How to Start a Yoga Practice

Yoga students preparing for yoga class
Photo Credit: Ashtanga Yoga Ki Jai! with David Garrigues

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. Once you have worked through this list, continue on with our Yoga for Beginner’s section.

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.

2. Start with a brief meditation and intention
Sit in 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 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, forward bend. Then explore our Yoga Pose section for other poses to practice.

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.

Comments 35

  1. I like your site. I’m into yoga for several months now but I’m still learning a lot of things in here.

  2. yoga has always fascinated me, got the chance to practice it once and i have read about its benefit for the mind and body

  3. This is just what I was looking for. Logic told me I couldn’t just start “doing” yoga to truly benefit. Great reading and understanding from the basics to in depth. Giving opportunity to make choice(s) of benefits for the individual.
    Thanks for the site and information. Thank you for giving me this path. Now I can begin my own journey and see where it takes me

  4. After reading my dear friend’s comments, i decided to become a premium member to feel the benefit myself. thank you

  5. I’m a freshman in college and I have learned a lot from this site. I’m really enjoying yoga! Thanks!

  6. I’ve just started within the last week and just found your site today. How have I never found it before? I will definitely be bookmarking this site.

  7. Thank you very much for this site! I am at the very beginning with yoga, this really helps me with the poses.

  8. Am new to Yoga and my MAIN reason to get involved is that, i want to cure my stammering once and for all so i want you to give me the APPROPRIATE postures to follow, i have read enough about it but am still not clear. I would be very greatful in anyone should help me.

  9. I have not started any yoga yet but i am 45 years old and i don’t like the way my body feels…it was suggested to me to take up yoga. I am checking out your site for the first time today. LOTS of info..I love it..very thorough.

  10. I’ m very much interested to start yoga as soon as possible as I don’t like the way I feel and from the information from this site I’m sure it will be of a big help for my change
    Thanks.

  11. Should poses be repeated during a session? If so, what is a beneficial number of repetitions per pose?

  12. ive been inconsistently doing yoga for about 5 months now.And just recently after buying a couple of yoga magazines,I’ve wanted to make yoga apart of my life.Therefore,instead of just following along with yoga instructors on DVD I wanted to create my own yoga routine.Hence, I needed to know a lot more information.This site is helping tremendously with my development into becoming a yogi. Thanks!

  13. glorp719 – Poses do not need to be repeated during a session. Some styles of yoga do repeat them from two to several times. There is no rule about how many times you should repeat a pose.

    shericah – I’m glad to hear the site is helping you deepen your practice. Keep up the good work!

  14. I wish to start with some asanas and pranayam. I have gone through the beginners asanas for whole body and neck. I have also zeroed upon kapalbhati and ujjyai pranayam. Could you guide me as to whether there is any order in which I should begin my asanas and pranayam, as in, which one should follow the other one.

    Dhanyavaad!

  15. Siddharth – You can do asanas and pranayam in any order. I’d recommend starting with energizing pranayamas like kapalbhati and ending with more calming breathing practices or ending with yoga.

  16. valencia – There is no set minimum age, but I would say that when a child feels ready to play sports then he/she should be able to also to start practicing yoga.

  17. I have degenerate bone disease in my L5 and 6.. I am 40 years old and still work and lead a healthy life.. Would yoga be good for me??

    1. Hi Kim, you need to ask your MD or physical therapist if yoga would be good for you. If they say yes you would probably need to modify forward and backbends to keep your low back in a flat neutral position.

  18. Looks like I’m late in this conversation. Oddly, I want to try this type of yoga specifically because I have always had so many hangups about my body. I’m thinking of gong to a class next month… not gonna lie, scared like heck, but I think if I can build confidence with nude around others that are nude, I can build it in my day to day life.

  19. Hey, thank you so much for the information. It has opened my eyes even further to becoming more calm, positive and pure being. I’ve been inspired from my friend in September and now I’ve decided to start practicing yoga, then meditation. I’ve done some research on some spiritual aspects of life and also subscribe to Kino’s youtube channel. She’s really inspiring and my aim is to reach her level and higher.

  20. I absolutely love the “how to start a yoga practice” portion of this website. I am new to practicing and I found these step extremely informative and easy to comprehend. I especially love the hyperlinks and photos that lead to other relevant topics touched on in this topic. I definitely bookmarked this site for reference to use in my yoga journey.

  21. Thanks for the steps to start yoga. I will surely follow the tips you have mentioned. I have newly joined the yoga classes at Sohyaa. However it seems difficult to pose every steps but i know it makes some time to follow it in routine.

  22. Great article. I love the first tip, as it is often the most overlooked in the Yoga world, and yet it is so important.

    I would also recommend beginners to perform the plank pose. It’s a great way to improve wrist, arm, and core strength, whilst being easy to perform correctly.

  23. may i please know if practising yoga should be restricted for morning hours and not evening?

  24. i am 20 year old and i have shoulder problem.my shoulder pain started when i was 12 year old. please give me some tips for pain relief.

  25. FYI — the link to ‘General Practice Guidelines’ doesn’t link there; it instead links to Dirga pranayama

    1. Oops! Thanks for catching that error. It is now corrected and links to the correct page.

  26. The more you practice, the better you ll get at assessing how you feel, so when you first come to the mat, you can choose a practice that counterbalances whatever s going on mentally, physically, and emotionally.

  27. This pretty much makes a great introduction to yoga. In your opinion, how long should a single session last? What’s the optimal duration to get the best results without stressing your body too much? Thanks in advance!

    1. It depends on one’s level of experience but for beginners I’d recommend shorter and more frequent sessions, 30-60 minutes long, and for a total of 3-4 hours (spread over several days) per week.

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