Yoga is a perfect blend of both mental and physical stimulation and relaxation that can be practiced by anyone regardless of age or gender. But if you are hoping for simple yoga for beginners, there are a still a lot of things to consider before getting started that may feel a bit overwhelming–especially when you are hoping to just jump right in. To help save you the stress, here is our ultimate guide to yoga for beginners that will help break down all your questions and set you in the right direction towards your new yoga life!
There are a ton of great benefits that happen to your body, your mind, and your spirit when you start doing yoga, especially yoga for beginners. Physically, it’s a great way to increase your flexibility, tone your body and strengthen your muscles, and some of the more cardio-intense ones can help you lose weight.
Mentally as well, yoga can help you to unplug and relax. It teaches you how to manage stress and with its focus on meditation and breathing techniques, it can help improve your mental well-being and provide you with means of coping in high stress situations.
Best of all though, there are different kinds of yoga practices that cater to any level. Whether you are starting fresh into the world of fitness, are a professional athlete, or just looking for some mental relaxation, there is literally a pose and level of difficulty for every need. But before you can start benefiting from yoga, you first need to know which pose is for you.
Knowing Which Pose Is For You
If you simply google “yoga poses” you’ll probably quickly become overwhelmed with the many different styles and poses that yoga offers. From actual yoga poses such as lotus, sun warrior, or cat-cow, to yoga that targets muscle pain, stress relief, or strengthening, there are a lot of options.
Obviously you want to choose something that will help you the most, and if you are looking for some yoga for beginners, it can be hard to know which is best. To help break it all down and all the options out there, here are the top 10 main types of yoga.
1. Iyengar (Iyen-gar)
What to expect: This combines standing and seated postures with the use of different props (blocks and straps).
If you are wanting to: Focus on alignment and posture.
Benefits: It increases your muscular power and range of motion, helps relieve body pain and stretches the muscles.
2. Ashtanga (Ash-tanga)
What to expect: A set sequence of poses that have a strong emphasis on breath.
If you are wanting to: Follow a fast-paced and physically challenging class (more recommended for experienced yoga practitioners).
Benefits: Stronger muscles and decreased stress.
3. Viniyoga (Vini-yoga)
What to expect: Much more of a focus on breathing and meditation.
If you are wanting to: Have less movement and focus on your internal state.
Benefits: Relaxation, body awareness, and better posture.
4. Jivamukti (Jiva-muk-tea)
What to expect: A combination of meditation, compassion, chanting, and listening.
If you are wanting to: Combine spiritual elements and the ancient teaching of yoga.
Benefits: Body awareness, improving relationships.
5. Hatha (Ha-ta)
What to expect: Slower-paced classes focused on breathing and holding poses (perfect yoga for beginners).
If you are wanting to: Focus on a grounded yoga style that has more standing poses and development of self-awareness.
Benefits: Calms the body, mind, and spirit for meditation.
6. Vinyasa (Vin-ya-sa)
What to expect: A faster pace than Hatha, which focuses on breathing and moving through poses and postures to help build strength.
If you are wanting to: Focus on a more athletic, dynamic style of yoga.
Benefits: Builds up lean muscle and cardio (great for weight loss).
7. Bikram (B-ih-kr-uh-m)
What to expect: Also known as hot yoga, this is practiced in a heated room (105ºF / 40.6ºC). There are 26 poses and 2 breathing techniques for 90 minutes.
If you are wanting to: Follow a repetitive routine, don’t mind the heat or physical and mental effort.
Benefits: Sweat out any toxins, improves circulation.
8. Kundalini (Kunda-lini)
What to expect: Combines repeated movements, dynamic breathing, mantras, chanting, and meditation.
If you are wanting to: Focus on spiritual and physical practice, and are not shy or quiet.
Benefits: Improvement on mental focus and inner self.
What to expect: Slower-paced style where poses are held for 3 to 5 minutes (also great yoga for beginners).
If you are wanting to: Relieve chronic pain, stress, or loosen tight muscles, or just want to slow down.
Benefits: Releases tension, regenerates, rejuvenates, restores range of motion.
What to expect: Very gentle, poses are held for 10 minutes or more. Props (blankets, bolsters, straps) are used a lot (great for beginners or as an intro to a gentler yoga).
If you are wanting to: Relieve chronic pain or release stress.
Benefits: Calms the nerves and mind.
Home Yoga Or Studio Yoga
Now that you know which style of yoga you want to try, the next decision you need to make is whether you want to do yoga at home or join a class at your local studio.
Either option is fine, but it comes down to the amount of time you have, money, if you prefer working out alone or with other people, and if there is a studio near you. If you are starting out as an absolute beginner though, it might be worth while considering taking at least a few classes with an instructor to make sure that you learn how to do each pose correctly. It’s also a great way to test out some of the different yoga styles to find out which one works best for you. Once you do settle on a style, you can decide whether or not to continue in a class or switch to home yoga.
Benefits And Disadvantages Of Home Yoga
The obvious benefits to practicing yoga at home are the convenience and that it’s free—unless you are paying for an online course. You can customize your own practice routine and time frame based around what works for you, and the privacy gives you the chance to really focus on yourself without the distractions of other people. If you choose home yoga, you can also consider joining groups that meet outside in the summer. That way you still get the freedom to choose when you go, and as the groups are usually volunteers, it will still be free.
The disadvantages, however, especially if you are just starting out with yoga, is that it might be easy to develop poor habits or opt to skip out on a daily yoga practice. Without the set structure and guidelines from an instructor and class, you miss out on that extra guidance and instruction. If you also attempt a new move, you may injure yourself if you aren’t careful.
Benefits And Disadvantages Of Studio Yoga
A great benefit from taking a yoga class at a studio is you get the guidance and support from a trained instructor who can not only guide you through the moves but encourage you to go deeper. You will also be surrounded by other people all learning or advancing through yoga, so it’s a great way to meet new people or become part of the yoga community. Often there are yoga retreats that you can join, that take you away for a few days or weeks to where you will focus solely on yoga and meditation practices.
A disadvantage is going to be the cost of yoga classes. Depending on whether you get a gym membership, just pay for a yoga class, and whether you attend a few times a week or everyday, the prices for each will vary, and it will really depend on what sort of budget you can afford. Some gyms offer memberships that include the cost of offered classes, but at some you have to pay extra. So it’s important that you know what your local gym or studio has to offer.
Equipment And Props
Depending on how serious and committed you want to get with yoga, there are a few things that you may want to consider buying or investing in.
Choosing what to wear is important because you want something that is both comfy but also that you can freely move around in. The most popular is obviously yoga pants, but you can also wear shorts or any other loose clothing if that is what you feel comfortable in.
Buying a yoga mat is probably one of those items you will want to invest in, especially if you choose to work out from home. It’s not that you won’t be able to practice yoga without a mat, but it does provide cushioning on your knees, gives you a clear space where you will be holding each pose, and you won’t be slipping around on any slippery floors.
As you get into more advanced yoga and new moves, you may come across instructions that call for yoga blocks, straps, or blankets. If you practice at home, you don’t have to buy these props, and some videos may even offer home alternatives that you can substitute. Studios will probably have extra, so if you practice at your gym, you can borrow what you need. That being said, these props are there to provide support and ease in your practices, so it is something to consider. But you can also use household items to test the poses before committing to buying the items from a yoga store.
Ready, Set, Yoga!
And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! This yoga for beginners is just the starting point. Once you start practicing yoga, be sure to keep at it and you will start seeing the differences in both your life and your body! Progress at your own pace, and pretty soon you will be a yogi master! Now get out there and ready, set, yoga!