If you’re interested in starting a yoga practice but cannot physically attend classes or have someone guide you, working out from home may be a little intimidating. Here’s all you need to know to safely learn your cobras and down dogs.
Focus on the Basics
Whether you’re regularly working out and staying active with other types of training routines or not, yoga will be new and challenging for your body. Even if you don’t believe it. That’s why you have to approach it as the hardest activity you are about to do and start with the bare basics.
Learn how to use your breath and focus first, and let the movement come second. Yoga is special in the sense that your inhales and exhales matter most, guiding your movements every step of the way. We’re used to holding our breath through poses that are challenging for us, and yoga teaches us how to breathe through them and learn to reap the most benefits.
Once you’ve started following your breath and inner focus, find online beginner classes and learn the basic poses from sun salutations and basic forward folds to backbends and twists. Learn how each pose is called and study its alignment. It might be hard to copy what the person on the screen is doing, if you don’t even know how it should feel in your body.
Luckily, there are tons of great resources you can browse online and learn how each pose needs to look, feel, and be modified for a beginner. Proper alignment and technique are key in every fitness activity as they minimize the risk of injury and inflammation.
Learn how the basic poses are named as well, so you don’t always have to look at the screen when the teacher calls for one. It might completely throw you off balance, mess up your alignment, or have you twist your neck in weird positions that put a lot of strain on your muscles and joints. Learning beforehand sets you up for success, every time.
Get Proper Equipment
Invest in a good grippy mat that won’t have you slipping all over the place when you get sweaty. Some pretty great ones are on the market, like Liforme, Alo Yoga, or Lululemon, so take your pick (and color). Combine it with a good yoga towel that can absorb your sweat and help you be as stable and safe as possible.
Dress up in comfy and stretchy material that won’t get in the way of your practice. Yoga has a lot of up and down movements that can easily bring your shirt over your head and roll down your leggings around the waist. Find something that feels like a second skin and doesn’t suffocate you, but also doesn’t try to slip off when you get in down dog.
Get yourself a yoga block and a strap, so you can easily access and work on the poses that you’re not flexible enough for yet. These accessories exist for a reason, and it’s to help you build up strength and flexibility, as well as increase your range of motion.
Be Patient with Yourself
Starting something new is always fun and challenging, but it can also be intimidating and frustrating if you feel like you’re not progressing as fast as you would want to. Yoga is all about the mind and how to train yourself to become more patient and let things flow at their natural pace.
Grabbing your foot in the extended foot-to-toe pose or touching your head with your feet in king pigeon isn’t something that can be achieved overnight. It takes a ton of practice and adjustments from all different kinds of muscles for your body to open up a certain way and allow the progress to happen.
That’s why yoga is so well-balanced, as there aren’t any isolated movements. Everything you do includes the entire body; every muscle and every joint play their part. Proper alignment places them in the right spot and boom, after months and months (sometimes years) of practice, with the right muscles stretched the right amount and with the right joints expanded their range of motion at the right angle, and you’ve managed to get into the advanced pose without an ounce of struggle.
These kinds of breakthroughs only happen if you don’t force the moves and don’t overuse the wrong muscles, which are trying hard to overcompensate for the right ones that are simply not on that level of flexibility yet.
Be patient with yourself, respect your body’s boundaries, and if you’re dealing with injuries or other types of restrictions like pregnancy, work around them instead of against them, and little by little, your progress will be noticeable.
As with everything in life, consistency is key. Don’t expect to see much progress if you’re only sticking to yoga once every two weeks. Start moving your body with your breath at least two to three times a week and feel yourself loosen up, your spine getting more flexible, and your moves becoming easier and lighter.
Carve out the time in your week for your yoga practice and stick to the schedule. As the great Sri K Pattabhi Jois used to say, “Practice, practice, practice, and all is coming.”
Starting yoga from scratch can seem hard to do if you don’t have someone correcting you and guiding you along the way. These tips will make it less intimidating and easier than you thought, leaving only space for the real transformation to begin.