A reader who is new to yoga reached out to me and was very interested in how to begin practicing. I understand it is not necessarily an easy thing to dive into since it is still pretty foreign to us. However! This is what I really pride myself on, helping new people navigate and get the results they are looking for as soon as possible. This way they have not only a good practice but a profound one as well. Please note yoga is not a one time thing that fixes everything. It is a life long philosophy and discipline.
Here were his questions:
How often do I do it?
Often people say once a week, but if you want results it has to be twice a week.
My advice for beginners is take a private lesson. That way they have one on one time with a teacher who can fully explain to them and guide them through an individual practice. If you are serious and want life lasting results, one lesson is a great foundation! It beats years of going to class clueless (like I did!) Many teachers will come to your house- or call a local studio and ask if anyone gives private lessons there. I also recommend Hatha Yoga (which is a wide variety of poses and breathing techniques and a grounded practice that can take you into the higher realms of consciousness) it also really strengthens the mind body and will. It is what I teach and having tried other methods I still recommend this to beginners. So make sure when calling a local studio, that they offer Hatha Yoga. Here is what look for in a teacher:
A 500 hour Teacher Training Certification* This would be a great teacher to hire for a lesson because they have had extensive training
A 200 hour Teacher Training Certification is next best and probably offers a lower rate.
If there aren’t any local teachers to hire, begin to take once a week a public beginner yoga class, quickly bump it up to two as soon as possible to double the speed of your understanding/results. Remember yoga is not about the poses. It’s about finding who you truly are beyond who you think you are.
How long should the session be?
Private and public are usually an hour, I say start there. Don’t overwhelm yourself with longer practices. *I also wouldn’t recommend hot yoga to start. The heat can be distracting.
Some of my clients truly prefer a 45 minute session and I don’t push it. The philosophy of yoga is “meet yourself where you are.” Meaning accept that you may not be able to focus for a long period of time.
Can I do it in my house or do I have to go somewhere?
Private lessons in the house are nice because it is an environment you are comfortable in, public classes may seem a little distracting but that is because you are not use to shutting off your senses and really focusing inside yourself. That comes pretty quickly when you train yourself to “observe your thoughts” suddenly no one in the room exists. The sooner you get to group classes the less distracted you’ll become. They usually offer yoga in a park as well.
As far as doing it from the house check out the answer to the question below.
Are there DVDs I can buy and watch to follow along?
Here I will defer to the schooling that gave me my highest 500 hour teacher training certification: https://www.myyogaworks.com
They have online videos and tutorials and I have had many trainings with many of the teachers and they are very credible as well as incredible people. This also gives you a nice break down of yoga and in a private setting.
Even if you want to do online yoga, I still highly recommend a private lesson first (if available).
Are there books to read?
Almost endless. But to get you started here are a few I suggest:
The Little Book of Yoga– It’s practically pocket sized and the most SIMPLE break down of where yoga comes from, as well as breathing techniques and a majority of popular poses. I LOVE IT! I bring it with me to class and use it for a reference afterwards when I take notes.
Light on Yoga- I think nearly a million copies of this book have been sold. It is a much more in depth version of the book listed above. Written by B.K.S. Iyengar, for whom hundred of Iyengar insitutes all over the world are named. If this is too much too soon, then stick with the first book.
Autobiography of a Yogi– This is the story about a guy from India who came to the U.S. about 100 years ago. He is an integral part of the spiritual revolution in the West.
My advice: Create a little bookshelf/shrine of these books and perhaps place a candle or a buddha it is important to have a meditation station in your house. An area designated to your spiritual growth is a helpful reminder to do it daily.
Should I be making a yoga journal?
YES. I believe passionately in having a yoga journal. Although it may seem like a nuisance or additional work, the progress directly relates to the progress your making towards your inner self. It is really great to have a journal. This is serious work and watching your journey and the depth of the practice unfold over time is a beautiful thing to witness.
I use The Yoga journal.
The Yoga Journal is a dynamic 3-in-1 tool for yoga lovers of all skill levels and style preferences. Part tracker, part journal, and part reference guide, it offers everything today’s yogi needs to bring the benefits of yoga off the mat and into their daily lives.
I hope this outlines a successful strategy to beginning your yoga journey and puts everything within reach. Even if you choose to do just one of the things (take a lesson, read a book, watch online or go to class) you are doing yoga!
May this journey help you soar ever higher.