When you’re new to yoga, everything can seem like a challenge. Your arms start to ache as soon as you hit your first Downward Facing Dog. You feel so wobbly trying to balance in Tree pose. You feel out of breath and lost during Sun Salutations. We all start somewhere, and it’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed. Here are the tips we wish someone had told us during the beginning of our yoga journey.
Breath is key
We hear it over and over again in class, “listen to your breath.” When we let our breath become erratic and labored, our entire practice gets lost. Start in a resting position and simply observe your breath. What is the pace like? How about the length? Is it audible? Breathe in through the nose and out through the nose, trying to match the length of inhales and exhales. It may help to count as you inhale (1, 2, 3) and match the count as you exhale. As a beginner yogi, your main focus is the to maintain this smooth, steady breath throughout the class.
Literally ignore the person next to you
So the lady on the next mat over can effortlessly float from balancing on her arms to a solid handstand and then makes her way down to full splits. Who cares?! A lot of newcomers feel intimidated by what’s happening in the room, when really what’s most important is what’s happening on your own mat. At the beginning, it’s okay to take a glance around the room if you feel lost. But always remember that it doesn’t matter if your pose look like your neighbor’s and if it doesn’t feel right in your body, don’t do it.
Listen for modifications
Teachers are used to catering to classes of mixed levels. Once an instructor introduces a pose, he or she will most likely mention a modification to make the pose less intense and also how to make the pose more difficult. Your teacher will also instruct how to use props (blocks, straps, ect.) for correct alignment if your body isn’t used to making certain shapes yet. Beginner yogis, do not feel ashamed or let your ego take over- use the props and modifications! By setting these foundational yoga bricks, your body will gradually learn and strength will grow… but only if you give yourself the right tools.
Ask an expert
Your teachers are there to help. Seriously, that’s their job. When you first sign in to class, let the instructor know that you’re new and if you have any injuries. That way the teacher can give you a few pointers to help you maximise your class experience. After class, go up the teacher with any and all questions. Confused about where your back foot goes in Warrior 2? Does your knee feel like it’s going to explode in Half Pigeon pose? Instructors are there to guide your journey and answer questions to the best of their abilities.
Most importantly, be open to learning
We’re running a Yoga 101 Workshop- Foundation & Alignment on March 21, 1-3 p.m. We’ll walk through all basic components of a yoga class to you feel confident stepping into any Hot or Flow class at Kula. Spaces limited, book in the studio or online: https://kulayoga.com.au/workshops.
About the author: Miranda Raimon is a yoga instructor, Kula studio manager and freelance health & wellness writer from the San Francisco Bay Area.