As with most senior yoga practitioners, I have been approached many times by beginners asking where/how to start yoga, and which teacher/studio is the best. But there is no simple, standard reply!
I was very lucky to start with highly experienced teachers, with more than 20 years of practice, in a simple, humble yoga room, at a very basic and plain community school. No fancy decoration, no luxurious facilities, no fashionable yoga pants! Only white clothes were allowed and any jewellery had to be removed . I only realized afterwards that those were the best teachers and the best school that I would experience for many years.
Since then I have practiced at a lot of yoga studios, gyms, and schools, with many teachers of various nationalities, and in numerous yoga styles. The knowledge I’ve gained from this wide and varied experience, has led me to reflect and conclude on what top tips I would offer someone about to start on their yoga path.
1. Read about the history of Yoga:
You don´t need to become a specialist but the basic principles and backgrounds of yoga will help you understand what it is REALLY about, and what to expect from a class.
2. Try different styles:
Depending on your body structure, your personality, your current situation,etc., you may like one style of yoga more than other. Your friends may love Asthanga or Vinyasa, but maybe that´s not your thing. It´s your choice, so sample different styles and pick the one/s that feels good for you. Your preferences may well change over the years.
3. Try different teachers:
The same style but different teachers can lead you to like or dislike it. It doesn´t mean the teacher is not good, it´s just that you don´t ‘click’ with him/her, at this point in time. Yoga is such a personal experience that you want to feel absolutely GREAT when with your teacher! So seek and you shall find!
4. Listen to your body:
It will give you valuable information. How do you feel after the class? And the following day? It is fine to feel some aches and pains, because you’ve stretched and worked your muscles. But is NOT okay to be hurt or injured. If this were to happen, speak to your teacher before the start of your next class and gain their advice and act on it.
5. Be responsible :
If you have any serious illness or injuries or high blood pressure, ask your doctor if it is safe for you to start yoga and inform your teacher accordingly. Your teacher will likely adapt the class and/or certain poses for you, but if you feel what you are doing does not feel right, STOP, don´t wait for the teacher to tell you. It is your body, so be aware and respectful of it.
You can be so motivated at the beginning that you may want to buy E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G yoga related: straps, blocks, beads etc. The only accessory you really need is a mat, and I would highly recommend you get one of your own. You will share with it your doubts and fears, your gains and struggles, your highs and lows, and even your sweat! It will become your personal MAT-MATE – together through your practise and your development.
7. Music or no music:
Again, this is a personal choice. I personally prefer a silent class as I like to focus more internally and I find music can be distracting. But for others music may be the way to better enjoy and focus on the flow of the class. Both have their benefits.
8. Don’t compare yourself to others.
We all start as beginners, and we have all found difficulties in certain poses and moves. Looking to others may be demoralizing (especially if they are more experienced practitioners), and it will remove the focus from yourself, which is where your attention should be. Instead, acknowledge your improvements week by week, and be proud of yourself!
Stefania Brunori is a Brand Strategist and Founder of Yoginfinity. Holding a Bachelor´s Degree in Business Administration and having been trained in Life Coaching and Design, she is been practicing Yoga and Meditation for more than 15 years, and it´s also passionate about Photography, Arts and Design