5 Yoga Tips Every Beginner Should Know

Yoga is having a serious moment, but if you have yet to attempt Warrior II or Cobra pose, taking your first yoga class can be a little intimidating. The good news is you don’t have to worry. There’s a reason everyone from your best friend to your coworker to your mother-in-law has hopped on a mat over the last few years. Yoga is a totally accessible way to stay fit, unwind and find harmony in both the mind and body. These five tips will have you feeling more comfortable before checking out a class.

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#1 Accept that you’re a beginner

There will always be more flexible, strong and experienced people in your yoga class. Remember: There is nothing wrong with being a beginner. Just like riding a bike, playing an instrument or driving a car, learning yoga takes time. It’s okay if your hips are still tight or you’re still confused about the postures after a few classes. Instead of focusing on what you can’t yet do, appreciate the subtle progress of your own practice and enjoy the mental and physical benefits while you learn.

#2 Find a good yoga teacher

Yoga apps and books are great additions to any home practice, but it is much easier and much more enjoyable to learn yoga with a real, experienced, qualified human being. A teacher’s ability to see you and respond to your postures is essential not only to properly learning the basics of yoga, but to building your confidence as a yogi as well. If you don’t vibe with your first yoga teacher, don’t worry. You’re not going to enjoy every teacher’s style. Try out a few yoga studios and instructors until you find the one that works for you.

#3 Breathe

It may seem silly that you’d forget to breathe, but we all do it. If you find yourself in an intense backbend or a challenging balancing pose, remind yourself to breathe! Breathing deeply in yoga can actually help you avoid injury and reduce stress levels. Breathe into your whole body in poses and relax. There is a lot to learn about conscious breathing in yoga, but as a beginner, just remember to do it. If you forget, your yoga teacher will remind you!

#4 Practice often

A regular discipline will reap more benefits. Even 15 minutes a day of a few well-chosen poses can be more beneficial than a weekly hour-long class at your local yoga studio. If you’ve had a particularly busy day, plan to get on your mat for just five minutes. More often than not, that five-minute session will turn into a 30-minute one. By practicing daily–even if just for a few minutes—you’ll keep your body warmed up and comfortable with your practice. Before you know it, you’ll be seeing the benefits in your flexibility, confidence and awareness.

#5 Modify postures for your body

Do you have tight hamstrings? Bend your knees in Downward-Facing Dog and any forward fold. Are your wrists tender? Skip Low Push up and move directly to Downward-Facing Dog from Plank. Whether you have a specific condition you need to consider, you’re injured or you’re just plain tired, there are ways to modify your yoga practice so that you still reap the reward of investing in yourself. Your yoga instructor should offer options for pose modifications, especially for the more challenging ones. If you’re unsure, ask your instructor for assistance.

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