Downward dog, reverse warrior, child’s pose and chatur—what?
Yoga poses may sound like another language, but don’t let that intimidate you.
Anyone can start practicing yoga! Use this as a general guide to get started and begin engaging your mind, body, and spirit through yoga today.
Not all yoga provides the same experience - some classes can leave you dripping in sweat while others can make you feel extremely relaxed. Use the list of class descriptions below to help you determine a class you’ll enjoy.
There is no one right place to practice yoga. As long as you have a quiet and relaxing environment, you can practice yoga almost anywhere— at home, outside, at a studio, and even on a paddleboard! If you are a beginner, practicing yoga at a studio is helpful because the teacher can guide you and correct your poses. However, there are plenty of great yoga videos online for free - including our own Health Education & Promotion curated playlists on Youtube! Some classes and videos are already listed in our Movement Calendar, a Google Calendar layer that is easy to add to your own! Practicing yoga at home is very convenient, and it allows you to choose the length and type. Regardless of where you practice, try to devote that time to being present to help focus on your poses and breath.
Prepare Yourself for Success
- First and foremost, make sure you are comfortable during your yoga practice. It’s best to wear light clothing that allows you to move freely and some people also prefer form-fitting clothing. Choose what feels best for you.
- Yoga is typically practiced barefoot, so there’s no need to worry about shoes!
- Some studios provide mats for free or a small fee, but you may want your own if you plan to practice at home. If you purchase your own mat, make sure you get one that is sticky or textured enough to grip to the floor, your hands and feet. If you’re allergic to latex, avoid buying mats made of natural rubber.
- Studios usually provide blocks and straps if you would like to use them for support. If you are practicing at home, you can use makeshift items like books and cans.
- If you are practicing Bikram or Hot Yoga, it is recommended that you use a towel the length of your mat to prevent slipping and bring a small towel to wipe your sweat.
- Don’t forget H2O! It’s important to bring water with you and make sure you are hydrated before you start practicing yoga (especially if you choose Bikram or Hot Yoga). Check out the H2O station map to see where you can refill your water bottle on campus.
- Hatha- A slower moving class that focuses on the basics and requires you to hold each pose for a few breaths. This class is great for beginners!
- Ashtanga- Consists of six series of sequenced poses, performed in the same order every class. This is great for individuals that enjoy routine and guidelines in their yoga practice.
- Vinyasa Flow- Links movement to breath for an invigorating class that flows through the poses at a quick pace to increase your heart rate. If you like sweating and desire a more heart pumping yoga experience, this class is for you!
- Bikram- Consists of a specific series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises practiced in a room heated to approximately 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. You will sweat...A LOT. All studios practice Bikram for 90 minutes, so make sure you are hydrated and remember to take it easy as a beginner.
- Hot Yoga- Practiced in a heated room, like Bikram, but teachers have freedom to choose their own series of poses rather than sticking to the 26-pose Bikram sequence. This class is best for sweat lovers seeking a deeper stretching experience.
- Restorative- Think mellow and slow moving. This class can feel more rejuvenating than a nap. You will use props like blocks and blankets to fully support your body in each pose. This class helps your body recover from strenuous workouts and is great for people that want a relaxing experience.
Benefits of Yoga
Including yoga in your routine is a great way to improve your overall health and well-being. Practicing yoga can:
- Increase your flexibility
- Increase your muscle strength
- Improve your energy
- Improve your cardio and circulatory health
- Improve your range of motion and balance
- Reduce your anxiety and stress
- Improve your energy and mood
- Improve your posture and alignment
More Tips for Yoga
- Try not to be discouraged when you can’t get into a posture at first. Many postures take a lot of practice.
- If you feel comfortable, tell the yoga instructor that you are new so they can offer extra help.
- If you put a towel on your mat, you can spray it with water to keep it from moving.
Starting something new can be intimidating, but keeping a positive attitude can make it a fun adventure. If yoga sounds intriguing to you, then give it a go and start reaping the mental, emotional, and physical well-being benefits!