June 21 is International Yoga Day! Suddenly, I wanted to speak to those of you who would like to get started in the practice of this sport. I give you my 8 tips to get you started in the best way.
Yoga: the trendy practice with many benefits
If you are there, it is that the practice of yoga interests you. In any case, you probably know that this sport is more and more trendy and accessible. There are many specialized studios in most cities, the gyms offer courses, the Internet is full of content on the subjects and all online coaches (Instagram, blogs…) now offer Yoga programs.
The offer is plentiful especially in the big cities, the practitioners are more and more numerous and it can sometimes be a little complicated to know how to start well not to give up in 3 months. I will give you my little advice, based on my experience, to try to help you!
First of all, let’s talk about benefits. Because yes, if yoga is trendy it is not for nothing. Its practice offers many benefits. On the physical level first, regular yoga practice will allow you to soften, stretch your muscles but also to work them in depth which will give you a more drawn silhouette.
In addition, yoga is very beneficial for strengthening the back. Its practice helps a lot if you tend to feel tension in the lower back due to a sitting position at the office for example. Working the muscles will also strengthen your joints and develop your strength. Yoga is great for working the abs among others.
Then, yoga, beyond the practice of sport, is a philosophy and during a session, we work a lot on breathing and sensations in the body. So, for many, yoga has an anti-stress effect and allows you to decompress after a hard day. The notion of letting go is important in yoga, its practice therefore helps you to become more Zen.
Finally, breathing control is very beneficial for the body. It brings better oxygenation to our brain, our blood, our muscles…
Of course, we are all different and the practice of this sport will not necessarily have the same impact on each person but it is recognized that yoga brings many benefits beyond the simple fact of being in motion. There are therefore very good reasons to want to embark on this practice. The question now is how?
1. Free yourself
The first step when you want to get started is to free yourself from what you may have heard about yoga, the fears you may have, the preconceived ideas that exist…
“I am not flexible enough” “I am not thin enough” “I am a man”…
Try to forget all the stereotypes that you have on yoga to approach the practice in all serenity and especially by being benevolent towards yourself. It is very unlikely that you will succeed in a handstand from your first session but it does not matter. You will have time to progress.
2. Choose your practice
My second piece of advice, and this is probably the most important, is to choose the right practice. There are many forms of yoga that can be very different and do not have the same goals.
I will quickly introduce you to the most common forms:
- Hatha Yoga : It is the most traditional yoga since it envelops all kinds of yoga. It adapts to everyone, so that through postures, stretching, breathing, the body is prepared for meditation. It allows to work both body and mind while improving your flexibility and working your bodybuilding.
- Ashtanga Yoga : This dynamic form of yoga involves rapid sequences of positions that combine breathing and action. It strengthens the power of the muscles and also improves your flexibility.
- Kundalini Yoga : Kundalini is intended for people who are already used to the world of yoga. Between stable postures, choreographies and breathing exercises, the goal is above all to focus the session around the spine.
- Power yoga : This form of practice is the most dynamic of all and puts everything on the body. Meditation is relayed in the background in favor of muscle building. It allows active relaxation and unprecedented muscle strengthening.
- Vinyasa Yoga : This type of yoga is based on the sequence of choreographies and stable postures in harmony with breathing. It develops an unparalleled synergy between breathing and bodybuilding and helps you improve your balance and flexibility.
- Bikram Yoga : This very intense yoga is practiced in a room heated to 40 ° C and consists of the sequence of 26 postures for better stretching. The heat makes it possible to insist on the stretching of the tendons, muscles and ligaments.
- Yin yoga : This type of yoga is a mix between yoga and meditation. It is based on the chain of gentle postures that we hold for a long time, focusing on the sensations of our body and our mind.
Then there are many derivatives of these practices such as aerial yoga, pilates, Paddle Yoga or yoga for pregnant women which has a lot of benefits.
The first challenge therefore to begin is to choose the practice that suits you. For this, I advise you first to identify your goals, what you are looking for with yoga. This can be gaining flexibility, building muscle and decompressing. In this case, you will rather head for Hatha Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga. If you want to be more Zen, relax… then you will turn to Yin Yoga. If you want to work out and tone your figure, chances are that Vinyasa Yoga or Power Yoga is for you.
Once you have identified your goals and the 2 or 3 types of yoga that interest you, test them. I advise you to do 2 to 3 sessions of each to see if you like it, if the rhythm suits you and if you see yourself continuing this practice. You will be able to choose the form of yoga that suits you and get started!
3. Take classes in a yoga studio or gym
Third tip, when you are starting out, start by taking lessons. I know you all told yourself that you could do yoga alone at home, whenever you want, with a video, but as a beginner, you will progress much more by taking a course.
First of all, you will be faced with a teacher who can correct you on your postures. This is essential because if you are in the wrong position, you can easily injure yourself. In addition, by taking a course, you will be forced to challenge yourself, to leave your comfort zone and you will therefore progress more quickly. To choose your course well, I really encourage you to test several teachers because they all have different approaches.
I advise you to start with a training rhythm that is easy to maintain over time, therefore between 2 and 3 sessions per week (if you practice another sport and yoga acts as a stretching session, one to two per week are sufficient). Then, it is up to you to decide if you prefer to practice in the morning, at noon or in the evening or even on weekends, you will easily find lessons at all times.
4. Have the right yoga equipment
Now that you have found a type of yoga that is right for you and you are enrolled in a class, you need to equip yourself. The advantage of yoga is that, if the prices for the studio lessons are high enough, the equipment is reasonable and you don’t need much. When you are starting out, you don’t need to invest hundreds of francs in yoga outfits or a high-tech mat.
I advise you to have two or three outfits depending on the number of weekly sessions you plan. Prefer fitted tops, close to the body to avoid finding yourself half naked on certain postures (such as inversions for example). Yoga is generally done barefoot, but you can also buy slippers (such as dance or gym slippers) if you prefer. For the carpet, you can start with a classic carpet as found in all sports stores. Then, if you are into yoga and want to invest a little more, there are many brands that offer super stylish rugs!
Two things also to always have with you for your lessons: a bottle of water to stay well hydrated and a sweater or sweatshirt. In general, the lessons always end with an elongated posture, the savasana, which allows a final relaxation. During this posture, your body will release the heat accumulated during the course and you may feel cold and need to put on a sweater.
5. Practice yoga in a group
For my fifth advice, I would tell you to find partners to practice with you. It is valid for all sports, it is much easier to motivate others. So motivate your friends and sign up for more.
If your friends are not very yoga, try to sympathize with the other participants of your courses. This will motivate you and you can also help each other on certain postures.
6. Practice Yoga Alone at Home
That’s it! You are a real yogi. You have been practicing regularly for a few weeks and you like it. It is very likely that you will feel the urge to do yoga more regularly.
At this point, you can start practicing on your own at home. 20 minutes of sun salutations in the morning to wake you up, a few sequences in the evening before going to sleep… Incorporate these little flows into your routine. I advise you to make them without video but rather by reproducing sequences that you did during your lessons. You will see, we remember quickly.
These small sessions between your lessons will allow you to progress, to work in more detail on the sequences on which you want to improve or to test more complex postures.
7. Persevere and challenge yourself
Once your yoga routine is well established and after your incredible progress from the start, do you feel like you are stagnating? It’s time to challenge yourself. At the start, everything will be new, so you will be super motivated and progress quickly but after a few weeks or months, it will be time to put new challenges in your practice.
Among the challenges, you can try to push a posture further or set a complex posture goal to succeed. Yoga is full of possibilities, so you will easily find new challenges.
8. Vary yoga practices
Another option to challenge yourself is to vary the practices. Start another type of yoga in addition to the one you are already doing or try one of the new original practices that are blooming right now. Among my favorites, Paddle Yoga is a very fun challenge for the summer and you will work on your balance thoroughly.
The goal is to have fun in your practice and to always find in yoga a moment of relaxation and decompression that boosts you.
I hope all of these tips will help those of you who want to get started. In any case, if you still hesitate, I encourage you to thoroughly test!