If you are a regular reader of my blogs or follow me on social media, you’ll know that yoga is a huge part of my life. For my entire adult life, I dabbled in the physical practice of yoga on and off, but only in the past four years have I developed a daily practice and become certified as a yoga teacher. I often hear from people that they’d love to start doing yoga too, but they’re unsure of where to begin. This blog post is for you!
If you live in a rural area, yoga studios are few and far between. For my urban friends, sometimes it is just really intimidating to show up at a yoga studio as a complete beginner. Not that it should be–I’ve found yoga communities around the world to be very warm, welcoming, and supportive. But sometimes you just aren’t sure about the level of the class, and practicing beside someone who can do a headstand when you aren’t sure what child’s pose is can be daunting indeed! If you have access to a studio, consider signing up for a “Foundations of Yoga” or beginners’ class. Classes like this will slowly take you through the basics and ensure that you have a thorough understanding of what key poses feel like in your body. If you’re feeling some anxiety, it’s a good idea to talk to the instructor first. Ask if they are comfortable with providing options for yogis of all abilities and if the instructor recommends their class for new yogis.
A few private sessions are not as pricey as you’d think and can go a long way to helping you feel comfortable on your mat. I began my yoga practice with private sessions with a yoga instructor and my best friend. It was a wonderful introduction to the practice and made me realize that yoga was key to managing stress and taking care of myself. But my private sessions were only once a week and I wanted to learn more on my own and practice on a daily basis. I had a couple of friends who mentioned 30 Day Yoga Challenges, so I decided to begin one on my own. Since then, I’ve discovered a number of great online tools, classes, and challenges.
My Favourite Free Yoga Resources
Since last spring, I’ve been filming semi-regular short yoga videos that I release on Mondays. These practices range in length from 10-20 minutes and focus on flow and yin styles of yoga. If you’d like a longer practice, I’d recommend playing a couple of the videos–beginning with joint mobility, then a gentle flow, then concluding with a yin video. These videos are free and are available through my YouTube channel (linked above).
For the past year, I lived in Victoria, BC, where I became part of a vibrant yoga community. My dear friend, Melissa Krieger, is a well-known Victoria-based yoga teacher with excellent online offerings. I recommend checking out her classes on Do Yoga with Me…there are free classes with Melissa and other talented instructors, and subscription options as well. Melissa also has some fantastic classes on her website, Bloom Yoga, and hosts retreats on beautiful Salt Spring Island twice per year.
This was my first 30 day yoga challenge and it had a huge impact on me. Although Adriene can be really chatty and somewhat annoying, she does know what she’s talking about. She really encourages you to listen to your body and “find what feels good”. She has tons of free content on her website, and you can sign up to have a weekly class sent to your inbox.
Erin Motz is my one of my favourite online yoga instructors. She is very down-to-earth and accessible for new yogis, but her videos have a nice level of challenge to move you forward in your practice. If you visit her blog, she has lots of free content, and you can also sign up to receive a free weekly class emailed to you. Erin is a huge figure in yoga counter-culture and maintains that we need to take the snobbery and pretentiousness out of yoga–yoga is for everyone and every body type.
What supplies do you need to get started?
Truthfully, you can practice yoga on the floor in your bare feet with no props or mats. However, it is more comfortable with a mat. If you’re not sure that yoga is for you, I’d suggest picking up an inexpensive mat, such as this Gaiam one from Amazon. If you continue to practice and want something more supportive, I’d recommend purchasing a B Mat Strong. These mats are my absolute favourite…learn more in an upcoming post!
I would also recommend two blocks. You can purchase inexpensive foam blocks that work well, such as these ones for $12 a set. A yoga strap isn’t a must (you can always use a scarf), but a strap is very inexpensive and I always like to have the proper equipment. A strap is invaluable in seated forward fold if you can’t reach your toes yet, and as well as variety of other poses!
Important Points to Remember
They say it takes weeks to develop a new habit, so try and carve out a bit of time each day to explore yoga–even 15 minutes! I prefer to practice in the morning–it is a wonderful start to my day and no matter how crazy my day turns out to be, I’ve already got my yoga in! Pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee and put some music on…make this a special time for yourself.
Some days you just won’t feel like doing yoga. For those times, I have a rule that all I have to do is get on my mat and do child’s pose (still wearing my pajamas). Sometimes I’ll stay in child’s pose for ten minutes, but usually it feels so nice that I’m inspired to do more. It’s getting on your mat this is the important part…staying there is easy!
Listen to your body. If it hurts, don’t do it! Pay attention to what your body is telling you. A bit of discomfort in a new pose is normal, but pain is not. And always make sure that your body is warmed up before increasing the demands on it!
Lastly, remember to breathe. Linking breath with movement is what makes yoga the transformative practice it is. And don’t forget to be kind to yourself and enjoy every step of this new journey you have started!