This blog was originally published at http://www.befitlondon.com/2018/01/16/yoga-tips-first-timers/
For lots of people, beginning yoga can be a daunting new step, but it definitely shouldn’t be! I often hear from friends or new faces in my classes “sorry I won’t be very good, I’m not very flexible!” – thankfully you’ll be pleased to hear that yoga is absolutely nothing to do with touching your toes or getting your leg behind your head, these happen to be great by-products of a regular yoga practise, and even then, if you never reach the toes, so what!
On a basic level, yoga is all about the breath work and this is what sets it apart from simply going to the gym or heading to gymnastics. So, if you can breathe, you can do yoga!
If you’d like to take the first steps into the world of yoga and finding out more, read on for my top 5 tips to finding joy and mental calm in a new yoga practise this year. I’d love to know how you get on! 🙂
1 - Ask for recommendations
Chances are you already know someone who’s a regular yogi or perhaps even a yoga teacher! Ask them for their honest opinion on which classes they like and if they can recommend any beginner friendly studios or teachers.
My personal recommendation would be to hit up a bikram yoga class, (that’s right, the hot yoga)! Before you write me off as a crazy woman let me explain! Although done in a hot room, the bikram sequence is 26 asana (that’s what we call the postures in our physical yoga practise) in the same sequence every week, with not a downward facing dog in sight (they can be quite tiring if you’ve never done them before). This means you can learn the sequence and quickly follow on from class to class! Teachers will always give lots of different levels and a good portion of the class is spent on the floor in a mini savasana (corpse pose where you rest on your back) in between! If it gets too much because of the heat it’s very much encouraged to spend the rest of the class lying down which means you can get used to the heat and have a glorious rest.
The added bonus of this is that when you then start at a regular ‘cold’ class, you’ll breeze through it without breaking a sweat! (Probably!)
Try: hot yoga 26 at Soma House, Spitalfields.
When I was starting on my yoga journey I found it really easy to begin to get a regular practise going by following a video every day or two, whether it was a 15 minute or 60 minute, perfect for when you don’t have time to head to a studio every day!
I also found learning the physical basics online super helpful, as there are dedicated videos for beginners, meaning you can learn some helpful instructions and alignment cues and then take your new found warrior-princess vibes to your next class!
Try: Yoga with Adrienne, she’s got an amazing array of friendly beginner level videos - I love her!
3 - Go solo!
Sounds counter-intuitive right?!
If you’re feeling nervous about heading to a class because you feel self conscious or worried about what other people will think about your ‘flexibility’, don’t be! I promise, no one is looking at you as everyone is focusing so much on their own movement and their own bodies! If you head with a friend who’s also starting out, the chances are you will end up watching each other and not fully letting yourselves go into the practise. So be bold, start solo! You may find it wonderfully liberating!
Try: Friday Mornings at Prana Yoga Space with me, everyone comes alone!
4 - Get to the front
Again, this sounds like a scary one to practise as you may be feeling self conscious and if you’re at the front everyone will look at you right?! Again, everyone will be eyes closed, focusing intently on hands and toes or eyes on the teacher! The closer you are, the better you can see the subtle physical points of alignment in each asana, such as the tilt of a foot towards the front in warrior 1. Teachers have to explain a lot so sometimes they will not be able to tell you absolutely every alignment so the best way to pick this up quickly is to have a great line of sight of them!
Try: get to the front at Be:FIT London in one of their incredible classes – tickets can be bought here!
5 - Try at least 5 different teachers or classes
Yoga is amazingly diverse with an incredible array of styles, branches and classes to explore. Classes range from the very fast and physical such as power yoga or a full ashtanga class, all the way through to the slower and more subtle forms of yoga such as yin and restorative. There’s something for everyone so if you don’t quite click with your first class, try a different type or a different teacher! Everyone’s teaching style is totally different so enjoy the variety on offer and shop around for a class you feel happy and empowered walking out of it!
Try: try out all the classes on offer at MoreYoga studios, now with 13 around London.
If you're new to yoga - I hope these tips will have been of help. It's never too late to start so no matter what your fitness level, give a class a go and you might be pleasantly surprised you'll find something you like!
Let me know how you get on! :D