6 Tips for Yoga Beginners
As a novice Yogi myself, I only recently changed my perception of Yoga. Not long ago I equated the practice with unimaginably bendy people and impossible limb twisting positions. And if once like me, you find touching your toes a daunting prospect you might mistakenly believe that Yoga isn’t for you. But you’d be wrong; Yoga really isn’t about whether you can get your foot behind your head or if your capable of getting into that suspiciously effortless pretzel shape, it is simply a process of reconnecting with yourself, uniting your breath, body and mind. In essence Yoga is about creating balance in the body and with that comes the development of both flexibility and strength. I believe it really is for everyone and so here are my top tips for first timers to help us gently ease into that downward facing dog position!
1. Get out of your own way – don’t be your own barrier and hold yourself back.
If you are not flexible, if you think you could do with losing a few pounds, or even if you are venturing into yoga at the age of 80, simply let go, let go of whatever it is that is holding you back. Get started and embrace and enjoy the journey ahead. You are unique- avoid comparison, remember that every body type is different and that everyone is at different levels of ability and expertise; ultimately everyone is on the same path but just at different points of that path. Don’t feel pressure to overexert yourself because you’ll only get yourself into trouble and do yourself an injury! Rather than trying to undertake a pose you aren’t ready for, see inspiration in those poses instead. Learn by observation and trust that patience and practice will get you to where you want to be.
2. Adapt poses – don’t be afraid to adapt and modify poses to match your capability. When you need a rest, don’t be apprehensive about taking one; listen to your body. A very healing and restorative position, ‘Child’s Pose’, is perfect for when you’re in need of a break, it’s a simple relaxation pose in which you can get your breath back and relax your body.
3. Stay with your breath – Day to day we don’t ordinarily focus on our breath, breathing is simply something we do unconsciously to live. In Yoga a focus on breath is essential and first and foremost you must clear your mind and body through conscious breathing. A focus on breath is so important and is what distinguishes Yoga; it not only calms you but enables you to stretch that little bit further into a pose; deep slow inhalations through the nose regulates temperature, keeps you energised as well as calm and can aid in helping you form a deeper mind to body connection.
4. Don’t ditch the relaxation – Never feel tempted to sneak out and skip the final relaxation part of a yoga session or class. Often referred to as ‘Savasana’ or the ‘Corpse Pose’ it really is as important as the rest of your practice. The deeply restorative pose may appear easy but people often find it difficult to fully let go. It can be very appealing to have a little snooze in this last part of a class (particularly after a strenuous session!) but ideally you want to remain fully conscious and aware for the pose’s duration. It is a valuable time for reflection and to connect with your most peaceful self.
5. Drink water – An obvious one, but yoga can be surprisingly physically demanding so be prepared to sweat and always stay hydrated.
6.Keep an open mind – there are many different styles and traditions of Yoga, some practices have histories extending back thousands of years, whilst others are adaptations of traditions and are a little more contemporary. Do a little research and discover what you essentially want out of the practice. Classes range from Bikram, Power to Vinyasa, just to name a few, and they can all vastly differ. People kick start their Yoga practice for numerous different reasons, some find the physical practice ends up becoming an avenue for spiritual exploration and discovery. Others simply appreciate yoga as an amazing low-impact exercise regime that makes them feel awesome.
Whatever your reasoning or inclination you will most certainly find a Yoga practice and style fitting for you and your lifestyle.
The best thing about Yoga is that it truly is for everyone; your own practice is constantly evolving with you so my last tip is to just have fun and enjoy yourself!
Written by Sophie