15 Essential Yoga Tips For Beginners

Are you keen to get started with Yoga but don’t quite know where to begin?  

Check out 15 essential Yoga tips for beginners to help you make the right decisions from the outset. From finding your “why”, choosing the right Yoga style, to deciding whether you will practice in class or online, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s move straight on to these Yoga tips for beginners.

1. Finding Your “Why”

Firstly, what is it that attracts you to Yoga?  Is it because a friend is into it or you have read much positive about it?  Have you see a class at the gym and thought you should really give it a try?

Secondly, what is it that you want to get from Yoga?  More fitness and flexibility? Better physical, emotional and mental balance?  Peace of mind?  A like-minded community?

Try and find your “why” early on.  If you need encouragement later on, you can then go back and check out what got you going in the first place.

Just in case you are wondering what the actual benefits of Yoga are,  read our article “Why Yoga Feels So Good: 10 Great Reminders” to find some answers that will contribute to your “why”.

You may be surprised by just how awesome the benefits of Yoga truly are.

2. Assess Your Abilities and Limitations

Most of the photographs you see out there are of trim Yogis performing seemingly impossible poses effortlessly.

We don’t realize it’s only through long practice (but sometimes also through the advantage of youth) that makes it possible to master such advanced poses.

In fact, most Yoga students reside somewhere between the beginner and intermediate experience levels – with modest levels of fitness, strength and flexibility.  Therefore, you are definitely not on your own!

The reality is that everyone has to start from somewhere for a new type of physical exercise, and slowly build up.  It’s no different whether you choose to do Yoga, or whether you start playing soccer or plan to run a Marathon.

Physically speaking, the key aims of Yoga are to build strength, flexibility and balance.  As we tend to overestimate our own abilities at times, it is tempting to start with a Yoga class for intermediate or even advanced practitioners.

However, it is also quite easy to overdo it, pull a muscle or aggravate an injury, and end up with early disappointment and perceived failure.

3. Be Honest With Yourself

So: be honest to yourself about what your abilities and limitations are.  Have you got a knee or shoulder injury/issue?  Have you got particularly tight hamstrings or hip joints?  Is your back giving you problems?

Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s what you learn on the way down.  Jigar Gor

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How fit and flexible am I?
  • What is my fitness and endurance like?
  • What about my ability to balance?
  • Can I get down on the ground and up again?
  • Do I have any current injuries and or weak/limited areas in the body?

Try neither to overestimate nor underestimate your abilities or limitations – honesty is key.

That way, you can make sure you are going to have a great experience and avoid any unnecessary injury.  Then, you can start in a place that is comfortable for you and progress at a pace that is sustainable in the long term.

4. Choose A Yoga Style That’s Right For You

You will be surprised at the many styles of Yoga out there – it is definitely not anymore a matter of “one fit for all”!  Just as well – that will give us choices.

Over the last 50 years or so, much thinking and creativity have led to innovation and new Yoga schools throughout the eastern and western world.

Choosing the right Yoga style for you is one of the key beginning tips for Yoga.

New Yoga students definitely need to do a little research to make sure they don’t end up in a Yoga practice that will be too overwhelming.  Check out our article that explains the different Yoga styles to get a bit more depth in this area.

In addition, our article “finding the right type of Yoga” gives you a fun option to arrive at a good decision.

As a general guide, as a beginner Yogi, it’s always best to choose a Yoga style that will enable you to grow into a practice at your own pace.

Look out for Yoga classes that are:

  • for beginners
  • have a “slow” or “gentle” tag
  • described as Hatha, Yin, Restorative or slow flow Vinyasa classes.

5. Yoga At Home Or In A Class?

Next, you will have to make a decision about whether you want to do online or and live Yoga classes.  This is a very personal and practical choice.

This Yoga tip is a bit more elaborate.

Your location will be the first factor to consider – there may be no available Yoga classes in the vicinity.  Timing will be the next factor – a live Yoga class has to fit in with your schedule of work and other home commitments, whatever they may be.

Your personality type will be another:  are you the social extrovert who is happy to spontaneously join a class of strangers and feel OK?  Or are you a private, more introvert person who finds the same scenario an ordeal?

There are many pros and cons to online and live Yoga classes, and here are just a few:

Online Yoga

This means in your time, at your (or any) place, at your pace.  Wear whatever you feel like – including your pajamas!

Whatever your style of Yoga you are interested in will be available on the web.  In addition, you get access to some of the most respected Yoga teachers in the world.

Live Yoga Class

In a live Yoga class,  you will have a qualified teacher by your side who will be able to point out any potential errors before they become habits.  They can also give great tips on how to work around existing strains and injuries so that you don’t hurt yourself.

You get the encouragement and companionship of your class.  Attending a live class often also engenders a greater commitment – you don’t want to let anybody down, including yourself.

Whatever your final choice is, make sure you check in with Yoga studios and/or teachers before class to make sure that it is fact suitable for you, or “whizz” through an online video on Youtube before you start to check whether it is really doable to avoid early disappointment.

6. Where To Find Yoga Videos Online

If you want to get started quickly, the web has a wide range of videos on offer for Yoga for beginners, many of them free.

Doing Yoga at home for a while before you join any classes is a great way to get immersed and learn about Yoga quickly.  This will allow you to build some confidence and prevent any early injuries and disappointments.

YouTube, in particular, is a veritable gold mine for amazing free Yoga videos – although you will often have to put up with a short ad at the beginning of the video.  

This seems justified, given the amount of time and effort different Yoga teachers invest in designing and producing these videos.

Yoga with Adriene, Melissa West Yoga, Yoga TX and Psychetruth are just a small selection of different and outstanding Yoga video bundles you can find on YouTube.

In addition, you can join a wide range of Yoga membership sites and apps that each offer 100s of videos for all levels and types of Yoga practice.  We will discuss this more in a separate post.

7. Choosing A Good Yoga Teacher

Your Yoga teacher can make all the difference to the success of your Yoga practice, whether you practice at home or in a class.

A Yoga teacher is very personal choice, depending on your personality and needs.  If you do live classes, make sure you talk to your Yoga teacher about what your abilities and needs are, so that she/he can make allowances for you.

Read our article about the “10 Qualities Of a Great Yoga Teacher” to get a better idea of what questions you should ask yourself and of your prospective Yoga teacher.

8. What To Wear

First off – you don’t need to have all the “right” gear to get started with Yoga!  There can be a bit of pressure to buy up large at the outset, but that is truly not necessary.

You can start with any comfortable, breathable clothing you have in your closet right now.

The only thing you need to bear in mind is that clothing should not be too skimpy lest it might expose body parts you’d rather keep private!  It also should not be too loose so that it will stay in place when you bend down or lift your legs.  And lastly, it should be able to absorb any sweat and keep you as warm/cool as needed.

Of course, if you are into it, there is absolutely stunning Yoga clothing available these days, and the choices are wide.  But that can wait until you know for sure that Yoga is for you.

9.  What Equipment Do I Need?

While you have to think about Yoga equipment, again you don’t need a Yoga mat or any other Yoga equipment straight off.

You can start off with a blanket, towel and pillows at home, or ask for/lease a mat and other necessary equipment at a Yoga studio.

If you want to find out a bit more about Yoga equipment, make sure you read our guide on Essential Equipment To Get Started In A Yoga class and take it from there.

10. Food and drink

Make sure that you don’t have a full stomach when you plan to do Yoga – it will be just too uncomfortable.  Give yourself a good 1.5-2 hours after a proper meal before doing Yoga.

But have some small snacks handy which you could easily eat before or after a Yoga class, such a piece of fruit or a few nuts, or a protein bar.

And lastly, make sure you have plenty of water with you to hydrate before and after your Yoga session – it will make you feel much better.

11.  Set An Intention

Instead of just doing a Yoga class without any prior thought – think about the value of setting an intention before you start practicing.

Subconsciously, you will then give your practice a purpose that will last throughout the session without too much effort.

For example, an intention could be “today I eat mindfully” or “I am peaceful” – whatever it is that would like to change or create at this very moment.

Setting an intention will elevate your Yoga practice to a new and more conscious level.  Observe yourself and see what changes will occur.

12.  Don’t Compare Yourself

Yoga is a personal experience and it’s best to stick to your own mat.  Don’t worry if the person next to you delves deeper into a pose or stretches that much further.

More than likely, they have practiced much longer, are considerably younger or naturally very flexible.  Whatever, just don’t worry about it.

Be your own Guru and just focus on yourself and your journey of development, even if it is minuscule.

Most importantly, don’t be pushed into any poses and practices that are not right (yet) for your body.  Ask a Yoga teacher for appropriate adjustments and modifications, choose an alternative pose, or just sit it out quietly and breathe.

13.  Just Breathe

This is a key Yoga tip for beginners.  The breath is at the very heart of Yoga – it is the one element that guides us consistently through our practice.

When we breathe deeply, our body and mind can’t help but calm down, allowing those stress hormones to subside.

Even if we do nothing else but breathe consciously, the benefit is already huge for our mental and emotional balance.

“Regulate the breathing and thereby control the mind.” B.K.S. Iyengar

14.  Practice Regularly

Try to practice regularly – at least once a week, preferably more if you want to make progress.

Regular practice, even it’s only 10 minutes a day, has been shown to make a significant difference.  For some, 10 minutes a day at home than packing your bag and head off to the Yoga studio on a rainy day.

Find out what will work best for you and then try to make it a regular thing.  Physically make the time for it in your diary or build it into a daily/weekly routine.

Does motivation tend to be a problem?  Then our next Yoga tip for beginners will be useful for you.

15. Yoga Motivation

This Yoga tip draws on Adriene from Yoga with Adriene who offers the following advice:

“We create so many obstacles and excuses for ourselves as to why we cannot quite yet begin, when with a slight shift we can use that same energy to tell ourselves why we simply cannot wait any longer. The time is now! You deserve it.”

Think about it further.  We tend to spend a large amount of energy resisting that we don’t want to do.  Why not use that energy simply on doing it?

Once you have started doing Yoga, it’s very important to keep it going on a regular basis.  For most of us that can become a real challenge once “real” life starts to take over.

The trick is to be prepared for that to occur!  Read our articles on “How To Motivate Yourself To do Yoga” and “The Benefits Of Morning Yoga” to get some great ideas and be inspired.  You can also read about the “10 Habits That Will Turn You Into A Better Yogi” to learn which habits lead the way to becoming a great Yoga practitioner.

Enjoy The Ride

Your Yoga journey is bound to be a bit of a blast as well as a roller coaster ride.

If you take on the journey fully and traverse all of Yoga’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions, you will have your work cut out.

There is plenty of very interesting stuff to learn.  That could easily keep you engaged for the rest of your life, if you take on the challenge.

Yoga Is A Journey Not A Destination

Yoga is definitely a journey and not a destination.  If you accept this idea then the journey can be hugely interesting and a very personal one.

You are in control – no one else!

No-one turns into a master Yogi overnight.  No matter where you are on your yoga journey, you will derive great joy from making small steps of progress.

You will notice that you will have better balance and strength, or you may find a better capacity to concentrate and focus in different aspects of your life.

Be prepared to be surprised.

Make sure that you will notice any changes – this will provide added motivation to keep going with the practice.

Have Some Fun

And here’s our last Yoga tip for beginners.

It’s good to take Yoga practice seriously, but it’s also great to have some fun around it and enjoy some laughter!  After all, we are doing Yoga at least in part to become a bit more chilled.

Some ideas:

  • Invite your Yoga class colleagues to a coffee after practice
  • Find some like-minded people to do Yoga in the park, followed by a picnic
  • Go to a Yoga festival or Yoga retreat
  • Participate in Yoga chats and bring some humor into them
  • Do Yoga as twosomes, threesomes etc., and have a laugh doing it
  • Do some laughter Yoga.