Yoga: our tips for getting started
Nowadays, the word Yoga is heard everywhere and in every field. A traditional practice that dates back thousands of years, yoga is now known to all, and in particular much more for its postural aspect than for its wonderful spiritual benefits.
Yet there is more to yoga than just doing contortions on a yoga mat, or chanting the OM while sitting in the lotus position. Practising yoga is much more than that: it is about realising that you are more than just a physical, thinking shell, but a Being connected to others, to nature and to the Universe.
Whether you want to start practising yoga for purely physical or aesthetic reasons, or whether you need to find a way to be less stressed, you will find much more in yoga than you initially expected. To roll out a yoga mat for the first time is to embark on a wonderful journey of self-discovery, but also of the fabulous world around us.
In this article you will find our advice on how to get started in a healthy and safe way, so that you can move forward on this wonderful path of yoga.
1) Find the type of yoga that suits you
From traditional forms of yoga such as Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga, to more modern adaptations such as Power Yoga and Fitness Yoga, the range of yoga classes on offer continues to grow. With the modernisation and popularisation (sometimes to the extreme) of the practice, there is now something for everyone, much to the dismay of purists. But whether you decide to follow the traditional path of yoga or whether your desire is purely physical or aesthetic, the impetus remains the same: yoga calls to you and by discovering it you will inevitably participate in making this world (but also your own inner world) much better.
First of all, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor’s advice, especially if you have a particular pathology or pain. He or she can advise you on what you can and cannot do.
Then, to find the course that suits you, ask yourself what your initial intentions are.
Do you want to reduce stress, soothe yourself or treat a recurring backache? Go for gentle yoga such as Yin Yoga or Hatha Yoga.
Do you want to strengthen your body while loosening up? Choose a dynamic yoga such as Vinyasa Yoga, Power Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga.
Do you want to discover your inner world and develop your spirituality? Choose Kundalini Yoga or a very traditional type of yoga such as Hatha Yoga.
If you would like to know more about the different types of postural yoga practice available to you, please see our previous article: “Which yoga is right for me? The list is not exhaustive, as new courses sometimes combining several physical activities are created each year. You are bound to find a yoga class that suits you 🙂
2 ) Try out sessions and start with a beginner or all-level yoga class
There are now many free and paid video courses available on the internet or through applications. You can find very good beginner’s classes online, but the best way to get started is to try a “real” class. Starting with a yoga class with a teacher who can correct you if necessary will give you a healthy start without the risk of injury and will also give you a good feel for yoga.
Choose a class for beginners, or level 1 or any level. This will allow you to discover the basic postures, but also to apprehend the meditation and breathing exercises (pranayama) essential to any yoga class, while being relaxed and having the feeling of being in your place. On the other hand, if you start with a class that is too advanced, you may not understand some of the concepts of yoga or be able to perform the postures on your yoga mat and therefore feel a sense of failure or even not enjoy the practice.
All studios, gyms and yoga teachers offer free or paid trial sessions. This is especially true on sunny days when the weather allows you to practice outside. Take the opportunity to try out different places and types of yoga to find what suits you best. Don’t hesitate to think outside the box by trying different practices. Listen to your intuition and set out on a journey of discovery, often beautiful surprises await you. In any case, don’t limit yourself to your feelings when you first try. If the experience did not go as well as you expected, it is simply because it was not the right course and/or the right time, and it would be a pity to remain on a feeling of “failure”. Don’t worry, you’ll feel from the first try if you are in the right place or not 🙂
3 ) Find the yoga teacher who inspires you
Whether it is a real classroom session or a video class, the role of the yoga teacher is paramount. All teachers have a different way of teaching, depending on their training and experience. Teaching yoga is not just about dictating a way to perform a posture on a yoga mat and correcting the student if he or she is out of place. It is about transmitting a real philosophy of life, sharing the tools that allow students to make small transformations in themselves that are conducive to their well-being, not only physically but also psychologically, emotionally and energetically.
Some teachers will focus their classes on the postural side, others on breathing and meditation, or on spirituality and philosophy of life. Whatever the case, each yoga teacher is a good teacher, as long as he or she transmits with the heart in a concern for sharing, for the elevation of his or her students, but also for their physical and psychic well-being.
This is why it is wise to try different classes in different places. Because finding a teacher who inspires you will allow you to abandon yourself to the practice in all confidence and to walk healthily and serenely on this new path which is offered to you.
4 ) Practice yoga at your own pace and at your own level
In the practice of yoga we leave aside the notions of challenge and performance. The important thing is to listen to your own body and inner world in order to identify what you really need. When you unroll your yoga mat, it is as if you create a transparent bubble around yourself in which you are completely connected and available to yourself. A bubble in which you are also fully aware of what is going on outside but without impacting on how you feel in your bubble; confident, safe and in tune with yourself.
When practising yoga, respect your own pace. Don’t try to do too much and don’t rush through it. It is your ego that tells you to always go further or do better than others. You, your inner self, takes the time to discover and appreciate each posture. The more you listen to what is going on in your inner world, the more you will intuitively know what is good for you. So practice reasonably, especially when you are just starting out. But be regular if you want your practice to evolve. Know that it is better to practice a little every day than to practice too intensively once a week.
Don’t rush into advanced classes, even if you are physically able. Enjoy learning the basics of yoga, both postural and spiritual. This will allow you to practice and evolve in a healthy way according to your needs, and to build a solid foundation. Similarly, when you are placed in a posture, do not try to go too far or you will injure yourself. As is often said in yoga, some postures can be unpleasant but never painful. So always listen to how you feel when you practice on your yoga mat. You will intuitively know what you can and cannot do.
5 ) Get your own yoga props
- Whether you practice at home, in a yoga studio or in a gym, it is a good idea to invest in some equipment. First of all, for reasons of hygiene, it is preferable that you bring your own yoga mat when you go to class. Indeed, yoga is practiced barefoot and it is not uncommon to sweat during a class, especially when it is a dynamic yoga or hot yoga. To avoid collecting germs from your fellow yogis, even though yoga is all about sharing, don’t hesitate to get your own equipment. In addition to the hygienic aspect, it is nice to practice on a yoga mat that is adapted to our practice, on which we feel comfortable and confident, but also whose design reflects our personality. In addition to the yoga mat, other yoga accessories can be of great help when you are just starting out.
Here is a list of yoga accessories you may need to start yoga:
The yoga mat: it must be adapted to the type of yoga that you practice but also to your regularity. Moreover it must correspond to your needs. Do you practice gentle yoga and have sensitive joints? Choose a thick mat with a microfibre cover. Do you practice dynamic yoga and need to hold on to your mat? Choose a dense mat with a firm grip such as cork or PU. To be sure to choose the right mat, read our previous article “How to choose your yoga mat”.
Yoga blocks : also called a yoga block, this is a rectangular cork or foam brick that will help you in the postures, especially when you lack the flexibility to do them, and limit the risk of discomfort or injury. It is best to get two bricks so that you can, for example, place one hand on each brick to raise your support and be more comfortable in a posture.
The yoga strap : This is a kind of belt that will also help you gain range of motion in the postures by limiting the risk of discomfort or injury. The yoga strap acts as an extension of your arms, especially when you lack the flexibility to perform certain postures. It also helps to support and hold certain parts of the body in order to release it completely, which is a great help in postures that require optimal relaxation.
The meditation cushion : also called “zafu”, it is a thick and dense round cushion on which you can sit to meditate. The zafu brings a real comfort at the time of meditations because it makes it possible to raise the seat and of this fact it rectifies your spinal column. You will be able to meditate in a sitting position while limiting the pains in the back and the hips. It is also used in many soft postures in order to bring a support and comfort to certain parts of the body to be able to release them well.
6 ) Discover, explore and awaken your curiosity
Nowadays, we have so much content at our fingertips that it would be a shame to miss out on it. Whether or not you have found the right course, teacher and venue, you can explore new horizons. There are many books, magazines, websites, blogs and YouTube channels with wonderful content on yoga and all other related topics. Don’t limit yourself to one teacher’s view of the practice, even if that teacher has a wealth of knowledge. You will quickly discover that yoga is much more than just a postural practice on a yoga mat, but a vast universe with endless resources.
You now have all the keys to a good start in yoga. If however you have the slightest doubt or a question, do not hesitate to contact us, we will be happy to help you. In the meantime, have a nice discovery!
Enjoy your reading,
Team ▼MYSTIQ YOGA