As you can imagine, I'm a huge advocate of yoga for anyone at any fitness level and stage of life. Heck! I'm so passionate about it, I started a yoga company!
However, I might not be your stereotypical yogi. I eat meat. I'm nowhere near being a vegan. Gummy bears and other terrible junk food bring me immense joy. Basically, I don't take myself too seriously. And I believe with everything that I am, that yoga can be whatever you need it to be wherever you are physically, mentally, and spiritually in your life.
Yoga should be accessible; it shouldn't be some big mystical and intimidating experience for all the yoga novices and newbies out there.
There's a yoga style and level for anyone - young or old; super fit or super plump. We're real people, with real jobs, family, triumphs and tribulations. All on a path to find our yoga.
If you want to start doing yoga, just follow this simple advice for yoga newbies!
4 Ways to Find Your Yoga
Option 1: Let's begin with the easiest and most accessible option to get you started. If you're already a member of a fitness club/gym, check to see if they offer any yoga classes.
You’ll want to go for the classes that are titled/labeled level 1, beginner, gentle, etc. Stay away from intermediate and advanced options until you've been doing yoga consistently (at least 3 times per week) for about a month. You need time to get used to the terminology, the cueing, and putting your body into new and interesting positions.
This is a great way to get started, but keep in mind that not all gyms hire trained yoga teachers. Sometimes the regular fitness instructors (think body pump, kickboxing, etc) will be asked to step in to teach yoga.
It's fine to get started at the gym, but as you get more comfortable with the idea of yoga, you might want to move on to Option 2.
Option 2: If yoga classes at your gym/fitness center aren't an option or if you're ready for more variety in your yoga practice, definitely look up local yoga studios in your city and call them to ask about any introductory offers they have (i.e. one free week, first class free, 20 days for $20, free community classes, etc). That way you can make sure you like it before committing to a long-term (and often pricey) package.
Be sure to ask the studio what classes they offer for complete beginners with absolutely no yoga experience. You’ll want to make sure they have something that is accessible to you. Style names you should watch for are Hatha, Viniyoga, beginner vinyasa, restorative, and gentle.
Definitely avoid hot yoga (where the room is heated), Ashtanga, yoga sculpt, and other more advanced options until you've taken classes for a month or so and are more familiar with your ability level and common postures. Walk-in rates typically run about $15-25 per class depending on where you are in the world.
These two options are the best for beginners because with a real-life, in-person teacher you can get physical adjustments that help with your alignment and keep your body safe. You can also ask questions after class if anything is confusing.
Feel free to also let your teacher know that you’re new at this and if you have any injuries/aches/pains. They’ll look out for you and make sure to help you try variations of postures based on your ability.
Option 3: If the previous options aren’t really options for you (like when I lived in South Dakota and there was one yoga class per week an hour away) you can definitely look into, what I call, an online yoga studio.
This is the new big thing in yoga and there are a ton of them! These are great because if you’re a little intimidated by attending a class, you can do it in the comfort of your own home. There are a few that have great introductory rates or are completely free. I really love Yoga Download when I'm traveling and getting to a local studio doesn't fit my schedule.
- Yoga Download - FREE YOGA CLASSES!
- My Yoga Online
- My Yoga Works
- Yoga Vibes
- Do Yoga With Me
- Yoga Glo
You can also do an internet search for "online yoga" and you'll get a lot of results! Many of these have free intro periods (free month, 2 weeks, etc.) or deep discounts for new folks, and some are even free.
Just make sure to focus on the beginner classes so you can get a feel for yoga before attempting a handstand, backbend, or the splits. (I can only do one of these unassisted - so be gentle with yourself.)
Option 4: And if NONE of these options are quite up your alley, there are DVDs!
The yoga DVD I did religiously from home when I first started practicing in 2009 was Rodney Yee's Power Yoga - Total Body Workout. But don't limit yourself to that one option.
There are hundreds if not thousands out there. Check out the reviews on Amazon and go with a DVD that's meant for beginners.
And please try to steer clear of Jillian Michaels and the P90X yoga DVDS. Don't get me wrong - these are excellent fitness personalities and programs, but their yoga programs are a little hard to follow, more advanced, and make it really hard to breathe! And half of the yoga experience is all about breath.
A few notes about starting yoga:
- Be gentle with yourself. Like anything new, you're not likely to be a master the first several times you attempt a posture or a class. Yoga is not a one-time experience; it's a path, a journey. You'll grow and improve as you keep going back for more.
- Yoga is not a competition. Do not compare yourself to other people in the room. That girl who can put her foot behind her head while balancing her entire body on her forearms is not your competition. You have no idea if she was a gymnast back in the day, if she's been practicing for 25 years, and/or just blessed with insanely flexible hips. You only need to focus on where you are on your mat in that moment.
- Yoga is an individual experience. While a class might have 50 people in it all breathing in unison, it's still just you and your mat and the thoughts you're trying to master. It's probably the one hour where it's not only acceptable, but EXPECTED, that you be completely focused on yourself. Indulge in that.
Okay newbies, no excuses! Get out there and give yoga a try!
Good luck on your yoga journey. And let me know how you like your first few yoga experiences in the comments below. And if any other yogis have some advice out there for these yoga novices, please share below!
Welcome to the yoga addiction. ;)
Namaste - *Brooke
Brooke Roberts is the Founder and CEO of Yoga Travel Tree and was previously the Senior Vice President of GoAbroad.com. When she's not finding her yoga all over the world, you can find her at home hiking the Colorado Rockies in Colorado, fixing up old furniture, and eating lots of cheese. Yum...cheese.