I wrote this blog so you can expect what you’ll experience as a newbie to yoga. I’m also publishing this blog as part of the release of the FIRST Body by Yoga workout series, Guyoga: Beginner’s Yoga for Men, a workout series I designed to teach people the physical fitness aspects of yoga, to improve strength, flexibility, and balance – and maybe relieve some stress, too. (If you haven’t gotten Guyoga yet, click here to get it on DVD, or here for digital access.)
And now… the 15 tips for beginners to yoga, to help you get the most out of your yoga experience.
1. It’s going to feel weird.
If you’ve never done yoga before, many of the postures are going to feel weird, because it involves movements that your body is not used to. Fear not, however. The soreness you feel the day after your body experiences some weirdness is your body adapting to new movements and becoming stronger.
2. You’re not going to be good at it.
Many people can bust out a few push-ups or run a mile without training for it, but yoga is another beast entirely. Flexibility is a strength that you actively have to work on in order to improve. If you haven’t been doing any flexibility training, then yoga going to be a challenge – regardless of whether or not you can run a mile in 7 minutes or win a push-up contest among your friends. My advice is time and effort. Apply yourself and you’ll get better – sooner than you think. 🙂
3. Know the difference between discomfort and pain.
You may get into an unfamiliar posture and immediately think to yourself, “Jeez, this hurts like a [insert expletive here]!” There’s a difference between discomfort and pain, though. Pain is sharp and intense. Pain is your body telling you, “DON’T DO THAT.” Discomfort, on the other hand, is different. Discomfort could be your body getting used to something, your body stretching in an unfamiliar way, or muscles being utilized in a way they’re not used to. Use your intuition, and pay attention what the instructor is saying if you’re unsure of how you’re supposed to be feeling in a particular pose. (Don’t be afraid to ask questions, either. Unless you’re following along to a video – then you’re SOL.)
4. Focus on yourself; not on other people.
Everyone has different bodies, with varying strength, flexibility, and control. Mirroring what other people do instead of focusing on the posture in a way that works for your body and your fitness level could mean you aren’t getting the benefits of the pose. At worst, it means you are hurting yourself.
5. Sensation over depth.
It isn’t important how flexible or how deep you can get into a posture. Pushing yourself beyond a level of flexibility that your body isn’t ready for is a great way to get injured – so let’s avoid that. Instead, focus on achieving the correct sensation in your body; the effect that the posture has on stretching certain muscles and tightening other ones.
6. Use your whole body.
Yoga is different than your typical gym workouts because almost all of the postures and exercises you find in yoga involve your whole body. That means that in order for you to do the exercises correctly, you have the total sum parts of your body, or you could be creating an imbalance, missing out an building strength or flexibility in a particular muscle, or flat out setting yourself up for injury.
7. Control your breath; control your body.
If you can control your breath, you can control your body. This is especially true in yoga because of the intense focus on breathing. Breathing controls the natural rise and fall of your body. Inhaling lifts your body, while exhaling lengthens and releases your body. Breathing also controls how you let stress affect you, the rate of your heart beat, and many more physical and mental processes your body completes on a repeated daily basis. Focus on your breath, and the control of your body will follow.
8. Try not to second guess yourself [too much].
It’s natural to wonder whether or not what you’re doing is correct when you first start doing yoga. But the only thing worse than doing it incorrectly is constantly worrying about whether or not you’re doing it correctly. It’s okay to second guess yourself sometimes, but try not to make a constant habit out of it, or you’ll never feel quite comfortable in any of the postures – and that’s definitely not right!
9, Build a body-mind connection.
One aspect of yoga that makes it unique when compared to other forms of physical fitness is the slow nature of the exercises involved. This allows you to slow down, check in with your body, and understand the slight changes in movement necessary to correct or improve postures. This intense focus on subtle movements allows you to build and strengthen the connection between your body and your mind, which improves motor control, heightens body awareness, and even increases mental performance.
10. Treat the stretches like you would any other strength-building exercise.
Many of the exercises that you’ll find in our workouts appear to be breaks from exercises that require more strength or endurance, but what’s awesome about yoga is that even the resting poses are working your body in ways that traditional exercise often does not. Even when you are just “stretching”, make sure you push yourself, because this is an opportunity for you to build flexibility, one of the main reasons that people seek yoga in the first place. Most of us know that flexibility is a good thing, but why is that? Flexibility is an aspect of your fitness that allows for more range of motion, more power, less risk of injury, and quicker recovery times. It makes you better at whatever you physically do, regardless of whether you’re an athlete or a desk jockey. Your strength not only depends on your flexibility; it is determined by it.
11. Use pain as feedback.
Contrary to what your high school gym coach said, pain is NOT weakness leaving the body. However, pain IS a message your body is trying to send you. Pain is commonly an indicator of overuse, weakness, or inflexibility. It differs from person to person, but the important thing to know here is that pain is your body telling you that something is wrong. If it hurts, don’t do it! Listen to the instructor or use a mirror to help ensure you’re doing the posture correctly.
12. There’s no such thing as a perfect pose.
You’ll notice that the workouts in our DVD are heavily focused on your technique, but you should know that there is no such thing as the perfect posture. Every body is different, and what works for one person might not work for another.
13. Breathe through your nose.
Yoga helps train your mind to stay cool, calm, and collected – especially under duress. The breathing involved is particularly important for this. If you are not breathing with your whole diaphragm, panting, or breathing in and out of your nose, you make it difficult for your body to remain calm. Focus on breathing in and out of your nose to counter your body’s sympathetic nervous response (your fight or flight response) in order to stay under control. This also helps you hold the posture longer and get stronger!
14. It takes more than one workout for results, but improved feeling is instantaneous.
You already know that it takes more than one workout to start seeing changes in your body when you start a workout program, but the unique thing about yoga is that you’ll feel better immediately during and after you do it. Your body ENJOYS stretching; it helps to relieve tension in your spine and joints, and reduces the inflammation that causes your body pain.
15. Stay consistent, both with frequency and with effort.
You may notice results with just one workout, but the only way to maintain those results is by practicing with regular frequency and with consistently high effort. Our suggestion is to do at least 3 workouts per week (about once every other day). If you are feeling like a yoga beast, do one every day. The more you do, the better you’ll feel, and the more significant your results! Over time, the daily aches and pains that annoy you will become a nuisance of the past, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.
You’re ready to get started! If your goal is to learn fitness-centric yoga and get all of the benefits of what yoga can do for your body, there is no better way to get started than with the brand new yoga workout series from Body by Yoga – Guyoga: Beginner’s Yoga for Men.
This is a workout program we created specifically for people that don’t normally do yoga. If you think you’re inflexible but are interested in learning how yoga can help you get stronger, THIS is for you. Build strength, flexibility, and balance – even if you can’t touch your toes.
The Guyoga: Beginner’s Yoga for Men Series includes 4 beginner-friendly (but physically rewarding) workouts:
- Sharpen – Sharpen your foundations, brush up on the basics, and get a full-body yoga workout to increase overall fitness.
- Strength – Build strength, flexibility, and muscle with this challenging, low-impact yoga workout for beginners.
- Sweat – Build muscle, burn fat, and SWEAT using this faster-moving, power yoga class for beginners.
- Stretch – Relieve stress, increase your flexibility, and focus on your breathing with this multi-purpose workout designed for beginners.
We have two options for you. Guyoga is available on (1) DVD and (2) digital format. Click on either link below to learn more about each version and get started now!
Guyoga DVD – OR – Guyoga Digital Access