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A Beginner's Guide to Yoga

Updated: Feb 8

Curious about yoga but not sure where to start? 

The yoga world can be overwhelming for beginners, with its various styles, terminology and flawless Instagram models performing intimidating poses. Don't let that stop you! Real yoga doesn't have to be complicated to be effective. It can actually be quite simple! Embarking on your yoga journey is a beautiful and transformative experience, and I'm here to help guide you through those initial steps.

First, research different types of yoga and choose a style that resonates with you. Whether it's the gentle flow of Hatha, the dynamic sequences of Vinyasa, or the stretch and stillness of Yin, there's truly something for everyone. Consider reading online descriptions of classes before you attend. Beginners should look for words like: Restorative, Slow, Gentle, Basic, Introduction and Beginner. Remember: there is no shame in being a beginner! There is a lot of magic in new beginnings! To enter with a beginner's mind is powerful because everything is new and you give yourself permission to screw up, to not know, and to ask questions. Sometimes if we enter a new arena as a master or an expert, we miss opportunities and details because we think we know it all.  

Understand your goals and intentions before you begin: Are you looking for a more relaxing class? Or are you looking for something physically powerful? Do you like a heated room where you'll sweat? Or is room temperature more suitable for you? There's nothing "better" or "worse" than the other. Choose something that you'll actually enjoy so you'll want to go back! I can't tell you how many times people hear that I'm a yoga teacher and respond with, "Oh I tried hot yoga once and hated it." Same! Although I practiced in heated rooms for many years in my 20s -- that's neither how I teach nor how I personally practice these days. Just like dating, this process takes a little trial and error... be patient, and take time to find a style and a teacher that aligns with your preferences.

Invest in a quality yoga mat and comfortable attire. These simple essentials can significantly enhance your practice by providing the right support and comfort. I will say, a quality mat with proper thickness is a good choice for beginners who may experience discomfort with wrists and knees when on the floor. You can find an Amazon link to my favorite mat (I've had mine for more than 15 years now) and a great travel mat that's lighter, foldable and perfect for vacations or retreats.

Don't be afraid to start slow. Begin with simple poses like Child's Pose (Balasana), Tree Pose (Vrikshasana) and Mountain Pose (Tadasana). As you become better acquainted with your body, you'll build strength and flexibility, and will gradually progress to more advanced postures like the Warrior series as well as sequences like Sun Salutations A and B. In my library of online classes, you'll find a section called Yoga Basics. I break down shapes for you to practice, with step-by-step instruction and demonstration.

Seek guidance from experienced instructors, either in-person or through virtual classes. As a seasoned instructor with 10 years of teaching, continued education, and more than 20 years of personal practice, this part is really important. A good teacher with strong knowledge of anatomy and physiology can offer personalized tips, correct your form, and create a supportive environment for your practice. Ask questions or read teacher bios before attending a class. How long has this person been teaching? What is their movement background aside from yoga? How long did they practice yoga before deciding to become a teacher? What types of training have they completed? If you're looking to start a yoga practice following pregnancy or injury, has the instructor either received specialized training in Prenatal yoga, or Yoga for Athletes, or have they themselves experienced an injury or pregnancy that qualifies them to teach you in this unique way?

Most importantly, approach yoga with an open mind and a gentle heart. Yoga is not about perfection. There is actually nothing to perfect. Once you master one pose or sequence, there will be something else to add or learn that will challenge you. This process is not about exercise-- or mastering physical shapes. Yoga is an all-encompassing journey of physical self-discovery and mental well-being. So, roll out your mat, take a deep breath, and embrace the journey!

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