How To Start Yoga
Everyone comes to yoga in their own way. It could be from hearing through a friend how it can help you de-stress, reading an article about the physical benefits, or admiring a cool pose on instagram. Whatever the way, if you're even a tiny bit interested - it's worth giving a try!
For me, it was 5 years ago now when I was going through a challenging change in my life that I decided to get a into pass for a Bikram studio. I had loved the feeling of being in a sauna so why not try yoga in a heated sauna room, right? Honestly, it really didn't feel like the best idea during that first class when every inch of my body was soaked in sweat before even beginning the first pose but hey, it grew on me. I wish back then that I had someone to give me a bit of advice as a beginner so here are a few tips I can recommend on getting started.
Flexibility isn't necessary.
Far too many times I hear from someone that they're nervous to try yoga because they're really not flexible. This is like telling someone you can't swim because you don't have a pool or ocean. Each class is designed to increase your flexibility so by going that is what will naturally start to happen. If you're thinking that others will look at you weird if your heels can't touch the ground in down dog then I can already tell you that everyone is in their own world during class so as much as you might think they're going to be looking you - their mind is elsewhere. I also wasn't able to touch down anywhere near my toes when I first started and I'll admit it felt intimating to be in a class full of bendy yogis then. It was a powerful lesson that was showing itself for me to learn though about keeping my focus on my own mat, letting the ego go of how things 'should look', and to accepting myself whole as I am in each day.
Start with the basics.
Nowadays there are endless brands selling a myriad of yoga clothing, props, mats - you name it. It's all really nice but can quickly add up for your wallet.If you want to buy some then go for it but don't feel you 'need' to get all of the top gear straightaway. You can get a basic mat for 10 dollars/euros or less at a sports shop and many studios also rent out mats. All you really need is yourself, some comfortable & light clothing, and a willingness to try something new.
Experience different teachers and studios.
Finding your way in yoga can be similar to picking out a subject at school to study. You have to try many different things before you find the fit for you. It could be that you instantly find that in your first experience but if not, don't be discouraged. There are so many different styles, teachers, and studios in the yoga world so take your time to see what's out there to find what resonated with you personally. Most studios and teachers offer trial classes which are perfect for this.
Try an online class.
If you're not feeling comfortable to get into a class just yet, online classes can bring you some ease. I personally love using platforms such as oneOeight and YogaWorks to practice at home whenever there's not enough time for a full class or just to get some inspiration.
Take a private lesson.
While it might be more expensive, private lesson are always helpful and give a more intimate approach to your needs. Especially in the beginning, it can do wonders and will bring you an understanding & confidence in your practice. Find a teacher that resonates with you and ask about how about private sessions. If it's something that feels right for you then go for it! A good private will be completely focused on your needs and level as an individual so it's helpful to see that the teacher is putting this first.
Pick up a book.
Yoga is so much more than the physical practice. Getting to know the background & philosophy is honestly like opening a box of chocolates and it helps give context & clarity to all the other parts of yoga. It can help you understand why we are doing the movements we are doing, why we are doing yoga, and countless other fascinating things related to this world.
Some I can highly recommend for getting started are 'Yoga Mind, Body, & Spirit' by Donna Farhi and 'Heart of Yoga' by T. K. V. Desikachar.
Join the community.
In the end, the community is a huge part of what yoga is all about: creating that oneness. No matter where you are in the world, there's a high chance you can find a Facebook group of yogis in your area, which you can join. Ask what events are going on at your local studios. Ask in your community center. There's usually a ton you will be able to find, especially in the warmer months when everyone starts doing yoga outdoors. You might be surprised at how many yogis you can meet from all different backgrounds and experiences so don't be shy. ;)
Commit yourself to attending classes a few times a week, especially in the beginning will help you to really experience the benefits of yoga in your body and mind. Sometimes especially the first class or two might feel overwhelming but give it a real chance before completely throwing it out.
I hope this helps you get started in your own yoga journey. The most important through all of this is to just have fun with it! Even if it's completely out of your comfort zone, it's worthwhile exploring and seeing where it leads you.