Tips for Beginning Your Yoga Practice Journey

Tips for Beginning Your Yoga Practice Journey

Many of us are pursuing new fitness goals for the new year. 

Some people may be thinking about starting yoga but are afraid to jump in.  As a yoga instructor, I hear concerns about starting yoga like “I’m bad at yoga”, “I’m not flexible enough”, or “ I’m afraid to come to a class and not know what I’m doing”. 

Guess what? It’s really not possible to be bad at yoga unless you’re purposely trying! You also don’t need to be flexible to begin a practice, but will often find that you gain flexibility as you continue your yoga journey.

I’m here to offer some tips to build a yoga practice if it’s something you have been thinking about! 

Basic Yoga supplies 

Tips for Beginning Your Yoga Practice Journey- Yoga Equipment

Here is the basic equipment I recommend:

  • A supportive yoga mat. Make sure to get one that has a good grip so you’re not frustrated by sliding around. Manduka and Jade make great mats, but they are more expensive. Gaiam makes more affordable mats and I have students that have been happy with their performance. 
  • A strap (you can use a small hand towel or flexible belt instead)
  • Blocks (at least one, two is even better!).  The blocks can be used to help bring the floor closer or provide support in many ways, I think it’s always great to have them beside your mat, whether you are a first-time yogi or have been practicing for years
  • Comfy clothes that are easy to move in 
  • Small hand weights like those pictured above can be helpful in some poses if you have wrist pain, but definitely not required for yoga

Beginning a practice 

Many people are afraid to begin a yoga class because they’re afraid of showing up and embarrassing themselves.  I totally get it!  You can always start a practice at home to learn some of the poses and flows.  I enjoy Yoga with Adrienne.  She offers a lot of free videos on YouTube and her website.  If/when you feel ready to join a studio or take a class at your fitness club, try a few out to find what you like.  There is a wide variety of teaching styles out there; I feel it’s extremely important to find a teacher that you love and a place with a vibe where you can feel calm and relaxed. Some people find the music or atmosphere important.  Others look for an instructor with faster or slower flows depending on the class pace they prefer.

I also feel it’s important that you find an instructor with the proper training so that they can guide you properly and ensure you’re not injured.  Feel free to ask the instructor about their training.  The most common certification is through Yoga Alliance.   There is a 200-hour training and also a 500-hour training. 

Your first class 

I always recommend bringing your own mat to class.  There are often mats provided, but you will be way more relaxed if you aren’t worrying about if your borrowed mat is clean. When you arrive at your first yoga class, let the instructor know that this is your first time in a class.  They will appreciate knowing this, and it will help them ensure that you have a great class and feel included. 

In your first class,  know that some poses may feel awkward but nothing should ever hurt.  Ask your instructor about some options for resting poses if you want to take a break. I usually try to check in with students trying yoga for the first time after class to see how it went and answer any questions. If you find that some of the poses are really awkward or uncomfortable for you, let the instructor know after class.  They should be able to offer tips or modifications to help you. 

Remember, that everyone began a yoga practice for the first time at one point.  I’ve found that the yoga community is in general very welcoming to all who are interested in building a practice, no matter your previous experience or yoga goals. 

Namaste and shanti!

P.S. Author Elise teaches Yoga at Thew Brewing Company on Sundays at 10 am. Stop by to give her class a try! Details here.


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Elise has lived in the Cedar Rapids area since she was 6. She lives in Marion with her husband, Chris, and two kids, Avery and Maddux. An engineer from Iowa State by education, she currently works from home in logistics for General Mills, and she loves not having to commute which leads to more time with her family! She stays active by running daily (which allows for her daily audiobook/podcast fix!) and she teaches taproom yoga weekly at a local brewery. She loves coffee, wine, leggings, gardening, decorating/crafting/diy projects, Target, cooking, and is an avid bargain hunter!

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