What Yoga Should a Beginner Start With?
By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP
what yoga should a beginner start with
We are all beginners to yoga at some point, and even many experienced yoga practitioners consider themselves beginners to the vast practice of yoga no matter how long they have been studying. Starting as a beginner in yoga is a truly beautiful time because you have the gift of the ultimate beginner’s mind with an openness and curiosity toward everything you are exposed to.
But being a beginner in yoga can also be challenging because it is such a vast practice – so how do you know where to start? In this article, we will give you all the best tips and tricks for how to start yoga as a beginner, with an emphasis on the best yoga styles for beginners. So, let’s dive in!
Yoga for beginners is the practice of establishing the foundations of yoga practice and learning the step-by-step teachings of basic yoga poses and techniques. Many yoga studios offer specialized yoga for beginners courses to go a bit more slowly through the various poses and learn safe alignment before you shift into general group classes.
Any yoga style can be adapted for beginners with a trained teacher. That being said, it is typically easier for beginners to begin in slower yoga styles so that they can have enough time to explore their body and learn the poses before shifting into faster yoga styles that don’t provide as much time to get into the pose.
In many ways, all yoga is for beginners because one of the primary teachings of yoga is how to cultivate a beginner’s mind. So, even when we are doing one of the most seemingly advanced yoga poses, yoga encourages us to approach each moment as a new and fresh opportunity to meet ourselves exactly where we are without any judgment.
All yoga can be adapted for beginners and to meet the needs of new yoga students. That being said, a slower hatha yoga class may be better suited for beginner students because this yoga style focuses more on alignment and gives more time for students to get into the pose.
Some slower-paced vinyasa yoga classes can also be an excellent option for beginner yoga students who prefer a fast-paced class or are looking for more of a workout. But make sure to tell the teacher before you start the class that you are a beginner and give yourself permission to rest as much as you need to ensure that you don’t push past your limits or get an injury.
When starting a yoga practice, it is essential to learn a few foundational yoga poses because these yoga poses often come up repeatedly in every yoga class. Once you feel comfortable in these yoga poses, it will feel much easier to expand into new yoga poses and practices in any yoga style. We will explore the top 5 yoga poses for beginners below:
1. Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward facing dog pose is perhaps the most famous yoga pose, but learning how to do it properly can take time and practice. When getting into downward facing dog pose, try to focus on extending your spine and lifting your hips up towards the ceiling. It may be more comfortable to invite a soft bend into your knees to support this lengthening of the spine rather than focusing on straightening your legs or pressing your heels toward the floor.
2. Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Upward facing dog pose is the twin pose to downward facing dog pose as they are often practiced in a sequence during sun salutations at the beginning of a yoga class. The main focus of this yoga pose is opening up your chest. Make sure that your wrists are stacked underneath your shoulders so that you don’t put undue pressure on your joints.
3. Cat and Cow Pose (Bitiliasana and Marjariasana)
Cat and cow pose is a great spinal release practice for beginner yoga students. This gentle practice can help you start to gain more familiarity with moving the spine and releasing built-up tension in this central region of the body. Again, make sure that your joints are stacked in this yoga pose by placing your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips to protect your joints.
4. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is the most popular resting yoga pose whenever you need a moment to cool down or ground yourself throughout a yoga class. If you are new to yoga, you may find that taking a wide-legged variation of child’s pose is more comfortable for your body and can give more of a release to your hips and spine. Remember that you can use this pose at any time in a yoga class, and there is absolutely no judgment in taking this time to rest!
5. Warrior 2 Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
Warrior 2 pose is a slightly more advanced yoga pose for beginners, but it is crucial to learn this yoga pose as it is so commonly used in nearly every yoga style. Remember in warrior 2 pose to focus on opening your chest towards the side rather than towards the front of your mat. Pay attention to keeping your bent front knee stacked above your ankle as well to protect your joints and encourage a grounding sensation in this pose.
How Often Should Beginners Practice Yoga
If you are a complete beginner to yoga, it is essential to ease yourself into this practice. It may be tempting to want to immediately jump into a daily yoga practice as it feels so good at the end of a nourishing flow. But pushing it too hard at the beginning of starting a yoga practice can make it less sustainable to continue your yoga practice in the long run.
A better option is to pace yourself in starting out a yoga practice. Maybe start out with one class per week and gradually increase to two or three classes per week at your own pace. That being said, if you live a very active lifestyle already, then your body may be well suited to starting with a daily practice. Make sure to pay attention to your body and how you are feeling as your ultimate guide on how frequently you should practice.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced yoga practitioner, we all need help sometimes. A sign of true strength and confidence is being able to ask for help when you need it. A kind and compassionate yoga teacher will be there for you to answer your questions and ensure that you are moving through the practice with awareness and safety, so don’t be afraid to ask for help!
2. Go At Your Own Pace
It can be tempting in a general yoga class to want to keep up with others and turn the class into a competition rather than an opportunity for introspection. Instead, try to challenge yourself to ignore others in the class and focus only on what is happening within the boundaries of your own yoga mat. Yoga is about introspection and self-awareness, so allow yourself to connect within and move at the pace that you need at the moment.
3. Props Can Be Your Best Friend
Many people believe that using yoga props is only for people with physical limitations or beginner students, but many of the most advanced yoga practitioners heavily use yoga props to support their practice. Yoga props are the best way to support your body and find safety and comfort in every yoga pose. So, if you notice that you are having to reach out of your comfort zone to get into a pose, don’t be shy to use some props to support your practice and find greater ease and inner peace.
Learn How to Teach Yoga in Our Online Yoga Teacher Training Courses
When beginning to study any subject, it can feel vast and overwhelming to even know where to start. But at the end of the day, yoga is a practice that you keep coming back to, and actually cultivating a beginner’s mind is considered one of the best ways to explore the beautiful practices that yoga has to offer.
One of the best ways to dive even deeper into yoga is through an online yoga teacher training course. For beginners to yoga, a 200-hour yoga teacher training course can give you the foundational tools to build your own yoga practice and understand the vast complexity of these teachings. So, whether you are a beginner to yoga or a long-term practitioner, make sure to check out our online yoga teacher training courses to learn the foundations of yoga and begin immersing in the depths of these beautiful practices in your own life!