Learning Yoga from the ground up is a daunting enterprise, especially if you’re not quite sure what you’re getting into. The beginning stages should be focused on learning what works for you, and then tailored to your future goals. So, if you want to know how to get started, read on and we’ll break it down into small, manageable steps.
Identify Your Goals
We all have different reasons for yoga, but most people are centered around physical fitness in some way. There are people who yearn to hold the complex, advanced poses seen sometimes and others who simply want to stay in shape with less impact.
Your specific goals are going to be the focus in the long run. In the beginning, any class and a bit of practice will do but a long-term goal or two is the key to success.
Lower back pain? Try poses that assist in stretching and strengthening the muscles around the spine.
Weight loss? A hot yoga class may be in order, creating a great environment to shed a few pounds.
Mental clarity? Yin Yoga may be exactly what you’re looking for. The philosophy is a bit different but it’s focused on relaxing the mind in addition to the body.
Identify them soon after you start, if you haven’t already. Yoga routines are great, but it’s chasing personal goals in a personal way that makes the difference between “this is fun” and “this is life-changing.”
If you just want to start and aren’t sure where you’re headed, that’s okay too! Try starting in a class and learning what you want to do in the future!
Learn the Sun Salutation First
You can actually start right now.
The Sun Salutation is an ensemble of different basic poses, patched into a flowing routine that’s meant for daily use. The poses leave room for improvement as you advance as well, making it an ideal warm-up for any yoga practice.
The ideal is to eventually be able to do 10 rounds of Sun Salutations without stopping or becoming tired. You’ll also learn some basic pranayama, or breathing techniques, that will help you advance as time goes on.
It’s easy to find a video showing the process, and all you need is a soft surface and a few square feet of room.
The Sun Salutation includes many poses you’ll learn in a basic class as well, so you won’t be too far behind if you go down that route. Add in that there are advanced variations of many of the poses it contains and you have a clear winner.
If you don’t have a set routine just yet, you may find that going through the Sun Salutation in the morning gives you a big jump on what you’ll be doing in the future.
Consider an In-Person Class
Learning the basics to form a solid foundation in yoga is important. YouTube videos and careful study of others can get you pretty far, but it’s no match for in-person training.
Many instructors have basic classes, and going to a few of them can help you improve rapidly.
Hatha Yoga is often the most effective route for those looking to create a personalized routine. It’s the essential foundation of “yoga for health” and lacks the need for most external trappings. It can be either hard or easy depending on your needs.
Yin Yoga, on the other hand, has a different, easier approach. It’s often combined with other activities but at its core, it’s a very soft and relaxing Yogic approach.
You may end up taking regular classes, or just learning what you need and moving on. The choice is up to you, but most people will progress at a more rapid pace if they spend some time learning from a professional instructor.
In-person classes can be found almost everywhere. If you aren’t sure where the nearest class is, it’s only a Google search away. You may be surprised at your options even if you live in a fairly small area.
Create a Regular Routine and Adapt
Once you’ve established the bedrock of good yoga technique, you’ll want to create your own routine to adapt to your goals.
Stick with your routine, persistence will change the outcome in a big way. You should seek to keep any sort of exercise regular, of course, but it’s key to maintaining traits like flexibility which are in short supply in some forms of workout.
Stick with the routine, but a large part of yoga is learning from your body. Most people will develop advanced body awareness as time goes on which presents a unique opportunity for the yogi.
Use what you’ve learned to create a routine that focuses on your goals. While your yoga should be regular, your routine may change from time-to-time. Some people focus on what they wish to do for the day, while others attune themselves to a few goals and spread out their routines.
More importantly, you need to be able to adapt your routine instead of letting it stagnate. If a pose is causing pain and is performed correctly, you may need to change or remove it.
The beauty of yoga lies in creating a routine that speaks to your body and mind, rather than mindlessly following the program plan of another. As time goes on your yoga independence can lead to some astounding changes in your body. It’s just a matter of finding the right path to get there.
Never Stop Learning
When you begin learning about yoga at the start of this road, you may find it confusing and obtuse. For a beginner, the important thing is to start small and work towards your own goals. There are many roads to each, but often it’s the personal journey that keeps a would-be yogi thriving.
It’s simple: learn, listen, implement. It’s just a matter of beginning!