You’ve heard about yoga, it’s benefits and how people across the globe benefit from its blissful relaxation. Maybe you saw the Youtube video of the 90-year-old woman doing yoga with ease and want a bit more of what she’s got…?

You are standing on the edge, ready to take the leap into the practice of yoga, but there are some questions and potential fears holding you back. Luckily, that’s normal.

Here’s what you need to know about yoga and a quick and easy guide to get your yoga FAQs answered.

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Get Excited About the Benefits of Yoga

If you need a bit more convincing to start your yoga, the benefits of yoga are what attracts most people and here’s a simple summary of how you can benefit:

  • Improved muscular flexibility
  • Help to reduce stress and anxiety
  • Yoga will aid your body to balance all functions and hormones
  • Boost your metabolism and practice your way to weight-loss
  • Decrease the risk of heart disease and other diseases

Science is proving daily how yoga benefit people in their approach to become healthy, happy and more mindful. For more yoga information for beginner, types of yoga, a brief history on yoga and how science proved some of the benefits, read some of our other yoga articles.

Open to yoga
The most valuable gift you'll get from yoga will be invisible. A quiet mind and peaceful approach to daily life - Image by Oluwakemi Solaja on Unsplash

Starting out Yoga and Learning on Your Own

Taking on yoga on your own is completely possible, it is however tricky if you don’t know anything about yoga.  Learning the poses for the first time is much better and easier with an experienced teacher showing you the ropes. An experienced yoga teacher is also ideal if you have any injuries or want to target specific aspects in your yoga. They are also perfect motivators, and a lot of yogis will incorporate some valuable mindfulness techniques in their practice.

The yoga requirements for a beginner yoga are an openness, patience and a quiet space to practise (even a yoga mat it optional). Finding an online class would be ideal as you’ll need to see how to get in and out of poses while you lay the foundations of your practice.

What you need for yoga
All you need to get started is a quiet space and a yoga mat. An online class or some guidance will make the process a lot easier than researching all the poses - Image by Cottonbro on Pexels

Where or How do I Improve?

A lot of new yogis wonder how they will ever get to do a crow pose, headstand or even the correct posture in a downward facing dog.  Everyone was once new at yoga and like everything else in life it’ll take some time to get used to the poses and how they make your body feel.

Don't be afraid of being embarrassed in a group class, because most people are so focused on getting it right themselves that they don’t focus on you.  Besides, yoga should be about you making contact with your mind and body; purely the practice of focussing on what’s happening in you and your body is in itself a practice already.

The Best Yoga Mat to Get

Getting the correct yoga mat will help you practise yoga wherever you’d like to, some people prefer a blissful practice in the garden while other make the most of their lounge or bedroom. Without a proper yoga mat your knees might get hurt and because there’s sometimes pressure on your wrists. Choosing the right mat that will stabilise your hands and help with balance while providing some cushioning.

A cheaper yoga mat could be sufficient as a beginner as you’ll learn with time what works for you and what not, but if you are searching for the ideal yoga mat you need to consider the following:

  • Thickness – A mat that’s too thick will make balancing more challenging, while a mat that’s too thin might not provide the cushioning you need for your knees.
  • Material – Some PVC mats are toxic and other mats are too stretchy. Find a yoga mat that’s made of natural materials like a cork or natural rubber mat and be sure you opt for a non-slip mat, especially if you are planning to do hot yoga, Bikram yoga or just work up a proper sweat in your yoga classes.
  • Price – Finding the right balance between quality and price is always a tricky one. A cheaper mat might be better when you start out, but if you are serious about your practice it’s probably better to opt for a quality rubber mat.

There are hundreds of yoga mats and props available on Takealot.com or at your nearest sports shop.

Yoga Mat
Choosing a yoga mat can be tricky as you need to find one that provides stability and cushioning - Image by Cottonbro on Pexels

Do I Need Any Yoga Props?

The quick and short answer is no. Props can be incredibly useful in ensuring your alignment and balance is correct.  If you go for Iyengar, some Hatha classes or Yoga Nidra you might get to experience how props can aid you. While you are starting out you can use items around the house as props; use books wrapped in a towel or pillows to prop and support you where needed.

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George
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5 (5 review/s)
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Samantha
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5 (2 review/s)
Samantha
R300
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1st lesson free!
Kerishma
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5 (1 review/s)
Kerishma
R150
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1st lesson free!
Neville
5
5 (2 review/s)
Neville
R150
/h
1st lesson free!
Laura
5
5 (7 review/s)
Laura
R400
/h
1st lesson free!
Zoë
Zoë
R400
/h
1st lesson free!
George
5
5 (5 review/s)
George
R400
/h
1st lesson free!
Thana
Thana
R400
/h
1st lesson free!
Khungeka
Khungeka
R150
/h
1st lesson free!
Samantha
5
5 (2 review/s)
Samantha
R300
/h
1st lesson free!
Kerishma
5
5 (1 review/s)
Kerishma
R150
/h
1st lesson free>

Is Learning about the History and Theory of Yoga Important?

Yoga has a rich history, and the ancient wisdom of these practices formed a lot of the beliefs and practices we use today without even knowing it. The internet has a lot of research available on the history of yoga, but the most important part about yoga is learning about your body, mind and how the two of them can come together in synergy and balance.

Some people might be hesitant to do yoga due to the eastern philosophies that goes against their core religious beliefs. The best advice we can give you is do the research to find out whether it appeals to you, the yoga types you prefer and how you can draw from the benefits of yoga in a way you are comfortable with.

Use your intuition to filter and use that from yoga which you can benefit from.

There are a lot of online resources to aid you in developing a sound understanding yoga, it’s history and how our physiology and mental health gets uplifted by this ancient practice.

Finding the Right Style of Yoga for You

With all the modern and traditional yoga styles out there, there are certainly something for each and every yogi. Some yoga types include just a physical practice while others focus more on the philosophical and spiritual aspects.

Developing a basic understanding around the various types of yoga to guide you into finding which type you like most.

Whether you go for the more sweaty, physical yoga, or the type that will focus more on mindfulness with the possible inclusion of mantras, learning about the various poses and their benefits will help you perfect your asanas to get the maximum benefit from it.  A good yoga teacher will aid you in this process as they’ll drop these pearls of wisdom in the classes they give you.

Can you learn yoga at home?

Aerial Yoga
Aerial yoga is where you do yoga while being suspended in the air - Image by Thirdman on Pexels

Becoming the Observer of Your Mind and Body

The ultimate aim of Yoga is to create a state of balance and blissfulness in you. Through yoga we develop a mind-body connection, and you’ll learn that messages run not only from your mind to your body to create movement and autonomic functions, but that your body holds an intelligence in itself. Through yoga you’ll tap into this bodily intelligence and wisdom and learn to use it to calm yourself down, recognise signs of stress or even use other physical breathing exercises to encourage a state of focus.

Meditation and mindfulness are getting more and more focus as we try and reduce stress, improve focus and create better well-being in today’s rushed and modern life. A good yoga practice will include some form of meditation and for a lot of people this is where the biggest benefit lies as you’ll learn to develop self-love, compassion and practical techniques to manage yourself through daily life. There’s a wide range of documentaries available on Netflix that can give you an insight into how meditation can impact you.

How to Listen to Your Body

Developing a stronger connection between your mind and body means you’ll also learn how to identify and listen to the signals your body gives you. This can help you to notice red flags your body send you during stressful situations. You’ll learn to relax muscles where you usually hold your tension, improve your sleep, and notice when you need to tap into coping methodologies you’ve learned in yoga and meditation.

Knowing and listening to your body is probably one of the most important pieces of yoga information for beginners.

A lot of new yogis try and get to the exact asana or pose as the teacher on an online class, but they forget that they still need to develop those muscles, flexibility and abilities. Knowing your limits and when you are pushing your body too far is critical as this will prevent injury and having the patience to come back to your mat will ensure you improve those poses until you are an expert yogi.

Our bodies have different habits & patterns and well-trained yoga teachers will ensure they give you safe poses to begin with until you gradually work into more complex asanas.

Become Quiet
Listening can be a very spiritual experience. Once you are intuitively in touch with your body, you'll be able to sense things in it without even moving - Image by Kampus Production on Pexels

Can You Combine Yoga with Other Sports?

Some sports, like running, have repetitive movements that causes the shortening of muscles. Lifting weights in gym or doing other forms of strength exercise can greatly benefit your muscle and bone strength, but you’ll also require adequate stretching and movement to give your body the youthfulness and mobility it requires to age well.

The great benefit of combining yoga with running is the fact that you can do it almost anywhere; all you need is a place to run and your yoga mat. Yoga is also a great 'warm-up' before and/or ‘cool-down’ after a good run and there are plenty of poses that can assist in stretching and lengthening your hamstrings and quadriceps (the Major muscles used for running).

Yoga doesn’t only target the core muscles with increased flexibility, it also works on your joints, tendons, wrists, knees, ankles and feet.  Lastly, Yoga is one of the best ways to balance your spine and create alignment. All these benefits will positively influence your overall posture, running, or any other sport you choose to combine with yoga.

Here’s some more information on how yoga and running can benefit you.

Some Final Warnings for New Yogis

Similar to anything new, ensure you do your research and look after your own body.  Ask a trainer, yoga teacher or even your doctor if you are uncertain about any conditions, diseases or challenges that might hamper you or place you in danger.  Here are some of the core, and important warnings, before you attempt yoga on your own:

  • Don’t do yoga if you are pregnant without the advice and guidance of your doctor and an experienced pre-natal yoga teacher
  • Be careful of aggregating injuries, even those old ones might come back.  Back injuries need extra care
  • Yoga has been proven to help with high blood pressure, but it’s advisable not to practice at home as it can cause spells of dizziness and you might hurt yourself.
  • Ok it with your doctor if you have any chronic condition that influences your heart health or fitness

Yoga is all about nurturing and being good to your body.

We hope your discovery of yoga is a pleasurable one. Filled with health, joy and bliss.

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Mauritz

Writer and qualified yoga instructor, who is passionate about health and well-being.