Starting any new fitness regimen can be intimidating. Yoga is no different. If you’ve been thinking about going to your first yoga class, but still have some hesitation, we’ve got you covered.

The biggest thing to keep in mind as you are starting out, and something we talk about a lot at Peerfit, is that group exercise is about community, not competition. It doesn’t matter what anyone else in your class can do. Maybe one day you can pull out a crow pose like a pro, and maybe another day you can’t even touch your toes (we’ve all been there). All that matters as you are beginning your practice is that you find an instructor you trust, you focus on your breath, and you appreciate your body for whatever movements it is able to do in that day.

Even the most advanced yogis have days where that backbend or balance pose they could do with no problem yesterday, is all of a sudden impossible the next.

So, don’t let the challenge of change prevent you from getting started or even continuing with regularity. Below are eleven tips for anyone wanting to begin a yoga practice and get over the first time jitters:

Start at the beginning - Before signing up for your first few classes, be sure to read the class description. Make sure it says ‘suitable for beginners’, or is a Level 1 class. Sometimes all level classes can be too advanced, especially if it’s your very first class.

Learning the poses, understanding the movement, and getting to know your body in this new way is much easier if you start with the basics.

Some beginner level classes to try:

  • Hatha
  • Vinyasa
  • Anusara
  • Iyengar
  • Yin Yoga

Have an open mind - Remember that yoga is about your individual journey. Don't get distracted or discouraged by experienced yogis.

Do a little research - Look up some basic poses online before attending class (even if you don't do them until your class), to give you peace of mind.

Attend more than one class - Try attending a minimum of 5 classes (at least once a week) to get a feel for what yoga is all about before making up your mind. Sometimes just showing up is all that matters, so grab your mat, don’t set expectations, and just show up.

Don’t hesitate to try out different instructors to see who’s style best reflects your yoga practice goals. Every yoga teacher has a different style, type of music, and vibe. Don’t write off yoga based on one teacher style. The same goes for studios. A certain studio may not always be a good fit for you. Try a few different studios until you find the studio that feels like home. Find a community that resonates with you and then don’t just practice there, become a part of the community.

Bring your own yoga mat if possible. It’s simply a healthier and more convenient choice. Environmentally friendly, chemical-free mats will last a decade or longer, and won’t give you a headache while practicing yoga. But, if you still aren’t sure if yoga is for you, check with the studio ahead of time to see if they have rental mats.

Drink plenty of water before, during and after class. Yoga is a natural detoxifier, so it’s important to hydrate and rehydrate to feel refreshed after class.

Be aware of your limitations. It is extremely important that your yoga instructor is aware of any personal injuries, surgeries, physical limitations or chronic issues so that modifications can be presented when necessary. Consult your physician - especially if you have any concerns about injury prior to your first class. Once in class, remember that yoga should not cause pain in the body. If something doesn’t feel good, stop and rest.  Ask for modifications or just take a break. Yoga is gentle, but if postures are not practiced with care, it is possible to incur injuries.

Try a yoga class with a twist - If you are still feeling a bit skeptical about trying out a yoga class, find a yoga class with a twist. There are many studios now that offer classes like:

  • Hybrid yoga - yoga plus spin, circuit training or the like
  • Goat yoga (yes, goat yoga!)
  • Cat yoga
  • Beer yoga

These class twists will give you a taste of traditional yoga with some fun variations that may be less intimidating when you are first starting out.

Dress for comfort. Wear longer, more form-fitting clothing so you don’t have to keep readjusting your shirt or pants in every new position. Try out a forward fold or downward dog posture before heading to the studio to make sure you will be comfortable.

Have fun and be patient with yourself. Positive changes are waiting for you.

Bonus tip: It’s all about your breath. Yoga may be a series of poses, but the key to any yoga practice is the breath. So focus more on your teacher’s breath cues and less on perfecting your asanas (positions).

What tips do you have for beginning yogis? Was there anything that helped you begin your practice?  

Namaste, yogis!

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