Updated: Apr 11, 2020
As featured in ETB Living:
If you have never done it before, best way to learn yoga is with a teacher, not a DVD, to prevent injuries. A qualified teacher will be able to physically assist you and assess your imbalances and weaknesses in the body. I always encourage students to take a few private classes to start for some specialized one on one attention that is focused on your unique body. It is a great foundation to get started and have your teachers complete attention.
Research studios around you. Most studios will offer the first class or week free, or at a substantially discounted price. Try different studios, different classes, different styles, and different teachers. In the same way not all personal trainers are a good fit for you, not all yoga teachers or styles will resonate with you. Pick a style or teacher that makes you feel safe, and makes your body feel good. Something that will make you want to keep going back for more. That’s when you know it’s a great fit.
For absolute beginners I suggest a gentle HATHA or YIN yoga class where the focus is holding the postures for longer periods of time, instead of a flow class where the emphasis is on continual movement. This will give you a better understanding of your body and an opportunity to really focus on breathing and lengthening your muscles. Don’t be shy and let your teacher know that it is your first time…guaranteed to get you more attention in class!
The same philosophy of “no pain, no gain” does not apply in yoga class! Do not work through pain! I repeat, do not work through pain! This is where injuries occur! If something does not feel right then put up your hand and the teacher will come over and correct your form, and/or give you a modification. Or simply come out of the posture, and rest, and then speak to the teacher after class. Yoga is about learning to honor and respect your body, and that starts with not pushing yourself beyond your capacity. This also means leaving your competitive nature at the door and forgetting about what everyone else is doing. We all have different bodies, shapes, sizes, limitations which means we are all going to do the poses differently. It doesn’t make it right or wrong. If you don’t want to hurt yourself, then listen to your body and if it tells you it’s had enough, then please listen. You should be walking out of every yoga class with a smile on your face! We all start at different levels and the paramount part is to just start wherever you are and remember it is a process that it is about progress, not perfection.