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Are you ready to strengthen your body, mind, and spirit? Do you want to tone up and increase your flexibility and balance? Then you’re ready to try yoga for beginners!
If you are brand new to exercise and looking for something that won’t kill you but will give you a good workout, then perhaps you’re looking for yoga. Or maybe you’ve been working out for years but have reached a fitness plateau and are no longer seeing any results of all of your hard work. Yoga would work for you too.
The truth is, if you are alive then you will benefit from doing yoga.
And one of the things that I love about it is that you don’t have to join a gym or an expensive yoga studio to do it. In a minute I am going to go over a few beginner yoga poses that you can practice right there in your living room.
But before we get to that, let’s go over a few basics that you should know before you get started.
The Yoga Basics
Yoga is an ancient exercise that strengthens the body, mind, and spirit. It has been around for thousands of years. And over that time some standard practices were established.
First, you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga. That is something that people commonly misunderstand. My clients are often afraid to try yoga for beginners because they aren’t flexible. But they shouldn’t be scared.
The truth is, if you’re not very flexible you need yoga even more. Just be patient with yourself and know that your flexibility will improve with practice.
Another thing that you need to know is that all classes are different. There are several different types of yoga. We will talk about that more in a minute.
I often get asked if it’s okay to eat before you do yoga. The answer is no. It’s best to do yoga on an empty stomach. I’ll put this as delicately as I can. A full belly and yoga don’t mix well. Your best bet is to eat around 90 minutes before you exercise. Eating a banana right before class is fine, just don’t eat a full meal.
One of the beautiful things about yoga is that it is for everyone. There are no prerequisites. If you are alive and breathing, then you will benefit from doing yoga. There are even yoga classes for dogs. Yes, really! If your dog can do it, so can you!
“Yoga is a dance between control and surrender — between pushing and letting go — and when to push and to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your well-being.” – Joel Kramer
What should I wear to do yoga for beginners?
But don’t get hung up on what you’re wearing. You can do yoga for beginners naked if you want to. Yes, really! Although, I should probably suggest that if you do naked yoga, you do it at home.
The clothes aren’t the important thing. It’s about the connection between mind and body. In yoga, you leave your ego at the door. That includes being self-conscious about what you’re wearing. The simple answer is, wear what makes you feel good.
“Yoga is not a work-out, it is a work-in. And this is the point of spiritual practice; to make us teachable; to open up our hearts and focus our awareness so that we can know what we already know and be who we already are.” — Rolf Gates
Is Yoga Right for You?
Do you want to tone up and strengthen your muscles? Do you need to work on your flexibility? Is balance an issue for you? Are you stressed out? Are you looking for natural pain relief? Or are you a beginner who wants to start exercising? Do you have an injury that you need to rehab? Are you interested in adding a new form of exercise to your routine to prevent fitness plateaus? Are you looking for a workout that won’t kill you but will leave you feeling refreshed and focused?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then yoga for beginners is right for you.
The Benefits of Yoga for Beginners
- Increases flexibility
- Strengthens your muscles
- Improves posture
- Protects your spine
- Strengthens your bones
- Increases blood flow
- Boosts immune system and drains your lymphs
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Burns calories and assists in burning body fat
- Regulates your adrenal glands
- Puts you in a better mood and fights against depression and anxiety
- Lowers your blood sugar
- Helps you to focus and concentrate
- Improves balance
- Releases stress and tension
- Helps you sleep deeper
- Prevents digestive problems
- Increases self-esteem
- Pain relief
- Supports your connective tissue
“True yoga is not about the shape of your body, but the shape of your life. Yoga is not to be performed; yoga is to be lived. It doesn’t care about what you have been; yoga cares about the person you are becoming. Yoga is designed for a vast and profound purpose, and for it to be truly called yoga, its essence must be embodied.” – Aadil Palkhivala
The Different Types of Yoga
As you’re looking for the best yoga for beginners class to try, it’s important to note that there are many different types of yoga.
All of the styles will improve your strength, balance, and flexibility. All of the styles will also help you to relax, quiet your mind and spirit, and release tension and stress.
The difference in them lies in their difficulty and intensity.
The best advice I can give you is to try several classes in different styles that meet your fitness level so that you can find which style suits you best.
Ashtanga is an advanced type of yoga that does a non-stop series of poses while using a unique breathing technique that will help focus your mind and control the flow of your breath throughout your body while you move.
Bikram is another very challenging form of yoga that you do in a hot room. These classes focus on a series of 26 yoga poses. And you perform them in a place that is around 100 degrees F. People commonly refer to Bikram as “hot yoga.” If you have any health issues, you should check with your doctor before you try this style.
When you’re looking for yoga for beginners, Hatha classes are an excellent place to start. This form of yoga is very gentle. Hatha doesn’t focus much on your breathing, but it will walk you through simple beginner poses.
Iyengar is another style of yoga for beginners. It is slow-paced and gentle. This class is detail-oriented and will focus on proper body alignment. Additionally, Iyengar classes often use props like belts and blocks.
“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” — Etty Hittlesum
Kripalu is another yoga for beginners. This class is gentle and slow. You will barely break a sweat with this one, but you will find a deeper mind-body connection.
Kundalini is a bit different from the other styles because it focuses on the philosophy and spiritual aspect of yoga. These classes usually include meditation, chanting, breathing techniques, and yoga poses.
Of all of the different forms of yoga, Power Yoga is the most athletic. This challenging class builds on the sequence of poses that you learned in Ashtanga. It’s fast-moving as you flow from one move to the next. Additionally, Power Yoga will also help you tone and strengthen your upper body.
Sivananda is another beautiful yoga for beginners. This class is very gentle. You will move through just 13 different poses, and you lie down in between them. This class is easily adaptable for people with varying physical abilities.
Viniyoga is also an excellent yoga for beginners. This gentle class focuses on how your breath moves through your body with each movement. This class doesn’t worry too much about the details of each pose. Instead, it concentrates on deep stretches. This class is ideal for beginners who want to focus on flexibility, body awareness, relaxation, and recovery from injury.
What is the best type of yoga for beginners?
If you want to find the best yoga for beginners, you should try:
- Hatha Yoga
- Iyengar Yoga
- Kripalu Yoga
- Kundalini Yoga
- Sivananda Yoga
If you’re going to do yoga for beginners for weight loss, then you should try the more vigorous styles like Power Yoga, Ashtanga yoga, or Bikram yoga.
How Often Should I Do Yoga for Beginners?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Physical Activity Guidelines, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobics every week. The guidelines also say that you should do resistance or strength training at least twice a week, working on every major muscle group.
Most types of yoga won’t give you much cardio, but it will undoubtedly give you your strength training.
There are five main types of exercise that you should do every week:
- Strength training
- Core work
Yoga gives you four out of the five. To see the best results with yoga for beginners, you should do it two to five times per week.
In order to meet all of your exercise requirements, you should also do some cardio. Try taking a 20-minute walk before you do your yoga routine. The walking will get you warmed up and get your blood flowing, which will make the stretches easier and more effective.
“Change only happens in the present moment. The past is already done. The future is just energy and intention.” ― Kino MacGregor
Can Yoga for Beginners Help Me Lose Weight?
Yes, it can. As I just mentioned, most styles of yoga don’t offer cardio, which is how your body burns fat, although some forms move fast enough that you can get fat burning.
But there are so many health benefits beyond cardio that you can get from yoga for beginners.
Here’s the best part.
When you do yoga, you are strengthening your muscles and increasing your lean muscle fibers. The more lean muscle that you have, the more calories you burn, even while you’re at rest. So as you get stronger, you will burn more calories both while you’re doing yoga and even after you finish.
The other great thing about increasing your muscle is that it will make you burn fat more efficiently when you do your cardio.
Some forms of yoga are more gentle while others are more intense. You will burn more calories in the intense classes, but it’s a good idea to mix it up. When you’re first starting yoga for beginners, try doing both gentle types and more intense sessions to see what you feel most comfortable with in your weekly workouts.
What Equipment Do I Need for Yoga for Beginners?
As I mentioned earlier, you will need a good mat to do yoga for beginners. If you are taking classes at a studio or gym, they usually have mats there that you can use. But if you’re like me and have an aversion to laying in other people’s sweat, then it’s better to bring your own.
“Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked.” — Patanjali
Yoga for Beginners: The Top 12 Poses That You Need to Know
Here are 12 beginner poses that you should learn before you try your first yoga class.
1. Mountain Pose
Yoga for beginners is going to start with the Mountain Pose. This pose may look like just standing there, but there is a whole lot more going on than casually standing. Mountain pose is the base for all of the standing poses in yoga. It should give you a sense of grounding your feet and feeling the Earth below you.
Start by standing up tall with your feet together. Press down and spread open all 10 toes. Next, contract your quadriceps to lift your knee caps and think about lifting through your inner thighs. Let your shoulders relax down as you draw your abdominal muscles inward and slightly lift your chest.
Imagine that there’s a weight tied to your tailbone pulling it toward the floor, while at the same time there’s a string attached to your head pulling upward toward the ceiling. Relax your face and jaw. And hold this pose for five to eight breaths.
The video below will walk you through the pose. This one is all about feeling your body in proper alignment. You can practice the Mountain Pose anywhere. Next time you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or standing in your kitchen cooking, take a few seconds to practice this pose.
The next pose that you should know to do yoga for beginners is the plank. If you’ve done other forms of fitness, then you might have learned the plank already. In yoga, we do a high and low plank.
The plank will help you with balance, and it will also strengthen and flatten your stomach muscles. Be sure to breathe through your planks like you should for any yoga pose.
Start the plank by laying on the ground on your stomach. Place your hands directly beneath your shoulders and push up into a push-up position, balanced on your hands and toes. Think of having a straight line of energy going from your head to your heels.
It is essential that you engage your abs and breathe as you hold this pose. Imagine trying to press your belly button into your spine. And then pull your shoulders down away from your ears and contract your thighs and glutes. Try to hold this pose for 20 to 30 seconds.
The video below will show you how to go from high plank to low plank.
“When you are looking in the mirror, you are looking at the problem. But, remember, you are also looking at the solution.” — Anonymous
3. Downward Facing Dog
The Downward Facing Dog is the next move that we are going to work on today in yoga for beginners. We use Downward Dog in most yoga classes, and it stretches and strengthens your entire body.
Begin this pose by getting on the ground on all fours with your wrists lined up directly under your shoulders and your knees directly beneath your hips. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up toward the ceiling.
If you’re not very flexible in your hamstrings, then do this pose with slightly bent knees. Otherwise, try to straighten your legs and push your heels into the mat. If you need to you can walk your hands forward to give yourself more length.
Keep your core engaged and hold this pose for five to eight breaths. Be sure to relax your neck.
4. Upward Facing Dog
The next pose we’re going to learn today is called Upward Facing Dog. This move builds on the Downward Dog and the plank that we just went over. It’s also the foundation for back-bending poses that you will learn as you advance.
Start by laying on the floor on your stomach with your legs extended. Place your hands on the ground alongside your body next to your lower ribs. Then while keeping your elbows close to your body, straighten your arms and lift your chest.
In this pose, you want to draw your shoulders down away from your ears and then lift through the sternum. You should also press the tops of your feet firmly into the floor.
If you do this pose correctly, you will strengthen your entire body. It will also improve your posture.
“I just know about sweat and frustration. And that what I once thought was impossible somehow doesn’t always stay that way permanently. One day it’s suddenly easy and accessible, and mostly because I’ve stopped struggling against it. I’ve just accepted where I am, keep showing up, and then the change just happens.” — Edward Vilga
5. Tree Pose
The Tree Pose is excellent for learning balance for beginners. This move will help you to gain clarity and focus while you learn to breathe and hold your balance on one foot.
Start by standing up tall on both feet. Then shift your weight over to one foot as you lift the other leg, placing your foot on the inside of your standing leg. If your hips are tight or if you have trouble with balance, then put your foot closer to your opposite ankle. If not, then bring your foot up as high as you can get it. Just avoid pressing your foot on your opposite knee.
As you practice this yoga for beginners pose, press your palms together in Prayer Pose and focus your gaze on something in front of you. The key to holding your balance in the Tree Pose is to squeeze your stomach in as tightly as you can.
If you have a tough time holding your balance in this pose, then stand near a wall or chair that you can lightly touch to find your balance. Just don’t grab on or rely on the support.
Also, be sure to keep your shoulders relaxed as you engage your core. Hold this pose for 8 to 10 slow breaths before switching to the other leg.
The Triangle Pose is the next movement that you are going to learn in yoga for beginners. This pose will help to align your spine and open your shoulder girdle and hips. It will also help to tone and strengthen your entire body.
Start by standing with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Turn your toes to the right side and then lift your arms to shoulder-height. Slowly stretch your body over and down to the right side, keeping your core engaged and your thighs contracted. Your right hand should be reaching toward the ground while your left hand reaches toward the ceiling.
If you can’t quite reach the floor or your toes, that’s okay. You can either use a yoga block or you can place your right hand on your shin. Turn your head to look up at your top arm and hold the pose for five to eight slow breaths before you stand back up and repeat on the other leg.
While you’re in this pose imagine that someone has sandwiched you between two parallel walls.
“For me, yoga is not just a workout – it’s about working on yourself.” — Mary Glover
7. Warrior 1
The Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 poses are essential for building stamina and strength in yoga for beginners. They build strength in your core and lower body while at the same time stretching your thighs and hips.
To do Warrior 1, you will step back with one foot into a lunge. Then bring your arms up over your head, palms facing each other, and lift your chest. Keep your core engaged and breathe into the pose. You should hold it for 8 to 10 breaths.
One thing to be careful of with this pose is hurting your knees. The front knee of your lunge should never bend beyond 90 degrees. You want your knee to line up directly above your ankle, not going forward of your toes. If you feel any pain in your knees that is a good indication that you’re doing something wrong.
8. Warrior 2
In yoga for beginners, Warrior 2 uses the same lunge that you use in Warrior 1, but instead of bringing your arms up, you will hold them out to the side, shoulder-height. Both of the Warrior poses are external hip openers. They will also stretch your inner thighs and groin. On top of that, they will improve your balance.
Try starting Warrior 2 from a Downward Dog. Step one of your feet forward in between your hands and stand up with your front knee bent at 90 degrees and your back leg straight. Be sure to keep your hips squared and your core engaged.
Hold the pose for 8 to 10 breaths before you straighten your front knee. Then turn your feet and lunge on the other side.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi
9. Child’s Pose
The next pose that you should know to do yoga for beginners is Child’s Pose. This movement is a resting movement that you will do in between postures. It’s an excellent opportunity to center yourself and listen to your breathing. Child’s Pose is ideal for any time that you need a mental break or some stress relief.
To do this yoga for beginners pose you will start on your hands and knees on the floor. Sit back on your heels and open your knees wider than shoulder-width apart while you bring your big toes together underneath you.
Next, lay forward over your thighs and walk your hands out as far as you can while you allow your forehead to touch the floor gently.
Relax into this pose and hold it for 30 seconds to a minute.
10. Seated Forward Bend
In yoga for beginners, you will also be doing the Seated Forward Bend. This pose will stretch the hamstrings, upper and lower back, and sides. And it will teach you how to breathe through uncomfortable positions.
You should feel the tension as you fold forward. But you shouldn’t feel any sharp pain. If you do then back off of this exercise.
Start this movement by sitting on the floor with your legs extended and together. Flex your feet and press your big toes together. Next, lift your chest as you hinge forward from your hips. Keep your stomach pulled in tight.
Once you reach your maximum stretch, hold it for 8 to 10 breaths. In this pose, you should keep your shoulders, neck, and head relaxed.
“When life is foggy, path is unclear and mind is dull, remember your breath. It has the power to give you the peace. It has the power to resolve the unsolved equations of life.” — Amit Ray
11. Bridge Pose
Before you start doing yoga for beginners, you should also learn the Bridge Pose. Bridge Pose is an excellent beginner’s backbend that will stretch the front of your body and strengthen the back of your body.
Start this yoga for beginners pose by laying on your back. Bend your knees and bring your feet as close to your hips as you can, opening them about hip-width apart. Then slowly lift your hips up toward the ceiling. Next, you will bring your hands together under your body and interlace your fingers. Press your pinkie fingers into your mat as you open your chest even more.
While you’re doing this movement imagine squeezing your heels in toward your shoulders, activating the hamstrings.
Hold this pose for 8 to 10 breaths and then lower your hips back to the mat. You should repeat this pose two or three more times.
12. Sun Salutation
Okay, now let’s put some of the postures together. In yoga for beginners, you will do Sun Salutation which combines several of the poses that we have gone over today. Sun Salutation will warm, strengthen, and align your entire body.
This series of movements will take you through:
- Mountain Pose
- Forward Bend
- Downward Facing Dog
- Low Plank
- Upward Facing Dog
The video below will walk you through the movement.
A Final Thought on Yoga for Beginners
Well, there you have it. Now you’re ready to start yoga for beginners!
One final thing that I wanted to mention is that yoga isn’t just for beginners. Yoga is actually excellent for everyone, no matter your fitness level. When I say yoga for beginners, I’m talking about anyone who has never tried it before. But I don’t mean to imply that it’s too easy. Sure, some forms of yoga are slow and gentle, but there are also forms that are incredibly challenging and will leave you good and sweaty.
I recommend that you learn some of the basic yoga postures, like the ones above, before you take your first class or try out your first video. However, if you are used to exercising then don’t be afraid to try out more advanced classes like hot yoga or power yoga.
Now we’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments section below about your journey with yoga. And share with our readers if you have any great tips for newbies.