Whether it’s for meditation, strength, flexibility, zen, or overall wellness, yoga is the ultimate for restoring your body. But if you are a beginner, it’s hard to know where to get started. This is a quick and easy guide to cover your basics. Yoga may look intimidating when you see the experts practice it, but don’t let your fear of the unknown stop you from achieving your own wellness goals. Let’s take those yoga pants where they have never been before!
I’ve been taking yoga on and off for 15 years. I never really stuck with it long enough to learn any more than the basics. I’ve taken classes and I’ve practiced yoga in my home. My form is atrocious. But lately, the more I practice yoga, the more it speaks to me. I’m realizing that 40-something muscles and joints aren’t the same as 20-something muscles and joints. I know people use yoga for meditation and breathing, but for me, the stretching is imperative. Despite being a fair-weather Yogi, I still get intimidated when I jump back into it.
Will you will join me as I step onto the yoga mat to get started again?
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Obviously, if you are just starting out, joining a yoga studio or reputable yoga class is ideal. You will have a live instructor to watch over you and to help you get into the poses and perfect your form. According to Michelle Mirkovich, LA Celebrity Yoga Instructor, “Commit to at least five classes. Everyone is going to feel lost in the beginning – learning yoga poses is like learning a new language.” Try and find a smaller class where the instructor is hands-on (literally) to help you with your poses and form.
If you can’t commit to a class, don’t let that stop you from learning the basics. Try and take at least several classes before you practice at home. Yoga is similar to walking in that the initial investment is pretty minimal. Mirkovich advises to “invest in a good mat. I always tell my students, you wouldn’t want to run a marathon in a pair of Keds. A good mat is your foundation and well worth the investment.” Remember, the mat is going to feel a little sticky, to help stabilize you during your poses.
If you do end up practicing yoga at home, you will want an optimized space. I carved out a nook in our bedroom. The yoga mat gets rolled up when I’m finished.
I use a picture frame holder to hold my iPad and stream some free YouTube videos. Look for some highly recommended DVD’s or videos recommended for beginners.
Poses for Beginners
PLEASE do NOT copy my form! I’m getting back into practicing yoga, and my form is atrocious! Rather than giving you stock pictures of yoga perfection, I wanted to stand with you in solidarity. Here’s the thing… I am putting it all out there to encourage you that you don’t need to be perfect when you start. You won’t be. It’s called practice for a reason, right? After seeing these pictures, I know exactly what I need to do to improve – especially Downward Dog, it’s more like Round Hound.
Mirkovich encourages you to “concentrate more on connecting the breath to the movement than getting the position ‘right.” Connecting breath and movement will develop focus, concentration, and awareness.” Despite practicing yoga on and off for 15 years, I had no idea what she was talking about until she showed me.
This is one of my favorite poses to stretch out my back. For years, I’ve always called it Cat Pose, and when writing this article, I realized this pose was actually Cow Pose. (Mirkovich agreed this is one of the most common mix-ups).
Supposedly, the Legs Up the Wall Pose is one of THE most restorative poses. I had my doubts, but when I tried it for the first time, I was hooked. I like using a pillow to support my back.
Finally, a great pose for balance is the Tree Pose. This pose is extremely challenging for me, but I love a good challenge, and strive to hold the pose longer, and to actually place my bent leg and knee in the proper position some day.
I love to wear my yoga pants pretty much everywhere. These super comfortable and fashionable yoga pants from prAna are perfect on the mat and out on the town!
3. Proper Clothing
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Basic Yoga Vocabulary
As nervous as I am to try new poses, I think the most intimidating part about starting Yoga is learning the new vocabulary. Here are a few basic words to get you started.
Asana (ah-san-ah) – a yoga pose.
Chakra (sha-kra) – energy center.
Namaste (nah-mah-stay) – a greeting or salutation, usually to end the class.
Om (ohm) – a mantra during meditation
Prana (prah-nah) – energy or life force
Savasana (sah-vah-sah-nah) – corpse pose, usually the last one in class where you lay flat on your back and perfectly still.
Yogi or Yogini (just like the bear) – someone who practices yoga.
The final piece of advice is something that Mirkovich and I encourage you to think about when you are getting started, “Be gentle with yourself and the learning process.” Isn’t that what yoga is all about?
Connect and Share
What about you? Do you practice yoga? What is your experience like?
Love hugs, and Namaste.
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