If you're trying to start your own yoga practice, stepping onto the mat might be the hardest part. Maybe you don't know where to start, or the fear of not knowing or feeling good enough is holding you back. We give you our top 10 tips to support you starting your own practice whether in a studio or at home.
1. Do your research
Before starting your practice, research the studios near you or that you like the look of. Find out their class schedule and teachers and find one you feel comfortable with.
If you're starting a home practice, then research some online platforms. YouTube and YogaJournal have a plethora of free videos to choose from. You could also choose a subscription based apps - Alomoves and YogaGlo are some of our favourites.
2. Invest in a mat that you love
One of the best things about starting yoga is that you do not need very much equipment at all! In fact, most studios including ours have all the equipment you need. However, getting your own mat can help you feel motivated and own your home practice.
There are a wide range of mats and props available online. To help you choose the best mat for you, read this best yoga mat article by Yoga Matters.
Some of our favourite mats here in the studio are
The ecoYoga Jute Mat for extra grip, even when sweaty £45
The CorkYogis Classic Cork Yoga Mat for great grip £65
The Liform Travel Yoga Mat for excellent grip and handy alignment markings £85
3. Commit a time and make it achievable
Consider what works best for you - are you a morning person or an evening person? How about squeezing in some yoga on your lunch break? Perhaps you can start making the commitment to take one class a week, or just 10 minutes a day using an online platform. The key is that it fits in with your life.
4. Start with a beginners class
Then you can make sure that the class is tailored to your level if you're just starting out. If you have been practising for a while and looking to get back into it, then a beginners class is also great for reconditioning the body and mind again. Beginner classes are also great as they make space for for the basics and space for curiosity to progress.
Check out our beginner classes here.
5. Watch out for the 3 Ps
Pain, pinching and pushing. If you're new to yoga, or even if you've been practising for some time, it can be difficult to distinguish the boundary between pain and discomfort. In yoga, we are always trying to ride that line between comfort and discomfort but it should never be painful. Usually, pain feels hot and sharp, whereas discomfort feels more dull and nagging. If you do feel pain at all, always move gently and not suddenly out of the pose. Never push yourself through pain as this does your body a disservice. When we push our body to pain, the muscles contract to protect itself so you might end up stiffer than more flexible. If it feels like discomfort, you can always ease deeper into the pose by breathing, softening or using props to assist you further.
6. Plan and Play
It can be overwhelming to decide which yoga class to take. Whether you're taking a class or following an online class. The best way to tackle this is to decide which class you're going to do the day before so that there's no decision making once you start your practice. If you're following an online class, choose and set it up on your laptop the night before, then all you have to do is play.
7. Discover Props
There can be a misconception that using props is a sign of weakness, or lack of flexibility or strength. But props are actually a great way, for yogis of all levels, to help adapt our practice to our unique body structure and can also be used to make our practice more challenging. If you have the money, you can invest in some props. We suggest 2 bricks and a strap, and if you're feeling even more investy, then a bolster is also a great addition. Of course, you can also use things around the house like a belt and books. Taking a yin or restorative class is a great way to experience how props can support you.
8. Make it fun!
When you're starting out, don't take it too seriously! It's just yoga. Have fun with it. If you're falling around and wobbling all over the place, see it as an opportunity to laugh at yourself and also a space for improvement. Everybody has been in the same boat and knows the struggle. A great way to make yoga fun is bringing a friend along. This can help keep you motivated and also keep a lighthearted feel.
9. Stick with it
If you're someone who seeks perfection, let me tell you now that there is no such thing as a "perfect practice". Sometimes, you can spend more time procrastinating - reading hundreds of class descriptions or online classes. When you do finally decide on a class, sometimes it doesn't meet your needs, or that you're just not feeling it. This is particularly common with online classes. But unless there is a genuine reason for stopping, try and see it through. It's the nature of our mind to try and find the perfect practice that feels good to us, but trust us, whatever unfolds, you will learn something on the mat. Often, the biggest lessons come from what we find most challenging so sticking through it it is more beneficial in the long-term.
10. Don't stress
For all its benefits, starting a yoga practice can be one of the most challenging things you might do this year. If finding time to squeeze in a yoga class between work and other commitments is causing you too much stress, then that's fine too. You can always try and fit in a short practice at home. If you skip a few classes or practices, don't take it too hard on yourself. The key is that you show up on your mat for you. Wherever that may be.