Updated: Sep 8
10 tips for beginners starting yoga
Often people have told me I would like to do practice yoga, but they fear it’s too esoteric, too difficult, they think they are not flexible or strong enough, think it’s only for Hippies to do yoga etc. etc. – the list goes on. Let me assure you don’t have to be flexible, strong and a vegan to start with a journey of self-discovery and love to yourself and others. Of course, the constant marketing and sales efforts of not only yoga schools, but also banks, airlines etc. can put us off, we see lean bodies in Handstands or Headstands or other difficult postures, but this is not yoga (in my modest opinion), at least not for most people.
Here are 10 tips for beginners starting a yoga practice:
(this list was written spontaneously by myself, so if you can think of anything to add, please let me know).
1. Do some research. Go and try a few classes. Every teacher teaches differently and is at a different mature stage of his or her path. Who speaks to you? Who do you feel has integrity in action? Who do you feel comfortable within this personal discovery? Read about the experience of the teacher. Nothing wrong with a newly qualified teacher who has plenty of years behind them, but yoga teacher training have become a big profit for many schools and studios and often the quality of their training is poor.
2. The physical practice of yoga is only a small part of the whole philosophy around yoga, so does your teacher focus on this physical aspect? Often people say it’s not about looking good, it’s not about being flexible, but you see them in constant good-looking difficult postures (photoshopped pictures) on Instagram? I for myself need a teacher who is down to earth, does not confuse yoga is such with business and gives me more on a physiological level than only a good workout. Exercise can influence you on a physiological level and a yoga practice can make you strong and flexible, but depending on how it is taught also affect your emotions, sensitivity, nervous and other bodily systems.
3. Yoga is a kind of challenge to any cultural dogma, your perceived world and vision. It’s a path of self-inquiry and evolution step by step to be hopefully more content and loving. If you feel the practice makes you anything else but content, change practice. Begin where you are and be open-minded.
4. Be aware of your limitations and move with a feeling of wellbeing, rather than force. Any signs that you switch on your sympathetic nervous system (the flight and fight response), is a sign that you move away from “yoga”.
5. Be aware that most of us are not naturally flexible people anymore, we sit too much on chairs or stand still and don’t move fluidly enough, so bend your knees, use props and be safe (kind) to yourself. Don’t’ be stubborn. You will be surprised how many people I have observed bending, stretching too much and even thus I told them to bend knees or take a block, moving back into a potentially “dangerous’ posture again once my attention drifted to somebody else. Ultimately this care and kindness you will give to yourself, you will hopefully be able to extend to the people around you.
6. Listen to your body takes time. We are full of ignorance to what is happening and often unconsciously move other areas than being told when exercising. We aware that there exist associated movements, that is, if you raise your arms up be aware what happens in other parts of your body, such as e.g. the lover back. A good teacher will help you to awaken this awareness.
7. Don’t be put off by Sanskrit names and all the instructions. As mentioned before it takes time, it’s a step by step progression, be grateful for what you have learnt. Sometimes this wisdom comes spontaneously, and you will notice it, it feels good!! A release of tension, a clearer mind, more vitality etc. – however be patient and try not to overanalyse and therefore overstimulate yourself.
8. Often beginners and other practitioners breathe too much in class. Don’t copy!! In fact, be careful in our natural tendency to copy. Read about hyperventilation and hypoventilation and what it does to your brain. It really can change a lot of bad habits and increase the often-cited benefits of yoga if you focus on natural breath, especially in the beginning, before learning complicated pranayama (breath control) practices that may lead to over-breathing.
9. Be kind to your teacher. It’s a human being. Often being a yoga teacher means to struggle unless you are wealthy and making it to the next month. Don’t’ be needy and demanding. If you found a good teacher, show gratitude! Maybe outside classes, support your teacher by mentioning him or her, posting their retreats and workshops and recommend someone good to others. Don’t keep it for yourself! There are more and more teachers out there and often long experienced people are deciding to quit teaching.
10) Enjoy the beautiful art of yoga!
Have you got anything else to add? I will be interested to listen to your experience having gone to a yoga class and what you have experienced. Please share, comment and follow me on twitter or Facebook Thanks!