Helpful Yoga Tips For Beginners

The ancient practice of yoga is buzzing with popularity and it seems like everyone is doing it. From A-list celebrities and athletes to busy moms, prison inmates, and older adults, yoga is the new workout we all can't get enough of. Research shows cultivating the practice not only increases overall fitness, but it has heart-health benefits, improves body image, and may help with weight loss and/or maintenance (via Harvard Health).

Beyond the physical benefits, yoga has some impressive mental health benefits, too. One 2018 study found that yoga may positively impact overall brain health, brain structure, and brain function, as well as ease neurodegenerative declines. With that said, if you're ready to get started, there are a couple yoga tips you'll want to keep in mind.

One of the perks of yoga is that it can be done almost anywhere. Practice at the park, in your bedroom, in a studio, or on your lunch break in the office — just pick a spot where you're able to move comfortably. "What I would recommend for a beginner is to find a studio that has a beginner series," yoga teacher Cara Maclean tells Livestrong. That way you're able to move through the poses more easily and reduce your risk of injuries.

Wearing supportive clothing and using proper gear should be a top priority. Yoga Basics suggests wearing breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics, and using a non-slip yoga mat for extra cushion for your joints. Don't forget to clean your yoga mat after every use.

Pick a style of yoga that suits you

When it comes to cultivating a yoga practice, it is vital to pick a style of yoga that fits your lifestyle and preference. Not only are you more likely to stick with it, but different yoga styles may align better with your physical or mental fitness goals. If you're looking for a fast-paced, fiery yoga experience, Livestrong recommends Bikram, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, or Power yoga. Data from a 2018 study shows that Power yoga, in particular, may even count as a moderate-vigorous exercise since it gets your heart pumping.

Still, one of the most common forms of yoga in Western cultures is Hatha yoga — which brings relaxation but also challenges your strength, shares Healthline. It focuses on breath control, flexibility, posture, and building core strength, all while you move through various poses. According to a 2016 study, increased core strength and improvements in standing balance are noticeable after 21 days of practicing Hatha yoga. During a Hatha class, you'll find classic yoga poses like mountain pose, downward-facing dog, tree pose, and more.

On the calmer side of yoga are the styles Yin, Restorative, and Kundalini yoga. The poses of Yin and Restorative yoga are generally more passive, notes Livestrong. Yin yoga is meant for strengthening and lengthening the connective tissues near the joints. Meanwhile, Kundalini yoga is intended to bring full awareness into the body through meditation, mantras, poses, and breath work. Restorative yoga can relax the body and relieve chronic stress.

Be aware of some yoga poses before your class

Hopping on your yoga mat may seem intimidating as yoga teachers breeze through various yoga poses. If the poses have ever felt confusing or complicated, you have lots of company. Whether you're choosing an at-home or a studio-based class, one of the best tips to avoid these feelings is to learn and practice some beginner poses before your class (via Yoga Basics). Getting familiar with the names and what the moves look like may help you know what to expect. Feel free to go slowly, and don't feel bad if you need to modify some poses to suit your needs.

According to Livestrong, a few common yoga poses include forward fold (Uttanasana is the official Sanskrit name), cobra pose (Bhujangasana), downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)​, cat cow (Marjaiasana Bitilasana)​, and corpse pose (Savasana)​.

Many of these poses are also part of a larger yoga sequence, called sun salutations or asanas (the Sanskrit name). Traditionally, asanas were used in Hindu worship rituals to give thanks, and now they're a key component in conditioning the body during a sweaty yoga sesh (via Byrdie). During sun salutations, Byrdie points out you'll move through eight different poses: mountain pose (Tadasana), upward salute (Urdhva Hastasana), forward fold (Uttanasana), low lunge (Anjaneyasana), downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)​, plank pose (Phalakasana), four-limbed staff pose (Chaturanga Dandasana), and upward-facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana).