Enjoy your Beginner’s Guide to Yoga!

 

You decided you want to give yoga a try, now what?

I remember walking into my first class.

I had no idea what to expect, or what I was doing, but as intimidated as I felt, I was also excited to try something new.

Plus my first week was free. Major bonus.

I had so many unanswered questions about taking those first steps, but I didn’t know who to ask. I also wasn’t sure if this was something I wanted to commit the time or money to.

On top of all that I’m a runner so I figured my tight and inflexible muscles would prevent me from being able to do yoga.

I had so many reasons not to go, but looking back a few years later I’m glad I took that step.

I want to remove some of the confusion and intimidation factors for you. Whatever your reason might be for not making it to the mat yet:

It’s too expensive.

I don’t have enough time.

I’m not flexible.

I don’t know anyone.

It sounds so boring.

I’ll look stupid.

Everyone else will be so much better than me.

It’s not for me.

It’s too hard.

Whatever your reason is, you’re not alone. I’ve been there. And so have many others.

And remember, yoga is a practice. We all have to start at the beginning so don’t feel like you have to be a pro.

I’ve created The Beginner’s Guide to Yoga so that you can go into your first class with a few less questions and open up more space for you to have fun on the mat.

In your Beginner’s Guide to Yoga you’ll learn:

  • Why Yoga? -The benefits.
  • How to find the RIGHT yoga class that fits into your fitness level, budget and busy schedule.
  • Your most common yoga questions answered
  • How to better accommodate for injuries.
  • As an added bonus: Throughout your Beginner’s Guide to Yoga I’ve shared some of my favorite yoga products and links to additional information that will set you up for success!

Let’s get started!

 

Section 1: Why Yoga? [AKA The Benefits of Yoga]

Are you looking for more reason to give yoga a try?  Yoga can have many benefits. I’ve experienced so many positive changes in my life and in my physical body since starting yoga. I also like that depending on what type of yoga I practice it can come with a variety of benefits.

Here’s a list of some of the benefits of yoga:

  • Improved flexibility
  • More able to balance-physical balance and better overall life balance
  • Brings the body into a restful state for deeper sleep
  • Higher energy levels during the day
  • Increased muscle tone and strength
  • Better posture
  • Supports you in maintaining a healthy weight for your body
  • Faster recovery from injuries and workout soreness
  • Less aches and pains in daily life
  • More comfortable and accepting of your body
  • A heightened sense of calm and awareness
  • Less reactive to stressful situations
  • More focus and clarity
  • Able to take longer and deeper breaths
  • Yoga is the gateway to living a healthier lifestyle and learning to treat yourself and others in a more respectful and kind way

Check out this great article on Huff to see a sweet info graphic and the progression of benefits you can receive over a length of time.

Section 2: How to find the RIGHT yoga class for YOU

Give a home practice a try. It can be a great opportunity to play around and see how it feels in your body with zero pressure. Not to mention there’s no travel involved, which can save quite a bit of time. There are tons of videos online to get you started that are completely free.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite online videos:

  • Yoga with Adriene
    • Why I like it: Adriene makes her classes fun and accessible. Great foundational and beginner options, plus varying levels of difficulty available for those wanting to continue moving forward with their practice.
  • DoYogaWithMe Community
    • Why I like it: A good variety and styles of yoga, you can pick a timeframe that will work for you, and plenty of different teachers so you can choose the ones that you prefer
  • Yome
    • Why I like it: Yome removes the process of searching through YouTube. They’ve cataloged hundreds of videos and made it easy for you to search depending on what you’re looking for: from beginners to more advanced levels, different styles, or topics like ‘yoga in the morning’ or ‘yoga for back pain’. You can become a free member to create a profile and connect with your fellow yogis in the Yome community and save your favorite videos so they’re easy to find and come back to.

COMING SOON! You’ll be able to follow along with my new online yoga series, “Break it Down with Michelle”. Each video will break down a different posture, focus on breath and alignment and once we start to build a foundation we’ll work into some beginner yoga sequences!

Do you have a gym membership that offers yoga classes? Take a look; maybe you already have an opportunity in an environment you’re familiar with. Some people will discourage doing yoga at the gym. I disagree. There are great teachers and different styles of yoga everywhere; you just have to find the ones that work for you.

Is there community classes or yoga in the park near you? This can be a cheaper or sometimes free option. Check into your community centers or local parks to see if this is an option for you.

Do a Google search of yoga studios in your area. I find group classes to be nice for accountability and motivation. If you’re ready to get into the studio, ask around! It’s fun to have a friend there with you, as you’re getting comfortable in a new space. Maybe they already have a studio they like, or you can do a search for studios near you.

Tips when looking into studios:

  • Do they offer beginner level classes?
  • Do the class times work with your schedule?
  • How is the location? It’s more probable that you’ll return if it’s close to a place you already frequent, home, work, or the grocery store.
  • Check pricing, some studios over a free class or a discounted rate to new students.
  • If the studio has a FAQs page give it a glance. It may clear up some questions specific to that studio.

Remove some of the intimidation factor and questions. Call or stop in before your first class. Say hello, tell them you’re new to yoga. Now you have a fresh view of the studio in your mind and no more confusion of trying to find the place. Be mindful, some smaller studios lock their doors when a class is in session so plan your drop-in accordingly, or call first.

Section 3: Common Questions

What should I bring?

  • Water bottle
  • A small towel. Optional, but I like to have it with me in case I want to wipe sweat out of my eyes.
  • Yoga mat. Some studios provide a mat or rent them out. You can always pick up a cheap mat at a store near you or scope out Amazon and have it delivered straight to you. You don’t have to spend crazy amounts of money to have your own mat. The first mat I ever had was by Gaiam for about $20. It lasted forever and I ended up donating it a few years later still in excellent condition. If you want to invest a little more money on a high quality mat Manduka has reliable products. I have two that I like by them, one for at home and one that’s a great travel mat.
  • Enough money to cover the cost of the class. I usually pay around $10-15/class and have never paid more than $20/class. If you go more regularly a monthly package can drop the per- class-cost considerably.

Where do I put my purse, wallet, keys, etc.?

  • The answer is different depending on the studio. If you’re going to a gym or a larger studio some of them have lockers, but you may need to provide your own lock.
  • Some smaller studios provide cubbies or you can just place stuff against the wall and let it be.
  • If you’re not comfortable leaving your stuff out in the open there’s the option to leave most of your extras at home or in the car locked away. I like to leave my phone in the car to give myself a break from technology. It’s refreshing to step away from it for a little bit. (*If you’re on call and need to have your phone on you, let the teacher know before class. Most teachers are okay with it as long as you keep it on silent so it doesn’t disrupt the rest of the class. )

What do I wear?

  • Most importantly, make sure you are comfortable. Breathable fabrics are best so try to stay away from anything heavy or made of cotton. You’ll leave socks and shoes at the door and practice barefoot.

Women:

  •       Shorts/workout pants
  •       Tank top or t-shirt
  •       Sports bra
  •       Hair tie
  • My favorite yoga brands are Beyond Yoga and 90 Degree, the customer service I’ve received has been phenomenal and I like the quality of their clothes. No need spend a lot here though either. You can also check out local stores like TJ Maxx. I’ve come across some great finds there for discounted good quality brands.

Men:

  •       Shorts/workout pants
  •       Shirt is optional depending on what you prefer
  •       Hair tie-depending on hair length

 

Do I need to reserve a spot or can I just drop-in?

  • In most cases you can just drop-in, but it’s dependent on the studio.

 

How early do I need to show up?

  • Never more than 30 minutes. When going for your first time you may need to fill out a quick form so it can be helpful to get there at least 15 minutes early to pay and find your place in the studio. I like to have a full half hour when possible. It’s nice to get situated and if you have any stretches or just want a little quiet time on the mat before class starts.

 

What’s a prop and how to use them?

  • Props are items that the studio has available to enhance your practice in a way that works best for you. Common props include: straps, blankets, blocks, and bolsters (some sort of cushion)
  • This is one I love to share because I didn’t use props when I first started practicing yoga. I thought it meant I was weak or would pin me as the newbie. From what I’ve found they can be great for anyone practicing yoga, from beginner to extremely advanced.
  • They are useful in accommodating for injuries.
  • Props offer support and can help to deepen your practice while listening to your body.
  • If you don’t know how to use them, no worries! Start by checking out this simple and short video to give you some ideas. Over time you’ll pick it up alongthe way and figure out tricks that work for you. Plus your teacher will offer up suggestions. *On that note if a posture ever causes you pain or doesn’t feel right in your body, don’t do it! Or ask if there is a modification or alternate way. Yoga should be fun and your practice is no one’s, but your own.

What is the average cost of a yoga class?

  • It’s common to pay somewhere between $10-20/class.

 

I can’t afford that, now what?

  • Start by focusing on gyms, community centers/events and smaller studios in your area. Usually the prices on these options are a little lower.
  • Look for donation based studios or classes.
  • You always have your online options to follow-through with.
  • Talk to the studio you’re interested in. Some studios offer an income-based rate, work for trade opportunities, or a discount incentive through your insurance if you make it to the studio a certain number of times a month.

 

Is parking available or does the studio offer a voucher?

  • Bigger cities can have limited available parking and you may have to pay. Check with your studio to see if they have any voucher if that’s the case, or consider walking or biking if the studio is close to you.

 

What class or teacher is best for a beginner?

  • I recommend starting with a beginner’s level hatha or vinyasa based class.
  • Check scheduling to see if there’s foundational or beginners classes on the schedule
  • Try a beginner’s workshop.
  • When it comes to teachers and classes it can take trial and error to find what works best for you as you’re starting out, but you can always ask for a recommendation. It can be helpful to have someone who reminds you to have fun with it, but will still take time to focus on alignment and breath. It can feel overwhelming so take in what you can and know that progress will come with practice.

 

Is the studio heated?

  • Usually this is clearly stated, but a good thing to know. Some classes are heated and it’s nice to know what you’re getting into. The heat can feel nice, but I don’t necessarily encourage it. Be mindful that the heat makes your muscles seem longer than they are and can lead to overstretching.

Section 4: Yoga+Injury

We all experience injuries throughout life, some more serious than others. It doesn’t always have to prevent us from staying active. After I fractured my foot and had to take a break from running, yoga is what helped me to regain my balance and strength, but I had to commit to staying consistent with it.

Here are some tips if you’re dealing with an injury:

  • Talk to your doctor. This is number 1 before you get started! If it’s an injury that you have a doctor for-check with them to hear what their thoughts are about you doing yoga. This is for your own safety and as a courtesy to your yoga teacher.
  • Talk to your teacher. Once you’ve gotten the all clear, tell your teacher about your injury before class. They may have some suggestions for you or modifications they’ll be more aware about offering throughout class.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel pain, stop.
  • Rest or modify. This shows inner strength, not weakness. Sometimes it’s harder to back off than it is to push through and it doesn’t benefit you to cause further injury.
  • Try private classes. See if you can get at least a couple 1x1 yoga classes so that the teacher can work with you and your body to find modifications and develop a plan to build strength slowly as you heal. This can give you more confidence when going into the group classes and the attention that your body needs, but sometimes doesn’t get in a larger group class.

Section 5: MOST IMPORTANTLY.

Have fun! Let yoga be your playtime and remember this is your practice. Listen to your body and rest or modify when you need to. 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Beginner’s Guide to Yoga! I hope this guide cleared up some questions and that you’re feeling more ready to move forward with your practice. If any additional questions come up or you want to say hello, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

Xoxo,

Michelle

Send me a message!

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2 Comments

  1. Kristen

    This is a very helpful and informative guide. I wish I had something like this when I first started going to yoga. It would have put my mind at complete ease. Keep up the great work Michelle!

    Reply
    • michelledesch@gmail.com

      Thanks Kristen! I really appreciate the feedback. Hopefully this will be of some benefit to others beginning their practice. 🙂

      Reply

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