Three Easy Steps to Start a Yoga Practice in 2021
Start your year right with a new yoga practice
At the beginning of each year, we often think about some grand plans of what we'd like to try, to do, to accomplish. What if this year you decided to find more calmness and actually found a way to do it? Enter yoga.
The benefits of yoga are numerous, but starting out is often the most daunting part. Will I have to move my body into contortionist poses? What if it's too challenging? What if it's boring? We get into our own heads and before we take the first step, we often talk ourselves out of exactly what we wanted to do.
What can you do differently this year to start a yoga practice (if that's what you're looking to do)?
Here's three easy steps to get started:
1. Decide (and start small)
This sounds far too easy, but it is the first step to anything new you want to do this year.
We get in our own heads and overcomplicate things by thinking we need to get the right clothes, the right body, the right accessories, the exact right program before we start. These things are nice; further down the line, they might be something we decide we need (and by the way, the right body is the body that you have right now).
For now, just decide. Make an actual decision that this is what you want to do and you will find a way to do it. If you haven't made the decision that this is what you want to do, you'll get the yoga mat, the blocks, the straps, the clothes and they will all end up in a corner somewhere collecting dust because you never use them.
I recommend committing to something small - it's always easier to start small than to make a big, grand gesture. Deciding you will commit to an hour of yoga a day is far easier to talk yourself out of at the beginning (I don't have time, I'll just sleep in a little longer, etc) than deciding you will commit to 10 minutes per day.
Deciding you'll learn one new aspect of yoga each day (a breathing technique, a new pose) is also a great way to start.
2. Try it
Look for programs with words like: gentle, easy, beginner.
There are a variety of classes today, from online to in person to one on one. You can typically find them at your local gym, park district, community center and of course at a yoga studio. Online there are many instructors teaching live online classes and a plethora of videos along with websites devoted to yoga.
If you're going to a live class, it's helpful to ask some questions before signing up, such as if the class is appropriate for beginners. If you have any restrictions, it is also helpful to get to class a few minutes early and speak to the instructor directly so they can let you know modifications to fit your body.
If you're starting out online, make sure you're not forcing anything that isn't for you. Know that not every pose will fit every body and your variation may not look exactly like the instructor's variation. Listen for helpful cues (keep breathing, keep a little bend in your knees, only go as far as it feels right today and any variations they offer) from the instructor and honor your own body as you move into any poses.
Note that there are many styles of yoga, so notice what you like and dislike to know what to look for in your next class.
Was the class too slow? Try a more flowing style class, often referred to as vinyasa.
Not calming enough? Look for classes with the words restorative, gentle, meditative or yin.
Too hot? Often times classes are set at specific temperatures, if you are going to a live class at a studio or gym, they typically list the temperature if it is meant to be a hot class.
Too challenging? Look for a different instructor or check out the descriptions of other styles. Stick with more beginner styles instead of those with descriptions that state the words power, vinyasa, advanced, or any mention of inversions.
Too hard to follow? Look for classes that are specific to beginners or consider private or semiprivate sessions with an instructor to start to learn the names of the poses. Or find pose breakdowns online or in books (these would be a great goal as you decide to start your practice - to learn one new pose each day).
Need something specific? There are so many specific yoga classes, both in person and online. You can find specific classes for seniors, prenatal, kids, along with classes for a variety of medical conditions and more.
3. Find what you like and keep learning
Never stop learning. There is no shortage of benefits you can find and what you can learn with yoga. Just as you learn the poses, you'll realize there's much more. Many people come for the poses and stay for all the rest that they find along the way. Yoga poses are just the beginning.
Consistency is key to getting the wonderful benefits that yoga can offer. Just keep going.
Starting a yoga practice is easy - simply decide that's what you want to do, try it out, find what you like and keep learning.