranayama), intention, asanas, and comfort.
How Often Should I Do Yoga?
If you’re able to practice Yoga one or more times each week, you may notice significant improvements in your flexibility, range of movement, strength, balance, inner peace, and overall well-being. Ideally, when starting a self-practice, we recommend shorter and more frequent periods, 20-45 minutes for a total of 3-4 hours spread over several days. Practicing Yoga for any amount of time is beneficial but you may notice a larger amount of improvement over a shorter time period with a consistent practice. Like learning any new activity, consistent practice yields more fruitful results.
The Benefits of Practicing Yoga
The benefits of Yoga are nearly endless. Practicing Yoga beyond an exercise class helps build character and values. Non-harming, honesty, devotion, self-inquiry, mindfulness, and non-attachment are all traditional teachings of Yoga, all of which you may find following you off the mat. Yoga empowers you to make conscious choices toward living your best life, achieving your dharma, or your life’s purpose. At Lotus Yoga and Wellness, teachers are deeply rooted in the traditional, spiritual teachings of Yoga, the Eight Limbed Path as set forth by Patanjali sometime before 400CE. They synthesize continuing to teach from Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga with bringing the practice to all those who wish to do Yoga.
Patience, dedication, repetition, and consistency are the keys to growing and progressing in the tradition of Yoga. After you’ve found a teacher that works for you to start your Yoga practice, we invite you to explore these tips:
- Commit to a regular program of Yoga classes or home clinic
- Continually be curious about the affects of your practice and your desired intensity. If it feels right to you, increase the number of classes you attend per week or the length of your practice. There’s always the choice to do more or less and the only person that knows what’s right for you is you!
- Attend Yoga workshops that focus on specific aspects of the Yoga practice that interest you.
- Journal the effects a consistent Yoga practice has in your body, head, and heart
- Read and study to learn more about Yoga. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your teachers!
- Find sources of inspiration for you to continue your practice.
- Make friends at your studio and get to know your fellow yogis.
All in all, there can be a lot of information to sort through and factors to consider when starting a Yoga practice. We hope that this can help clarify questions you may have about Yoga, where to start, and what to expect. If you have any additional questions, we’d be happy to answer them for you at our studio.
Lotus Yoga and Wellness