15 tips for yoga beginners

The time has come that you have decided to start your yoga journey. You were even excited when booking your first yoga class. Congrats! You may be wondering about the tips for yoga beginners. I will share my recommendations to have in mind when starting practicing yoga. Here are my 15 tips for yoga beginners. The last one is a ‘bonus tip’ that you will not expect at all!

If you chose to have your first yoga class online, with YouTube or an app, these tips for yoga beginners still apply for most of them. The only difference is that you may not be able to interact directly with your teacher when you have doubts or questions.

1st tip for yoga beginners – Dress comfortably

You will stretch and move your body during the classes. Choose an outfit in which you are comfortable and can move freely. The standard outfits are leggings, a bra (for women), and a T-shirt or a top tank. If you like to wear loose clothes, it is fine too!

Additional clothing tips:

  • Avoid extra tight leggings. You will not be comfortable when moving your legs.
  • Avoid shorts. If you sweat, your skin will be wet and slippery. It will make it more difficult to practice some poses (e.g. Crow pose).

You may have seen or heard that some people dress in white. This is sometimes the case in some more spiritual styles of yoga (e.g. Kundalini yoga) but it is not too common. Unless the teacher specifically asks you to wear white clothes AND you are fine with it, wear the colors and patterns that you like!

When I tell you that there is no such thing as a clothing rule in yoga… Bikram, founder of Bikram yoga (and very controversial character, not only for his speedos…)

Tip 2 – Which yoga style to choose when starting yoga?

I will let you have a look at my dedicated article on the topic. In short, if you are a complete yoga beginner, I recommend Hatha Yoga as it is the most common yoga practice and it is very suited for beginners. However, you may find joy and peacefulness in other yoga styles.

For a very first class, avoid Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga styles.

Tip 3 – Find the teacher that you like

I started enjoying yoga the day I found a teacher that I liked. Her classes were not too spiritual and she would not push us to go beyond our limit in the poses. I experienced classes where teachers would press on me and push me, I hate this!

Personal experience: it is not because you have a bad feeling with a teacher that yoga is not for you. The yoga world is to some extent similar to the professional world. We sometimes have a good vibe with colleagues, sometimes we don’t. It does not mean that we reject the whole company. Try other classes with other teachers to make up your mind better.

Tip 4 – Choose classes adapted to a beginner level

You found your yoga style and your perfect teacher. Now pay attention to the level of the class. Most classes are open to all levels but others, especially in big yoga studios, are classified per level: beginner/ intermediary/ advanced.

If you are not sure, ask the teacher.

Tip 5 – If you have pain or injuries, let the teacher know

If you have pre-existing pain or injuries, mention it to the teacher BEFORE the class starts. He will let you know which poses are recommended, which ones to avoid, and will suggest some pose variations.

If you experience an abnormal kind of pain during the class, let the teacher know during or after the class. DO NOT FORCE YOURSELF. We all have different bodies. For example, people who have hyperextensions of the elbows or knees may experience pain in their joints. They have to micro-bend their elbows or knees during some poses to protect their joints.

If you cannot make the difference between the uncomfortable feeling of a stretch and the feeling of abnormal pain, ask the teacher. There is no shame in it and it will reassure you.

Tip 6 – During classes, do not hesitate to use props (blocks, straps, etc.)

Depending on the teacher and yoga style, you may be asked to use props: blocks, straps, (handcuffs, whip… no I am kidding, it is not a SM studio).

Some teachers are against props, others are in favor. As for me, I am totally in favor of props! They allow to make some poses more comfortable and to improve more quickly, without getting hurt! A good example of the use of blocks is the block-supported fish pose. It is a brilliant one to gently and comfortably work on the back flexibility.

Block-supported fish pose

Tip 7 – If you are not comfortable with some poses, do not do them

It is one of the tips for yoga beginners that we sometimes feel too shy to implement. But don’t be! If you do not feel comfortable doing one of the poses, do not do it. If you feel tired, have a rest. Do the child pose, sit down, or do anything that you like as long as it does not bother the others (do not give a call to your best friend… obviously!).

Nobody will be bothered by it. And if the teacher complains, find a new one!

Tip 8 – Breathe

During yoga classes, a part of the focus is on breathing. It allows to relax of the muscles and increases flexibility, especially when exhaling. A slow belly breath also has beneficial effects on digestion and the nervous system.

If you do not immediately succeed to do the abdominal breathing (‘breathing in the belly’) or synchronize the inhalations and exhalations as mentioned by the instructor, it is no big deal. Focus first on the movements and breathe normally. As long as you do not forget to breathe, everything will be alright! It may sound obvious but whenever I teach yoga to my husband, I feel like he is holding his breath for 45 minutes as he finds the poses so uncomfortable! 🙂

Tip 9 – Do not eat and drink too much before the class

Like any other physical activity, having a too-full belly is not enjoyable. If you are a beginner, it is likely you will not have to practice inversions (e.g. headstand). These poses, where the feet are above the head, should definitely be avoided when you have a full stomach. Otherwise, you take the risk to let the food go back to where it came from… outside of your body!

If you practice yoga in the morning and are comfortable with practicing with an empty stomach, it is perfect for the detox. Si you do not like to practice with an empty stomach, just have a light meal.

You can drink water before and during the class but not too much so that you do not feel bloated.

Tip 10 – Do not compare yourself to others

This tip is according to me one of the most important tips for yoga beginners. It is a tip that I would have liked to hear and repeat to myself over and over again. When I started practicing yoga, I was not flexible AT ALL.

I started practicing yoga in Hong Kong. I do not know the secret of Asian women but 98% of them are SUPER flexible. They can do a split as easily as I can finish a chocolate bar (and I have extensive experience in this field). As for me, I was not even able to touch my toes with my fingers!

My point is that we all have different bodies. Do not compare the performance of the teacher with yours. Do not compare the performance of other students with yours either. You may get demotivated and by the end of the class, you will be depressed! It is the exact opposite of what we want!

Tip 11 – Progress come quickly…

Progress comes very quickly! I tend to think that the further we come from in term of flexibility, the quicker the progress come.

Stretch regularly, even outside of the yoga studio. If you take a yoga class once a week, take some time at home to stretch a few minutes from time to time as well. Our body has this amazing ability to stretch and get stronger when we work on it. Just try!

Tip 12 – …But be patient

Your goal might be to do a split in 2 weeks, but you have to be realistic and conscious about your body limitations. I got a muscle tear while practicing yoga by myself at home when I was a beginner. I wanted to get better so badly that I pushed myself too much. Three years down the road, I still feel the pain of the tear.

Moreover, just like it is pointless to compare your performance with others, do not compare your progress with the progress of others. Some people improve quicker than others. This can be VERY frustrating but it is what it is.

Additional tips:

  • Try to accept your body as it is, rather than as you would like it to be
  • Look at the progress already made, rather than what you still have to improve on
  • Do not fall into the trap of some online ads that try to sell programs to nail a pose within 2 weeks. We all have different bodies and progression paces!

Tip 13 – Should I practice yoga in the morning or in the evening ?

There is no strict rule about this. Some people like to practice in the morning as it makes them feel good for the rest of the day. Others like to practice in the evening to feel relaxed before going to bed.

As a matter of fact, it mainly depends on schedule constraints: when do you have the time to practice? When are the classes given in the yoga studio you like? Etc.

Tip 14 – Should I practice yoga every day?

There is no strict rule about that either. Practice when you feel like it and as long as you enjoy it. Listen to your body and be conscious of its needs. If some classes or stretches make you feel good every day, then do them daily! When you have muscle pain or soreness, get a rest. If one hour of yoga a week is enough for you, it is great!

Tip 15 – And here is the bonus tip…

Poop before going to your yoga class!

HHAAAAA, you did not expect this tip, did you? When I did my first yoga teacher training, one of the recommendations we were given was to poop before the first class.

Ok, so… how to put this… is not something I can control too much actually…

Yoga is a great activity to eliminate toxins in the body. By going to the loo before a class, you already eliminate some toxins and allow the body to detoxify other organs like the liver, gallbladder, etc.

If you have a good and healthy digestive system, it will happen first thing in the morning. This is perfect for the detoxification process. However, if you are not so regular in your elimination process, it is okay. It is not mandatory to poop before a yoga class (I mean… how would the teacher check anyway? Would they ask you first thing in the morning: “hi, how are you? Did you make a nice poopy today?”). It is anyway likely that the yoga class will make you go right after.

GLAMOUROUS, isn’t it? 😉

Time to practice !

That’s it! You know my 15 tips for yoga beginners. Now is the time to start practicing. More importantly: enjoy! It is normal not to be perfect. And it is so great to have made it to your first class!

If you would like to know what to expect during your first yoga class, have a look at my 2-min video on this topic. It also included tips for yoga beginners in terms of useful props to have when practicing at home. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to access all of my yoga videos and classes for beginners.

Let me know if you have questions or comments. And welcome to the big yogi family!

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