HOW TO START A YOGA PRACTICE (4 STEPS)
While there is a lot to learn, discover, and explore in the tradition of yoga, it is best to start simply and not let yourself be overwhelmed.
Our How to Start a Yoga Practice guide will give you the 4 basic steps to starting a yoga practice. We have kept this list short and sweet to make it accessible and easy to accomplish!
4 Steps to Start a Yoga Practice
There are four basic steps to getting started with yoga. We have kept this list to the bare minimum–there is almost an endless amount to learn about both the physical yoga practices as well as the philosophical underpinnings of yoga. Once you have worked through this list, continue on with our Yoga for Beginner section and keep adding to your journey as it feels appropriate.
1. Learn how to breathe
The most important thing to do in yoga is to breathe, especially when holding the postures. Learn the basic Dirga pranayama breath to use during yoga. Most importantly, breathe in and out through the nose into the belly. Read our Breathing in Asana article for more advice on breathing while practicing yoga poses. Most importantly, let your breath be your guide throughout your yoga practice.
2. Start with a brief meditation and intention
Sit in an easy pose or accomplished pose (or any comfortable seating position) and take a few minutes to ground, center and focus inwards with one of our meditations. You may also want to set an intention, goal, or prayer for your practice at the beginning of meditation.
3. Use basic and beginning-level postures
Make sure you have read our General Practice Guidelines before attempting any yoga poses. Start with one of our warm-up sequences and then try one of our basic yoga pose sequences and/or these simple postures: seated twist, cat, dog, down dog, child, cobra, mountain, triangle, and forward bend. Then check out our list of best poses for beginners and explore our Yoga Pose section to find additional poses to add to your practice. It is best to add new poses very slowly.
4. End with Shavasana (relaxation pose)
Always end your yoga practice with Shavasana, resting on your back and consciously relaxing your body for 5-15 minutes. It is also recommended to practice a short seated meditation after Shavasana to integrate your yoga practice and transition back into the world.
Please note that it is common for the first couple of times practicing yoga to feel awkward and strange; this will pass with time and practice. It is essential to be kind and compassionate with yourself as you find your footing in the poses and the breathing. Most importantly, stay present with your experience and accept your current limitations. Once you get comfortable with the practice you may consider setting some appropriate and reachable goals.