How to Start a Yoga Practice
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.