Yoga Girl's Guide To Beginning Your Yoga Practice

This might be the most frequently asked question I get.....

Hi Rachel!

*My name is xxxxxxx and I'm 19 years old from Canada. All throughout high school I've had a passion for yoga, but I’ve only practiced a few times a month when I could scrounge up a few bucks to participate in a class at a studio. Recently I bought my own yoga mat and started doing yoga at home while watching YouTube videos. I didn't enjoy staring into a screen while trying to relax but now that I'm in college I don't have any money to spend on a yoga membership. *

I've been trying to research different poses and I watch yours every day on Instagram! I feel like I'm becoming more comfortable with doing it on my own but how did you start becoming so familiar with poses and what poses to do next?

I really want to widen my knowledge on yoga and be able to take it to a new level, but I don't know how to get started on it. I'm a former cheerleader but I lost all my flexibility being out of it for a few years but it's so frustrating knowing I used to be able to do poses that I can no longer do.

So bottom line I'm just very curious to know how you started and what you think is important when one is trying to learn about yoga.

Hope to hear from you soon! Thanks for your time, I really appreciate it.

The question is - how do you start out as a beginner? The world of yoga is so wide and intricate, it can be overwhelming if you are brand new to the practice.

My first suggestion is this: find a good studio somewhere close to your home.

Even if money is tight, save up a bit to start taking a few group classes. I'm not saying sign up for a full year pass, just start out slow and try out a few different sessions, styles and teachers.

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_The best way to learn when you are first starting out is with a teacher.

Starting out on your own at home is great, but having a teacher look at you and show you proper cues of alignment is so valuable. It will keep you from getting injured, and also help your practice grow.

Wondering what style of yoga, you should focus on? You won't know until you've tried! If you're looking to sweat on the mat and want to move a whole lot, you should definitely give Vinyasa Flow a try. If you like set classes that gives you the same repeated sequence each time, try Ashtanga or Bikram, a set of postures in a heated room (although I am not a big fan of heated classes myself). Looking for silence, slow movement and deep stretches? Yin yoga is great!

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There are so many choices out there and the more you try, the easier to get a feel for which style is the best for you.

You'll know when you've found "your" style of yoga - just check in with how you're feeling afterwards. Once you have a little bit of knowledge of what a class consists of and what style of yoga suits you the best, you can start taking your practice away from the classroom.

There are many ways to practice on your own; DVD's, YouTube, online streaming sites, oneOeight.com, or try the free weekly classes at yogagirl.com! The choices are endless.

There are some amazing books out there as well - the more you study, the faster you will learn. Personally, my own practice consists of me rolling out my yoga mat every day and moving my body the way it wants to move. Some days I feel like a good, sweaty practice and I'll spend 90 minutes on my mat moving with my breath. Other days, I just want to do some gentle stretches, or breathing exercises, or some healing poses with my legs up the wall.

I don't have a set plan for what happens on my mat, and that's what works the best for me.

The difficult thing about starting your own home practice is finding the motivation to get on the mat, and also knowing what to do once you're there. This is where the group classes come in. If I'd never taken actual classes, I'd never know what to do on my mat when I'm at home!

In classes is where you learn, where you can ask teachers for advice, where you get assists and also where you get inspiration for your own practice. If it's possible, try to start by taking just one yoga class per week at a studio.

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There are ways to make yoga more affordable, try Groupon, or see if there are student discounts available to you, and many studios also offer donation-based classes with new teachers who need to gather experience teaching. If you're looking for affordable classes, this is your best bet.

The more you practice yoga, the more you'll feel how good it does your body and your soul and the easier it will be to find the money and the time to do it. How about skipping that daily latte for a week? A little saving does go a long way! Or how about choosing to splurge on a yoga mat instead of a new pair of jeans? There are always ways, it's just a question of how we prioritize.

Find a way to practice with a teacher and do that as much as you can without it disturbing your weekly rhythm. Yoga should be a joy, not a must. The best thing is: the more you practice, the more you'll want to practice.

You'll find that yoga is a rhythm that helps you hold the rest of your week in balance. Before you know it, you'll be comfortable rolling out the mat in your own living room on the daily. Or if you travel a lot, doing yoga in airports, hotel rooms and bus stops.

Make sure that you find a teacher that you resonate with.

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A good teacher will never make you feel inadequate. A good teacher makes you feel welcome. A good teacher will inspire you to take your practice to the next step, but also be patient and honor each student as the unique practitioner that they are. Find what works for you.

When in class, don't be nervous! No one is looking at you. No one cares. No one is judging you but yourself.__

Everyone is far too preoccupied with themselves to think about how other people look in this or that pose? Trust me. If you have questions about your body or certain poses you can always ask your teacher. Try to let go of expectation and enjoy the moment. Listen to your body.

I like to say, "No one knows your body like you do so let your body and your breath be your first teacher and let everything I say be secondary".

Meaning: if something doesn't feel right stop or take it down a notch. Want to go further? Go ahead! Cultivate enough awareness to listen to everything your body tells you. It's wise, and if you listen well enough your practice will always be just right. If you have more questions about starting out as a new yogi, comment below!

Love and light,

Rachel

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