How to Start Yoga

As a yoga teacher, I have had so many people (including close friends and family!!) say the following sentences to me:

  • I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible!
  • How do I get into yoga?

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The first statement is probably one of the most frequent sentences in my everyday life (and it kind of drives me nuts). Here’s why: We practice yoga to become more flexible (and stronger, and more resilient), not because we already are. Sure, some people are born flexible, or have had years of dance classes (me). But for most people, that’s not the case. It’s also important to note that flexibility is not the sole purpose of yoga, and yoga is not just stretching (and for all my athletes– flexibility is uncomfortable, but amazing for injury prevention). I think there is a misconception (a misconception which is slowly disappearing) that yoga is always slow and that it is primarily stretching. In many cases, this is not true.

It’s all about what kind of yoga you choose. Some forms of yoga place more stress on flexibility, and others place stress on stamina and athleticism. There are many different kinds, here’s just a few popular ones broken down into one or two sentences for reference (they are also links, so if you want more info click ’em!).

  • Ashtanga– Ashtanga is a dynamic, demanding, and extremely disciplined form of yoga. It has a set sequence, and and Ashtangis usually practice every day. Classes are usually 60m-2.5h.
  • Hot Yoga– Hot Yoga (sometimes known as Bikram yoga– there are other variations as well), is a sequence of set poses in extreme heat (think 85-105 degrees with high humidity). It’s great for detox, but is very dehydrating. Classes are usually 60-90m.
  • Restorative– This is the type of yoga to do when you need a serious chill-out. It’s very stretchy, and most of the class is spent on the ground sitting or laying on the mat. Lots of props are used, and teachers give a lot of adjustments. Classes are usually 60-90m.
  • Vinyasa– Dynamic and demanding, this practice is similar to Ashtanga, but there is no set flow and each movement corresponds to a breath. Great for creativity. Can be practiced in a hot room, classes are usually 60-90m. Also sometimes known as power yoga.

As far as getting into yoga is concerned, there are plenty of ways to get into it! I’m going to try to break this down as simply as I can, but yoga is something I am passionate about, so it may be difficult. The first question you need to ask yourself is:

What is my comfort level?

When I say this, I mean where are you comfortable starting your practice? If it’s a yoga studio, that’s awesome! If not, are you comfortable in the comfort of your home? In a gym? At your school?

If you answered a studio, gym, or school– Your first step may be looking up places around you that offer yoga classes. Keep in mind that Groupon is a great source for finding discounted memberships in your area if you’re just looking to try it out. For my fellow Baltimorons– my favorite studios are MPower in Canton, 4Warriors in Towson (formerly known as Sid Yoga), and Yogaworks (which has a ton of different locations in the Baltimore and D.C. areas, as well as other locations across the country). There are also tons of gyms that offer yoga classes that are generally a bit more relaxed in nature, and not as full of “yoga people” (if that’s what you’re worried about).

If you are more comfortable doing yoga at home, there are loads of online resources (free, and not free) that are amazing for starting and maintaining a yoga practice. Some of my favorites are as follows:

  • Yogaglo– Yogaglo is an awesome online yoga platform where you can select the length of your practice, the level, and even what you want to target! It’s a really good resource, and the offer a two week free trial which is amazing if you’re on a budget!
  • CodyApp– CodyApp is pretty similar to Yogaglo, except that you purchase individual workshops and series. For example, I bought a series called Journey to Handstand, which breaks down building a handstand practice by strengthening the parts of the body that are used. I also really like CodyApp because you can purchase other workout plans, not just yoga.
  • YouTube– It’s a classic! There are tons of free videos you can access on YouTube to build a practice at home, especially if you’re a beginner. One of my favorite channels is the Alo Yoga channel, which has a mix of long and short videos, and a few specifically geared towards beginners.

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I didn’t want this post to get too long because I wanted it to be accessible, but if you have any questions feel free to reach out in the comments, or message me on Instagram. Everything is linked on my website, so you should be able to find me!





Photos in this post by Lancelot Naipier-Kane.

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