You’ve made the decision to try yoga.
You’ve heard of the benefits, you’re feeling aches and pains in the body so yoga seems like a good place to start.
…that’s as far as you’ve got…
You don’t what the hell a sun salutation is.
No idea what Vinyasa means.
What the hell do you do with these blocks you’ve just bought off amazon?!
It’s a difficult place to be. The start is the hardest part of any fitness journey. You feel clueless, you’re not seeing results fast enough and you feel like you’re wasting your time.
I hear ya.
In the past, I’ve chopped and changed so much that I barely saw any change. I was better off sticking with the thing I was getting bored with, I’d have seen a big difference then!
That doesn’t change the fact that you’re at the bottom of a learning curve and you need to find a way to keep it interesting and make sure that you’re doing things right.
So here are 10 ways for beginners to make sure that the start to their yoga journey is as good as it can be.
Know your “why”
First off, why are you getting on the mat in the first place? Better joint health? Increased flexibility? Improve your strength?
Whatever the reason, it’s good to understand this not just to keep you motivated but to determine which style of yoga you should predominantly focus on to help you get there.
Be comfortable being uncomfortable
You are going to struggle to begin with and you’re probably going to feel that you’re not very good at it…you won’t be.
But be comfortable with this. Take it for what it is, as a reminder of why you started this in the first place. Accept where you’re at, accept the struggle and your improvements will be faster.
Do you want to learn some arm balances? Then search for the exercises that will help you get there.
Is hip mobility important? Look for the hip drills, such as 90-90’s, that are going to open your hips.
As part of knowing your "why", set some goals underneath that to further narrow your focus.
Each pose is a direction
The biggest mistake I made was thinking the point was to get into the end position that I saw the yogi get into on my iPad. That’s where the biggest benefit is.
They’re flexible enough to get there but think about sensation and think about the pose like a direction of travel.
In a forward bend, some people can get their forehead to their shins and some can’t even get to their toes.
If the second person feels it in their hamstrings and they aren’t rounding their back, that’s fine and exactly where you should be. You're still getting the benefit so relax about where you are.
Find the right teacher
This might be a teacher that’s local to you or even online.
Maybe it’s their style, the style of yoga they practise and the way they communicate but they need to resonate with you on some level if you’re going to be in this for the long haul, otherwise, you'll lose interest.
Don’t push the edge too far
The easiest way to injure yourself is to stretch too far but you do need to get close to the edge to see the benefit.
Learn where this is and learn what you can handle. If you’re in a yin session, back off from the edge a little bit. You might be able to hold it for a minute but 4 minutes is different. Learn where the edge is in context to the session you’re doing and adjust accordingly.
Learn about your own body
You are your biggest teacher and student of your own body.
When you first get on the mat, you can’t possibly know all the nuances of your body in different poses.
So treat your first few weeks as lessons into what your body can do. Where you’re strong, where there’s room for improvement and work on them.
Don’t compare yourself to others
To add to the above point, everybody is different and every BODY is different.
The skeletal structure varies from person to person, which brings its own benefits and challenges.
Maybe your body wasn’t designed to get into lotus. That’s fine. Focus on yourself and let go of competitiveness.
Mix it up
Try different styles and see what you enjoy.
You have to enjoy it if you’re gonna stick to it so have a play around and see what sits well with you.
You’re gonna fall flat on your face attempting crow pose at first.
You’re gonna lose balance in tree pose.
Just have fun with it, accept it and go again. This is your time to yourself so enjoy your time on the mat.
Hope this helps and puts you in good stead!
In a bit.