When I think of doing yoga, I think of those people who are inverted with their legs like a pretzel moving fluidly through the movements. Yeah… not so much, especially if you’re a beginner like me & have zero strength or flexibility. I often found myself wondering “Is this right? Wait, what? Do I inhale now? Ahhhh!” I do take beginner classes & many of these tips were told to us by my teacher. These are also tips I have noticed during my daily sessions & tips from my father who has been doing yoga since forever. Hopefully some of these can help you in your yoga journey!
- Yoga is personal – If you are doing yoga, you will find yourself in unflattering positions with shaky arms, & seemingly pathetic compared to the guy next to you who obviously runs 25 miles a day and has been doing yoga since his birth. Forget about him. Forget about everyone if you’re in a class. Forget about what’s outside your window if you’re at home. Focus on you. Yoga is personal & it’s a perfect time to connect with your mind and your body. Listen to your body. Don’t worry about what anyone thinks. You’re not pumping iron in a gym full of other people pumping iron. You’re not racing that girl on the treadmill next to you. I used to be so conscious about how I looked, how my position was compared to the guy next to me, etc. but I discovered that fellow yogis don’t really care! They are the nicest and most forgiving people I have met. Now, obviously this depends on your studio, but still! If you’re taking a beginner class, just remember everyone is a beginner and has no idea what they are doing either!
- Always warm up – Never jump into more complex moves without loosening up your body first. Start with some neck rolls, some hamstring stretches, cat & cow stretches, & a basic (sun) salutation.
- Relax your eyes – I never knew what to do with my eyes, especially during a class. Sure they tell you to close them, but what if no one else does it? Remember, yoga is personal. So relax your eyes. Close them if you’re comfortable or obtain a “soft” focus.
- Breathe – Breathing is one of the most important things in yoga. Yoga isn’t just about flexibility and strength. It’s also a mental journey. Breathing is so important in yoga and breathing correctly is even more important. Exhale down dog. Inhale up dog. Exhaling and inhaling when you’re supposed to actually makes the moves so much easier (in my unprofessional opinion). Also, breathe out of your mouth! You get a much fuller breath.
- Slow down – As you go through the moves, go through them slowly. Make sure you feel your body & muscles as you pause during each position. Never rush through a sun salutation or a bow or any other positions. If you rush you could do some serious damage like pull a muscle.
- Pain is bad – If you’re in pain, stop. Yoga is not painful. Yoga is a process & a slow one at that. The key is comfort, but sometimes a slight discomfort just means you’re that much closer to touching your toes. I have horrible hamstrings so every move involving my hamstrings means I can definitely feel it. However, I am never in pain. Forget that whole “no pain, no gain” mumbo jumbo.
- Hold the pose – Yoga is slow. Many of the poses must be held for a couple seconds or minutes. Hold the pose long enough for you! If you can’t hold it for the full 60 seconds, hold it for 25 instead & work your way up to those 60 seconds. It’s all about you, remember?
- Create a space – Yoga is about you so create a space just for you where you can focus on you. Choose a quiet room or spot and make it yours! This is your go-to place every day and it should be a comforting, relaxing spot where you can just let life go for a moment. My yoga space is in my living room in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows so I can watch the sun wake up with me. I always ensure my space is clean & I often light a candle or two while I have coffee brewing in the kitchen.
- Do it daily – The key is to practice yoga daily, especially before you start your day. It’s the perfect way to loosen up your muscles, energize your mind, and place you in the best mood before tackling rush hour traffic! Also, in order to progress into those fancier moves, we have to limber up & that requires daily practices.
- Drink water – Keep your body hydrated even if you don’t feel like you sweated much at all. However, yoga is such a powerful exercise that you actually put your body through a lot! You’ve opened up your body so fill it with delicious water! Sometimes I like to add fresh mint leaves or a squeeze of lemon in my water.
If you’re a beginner or have been through this part of your yoga journey, feel free to share some of your favorite tips or tricks that helped you!