How to Start Doing Yoga

Tips for Yoga Beginners and a 30-Day Home Practice Plan

Yoga class
Cara Slifka/Stocksy United

Deciding that you want to start doing yoga is the first step. Now you need to follow through with finding the right yoga class and practicing yoga at home. See how to take the next steps and start enjoying the pleasures and benefits of yoga.

Pick a Yoga Type

You'll see there are many types yoga classes, and some won't be the right match for your personality and physical fitness level. Take a few minutes touring an overview of yoga styles.

For most beginners, a hatha or vinyasa class will be most appropriate, depending on whether you want a slow or fast-paced class. These are basic styles, and you can always try something fancier later.

While many great yoga books and videos are available, there is no substitute for learning directly from a good teacher in a yoga class. If you cannot get to a yoga class, start with any beginner's video, as this will give you more visuals to follow than a book.

Find a Class

You can find a yoga class in your area by checking local alternative newspapers or wellness magazines for listings. If you belong to a gym, many offer yoga classes. Make sure you start with a basic level class; finding a good teacher will help you stick with it. If you don't click with the first teacher you go to, keep trying until you find one you like.

What to Expect at a Yoga Class

On the first day, you will not need to bring much except some comfortable, breathable clothing.

Read up on basic yoga equipment you will encounter. Most studios have yoga mats that can be rented.

In a typical yoga class, the students place their mats facing the front of the room (often identifiable by a small altar or by the teacher's mat) in a loose grid. It's best not to line up your mat exactly with the one next to it because you and your neighbor will need some space in certain poses.

The students often sit in a cross-legged position waiting for class to start or do some gentle stretching.

Here is how a typical class flows:

  • The teacher may start class by leading the class in chanting "om" three times. Depending on the teacher, there may be a breathing exercise or short meditation at the start of class.
  • This is followed by warm-up poses, more vigorous poses, then stretches, and final relaxation. At any time, take child's pose if you need some rest.
  • Sometimes the teacher will go around to each student during final relaxation and give them a little massage. Most teachers end class with another round of oms.
  • Know that you may be a little sore the day after your first class.

30 Days of Yoga at Home

Yoga seems to be everywhere but it still can be tough to get out a mat and to begin to put poses together. This 30-day schedule is designed to get you going by providing specific yoga routines for each day and laying out a schedule of increasingly challenging workouts. Once you start enjoying all the benefits of yoga, you'll want to keep doing it, so make this the first month of your new life as a yogi.

Tips to get started:

  • You will need about 15 minutes to do your daily stretch routine and 30 to 45 minutes to do your expanded routines.
  • Feel free to add more poses to your daily routine if you have time.
  • You can always take a yoga class instead of your longer home practices if you prefer.
  • Don't get discouraged if you skip a day of the planned schedule. Just resume your program the next day.

Yoga doesn't require too much equipment, but there are a few things you'll want to gather ahead of time. First and foremost is a yoga mat. Beginners practicing at home can also benefit from having a block, a strap, and a blanket handy.

Get to Know Your Daily Stretches and Sun Salutation Sequence

This daily stretch routine will be the backbone of your home practice.

This sequence can be done in 10 to 15 minutes and is designed to wake up the spine, relieve minor back pain, and stretch the hamstrings. Doing these stretches in the morning is a great way to get your day going. You'll do this routine each day for the next 30 days to maintain the continuity of your practice between longer routines done three times a week.

Sun salutations will form the basis of your thrice weekly longer yoga routines. It may look confusing at first, but it will soon be second nature.

Day One

  1. Warm up with your daily stretch routine, completing steps 1 to 5 of the sequence.
  2. Add on three sun salutations.
  3. Spend a few minutes relaxing in corpse pose.

Your First Week

Over the course of your first week, you'll do the daily stretch routine each day. Add in sun salutations every other day. Plan on incorporating standing poses and seated stretches to make a longer workout at least three times a week. Don't forget to spend a few minutes in corpse pose at the end of each session.

Think about what time of day you plan to do your practice. It's nice to do it in the morning if you have time so that you can start your day stretched out and stress-free, but pick the time that works best for you.

Schedule for the first week:

  • Day 1: Daily Stretch Routine + 3x Sun Salutations
  • Day 2: Daily Stretch Routine + 3x Sun Salutations + Seated Stretches
  • Day 3: Daily Stretch Routine
  • Day 4: Daily Stretch Routine + 3x Sun Salutations + Standing Poses
  • Day 5: Daily Stretch Routine
  • Day 6: Daily Stretch Routine + 3x Sun Salutations + Standing Poses + Seated Stretches
  • Day 7: Daily Stretch Routine

For the remainder of your month-long introduction, you'll continue the rhythm of a daily short stretching routine while adding some variations to your longer sequences.

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

By completing this 30-day introduction, you'll get into the habit of doing a daily yoga practice. Continue to practice your short stretch routine daily and a longer practice three times a week and you will be well on your way to establishing a long-term yoga regime that will improve your health and physical fitness.

Dos and Don'ts for Yoga

Use these tips to prepare for class or your practice at home:

Don't...

  • Don't have a big meal right before class. Try eating lightly a few hours before the start of class or your home practice.
  • Don't drink water while doing yoga, but have some before and after.
  • Don't wear shoes or socks while doing yoga.

Do...

  • Check the​ yoga tips for more on what to expect.
  • Review yoga etiquette, so you feel very comfortable entering an unfamiliar situation.
  • Tell the teacher it's your first class (you probably won't be the only one).
  • Ask the teacher for help if you need it.
  • Familiarize yourself with some beginners' yoga poses before you take your first class.
  • Come back in a few days for your next class!

A Word From Verywell

You may feel awkward or intimidated when you start practicing yoga, but joining in a live class is the best way learn to do the poses correctly. Everyone there was once a beginner. By knowing what to expect, you can focus on learning the techniques. After you have learned the basics, you can practice at home and make progress with yoga.

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