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12 Yoga Tips for Beginners

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12 Yoga Tips for Beginners

By Rolf Sovik, Yoga International

Beginning students are just as likely to feel the joy that comes from yoga as are their more experienced comrades. But beginners also face a pesky collection of obstacles. For one thing, the vocabulary of yoga can be difficult. Despite its beauty, Sanskrit has a tendency to make Western eyes glaze over (read the words pashchimottanasana and paravairagya quickly and see if it still happens to you). Another problem is that even relatively common practices may require more than a casual explanation (“You want me to pass salt water from one nostril to the other?”). Finally, many of the goals of practice seem improbable (“I’ll be sitting like that? Comfortably?”). Beginners, in short, need empathy.

Among the most difficult challenges for beginning yoga students is creating a home yoga practice. For that a student must choose from a growing list of techniques and arrange the selections to fit into a never-quite-adequate length of time. The practices mushroom as you progress from class to class, and it can be difficult to keep up with them all. It can be even more difficult to measure the relative significance of the practices (“How important is this?”) or to make sure that when you are doing them at home you are doing them correctly.

There is also the question of faith. Patanjali, the original codifier of yoga, noted that yoga prospers when the student practices with faith. Beginners often do have faith in the value of yoga, which helps them through periods of doubt and frustration. With the passing of time, however, beginning students must make the journey from blind to reasoned faith. And this means learning to own the practices yourself—even when it feels more comfortable to cling to the sticky mat of your teacher.

Here are some suggestions for beginners—tips that will nourish the joys of yoga for a lifetime. Most of them are practical—do this and do that. A few cultivate attitudes. The bulk of them apply to old yoga hands as well as to beginners. See if they work for you.

1. Keep a practice journal.

Yoga classes are full of little comments and insights that smooth over life’s rough edges and change the way we see ourselves. But today’s “aha!” experience is often swept away in the flood of tomorrow’s activities. Write it down.

A spiral-bound blank book is a great place for recording thoughts about your practice, even if some of your insights turn out to be less than cosmic. Use your notebook to make observations about the classes you are taking, too. Compile lists of postures—the ones you know and the ones that you are learning. List new terms that you think you would like to remember. Write down questions that come up in meditation. You get the idea.

Related: 10 Reasons to Write in a Journal & 10 DIY Journals

2. Become an “artist.”

Drawing stick figures is a great way to summarize information and remember the fine points about a posture. “Mr. Stick” (or “Mr. Peanut” if you are a bit more talented) takes only moments to sketch. Highlight your drawing with arrows and important cues. Small figures can be used to create short sequences (vinyasas) and even longer practice routines. Of course, if you are a computer whiz you might consider scanning digital photos of postures into your computer and manipulating the images onscreen. But then you’ll miss the fun of creating the image yourself.

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Read more: Fitness, General Health, Health, Mental Wellness, Spirit, Yoga

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3:49PM PDT on Jul 1, 2015

That sure is interesting to know that in yoga people keep a practice journal. Will the practice journal include the amount of time you do the exercise or the feeling that you get? I'm pretty new to this and it's something that my wife is encouraging me to do.

5:38PM PDT on May 11, 2015

Rolf, I really enjoyed reading tip number 1 about keeping a practice journal. My wife is just starting to try yoga and this would be a good idea for her to implement into her routine. Its also great to know there are so many private yoga instructors out there to help you start out in the privacy of your own home.

4:34PM PST on Nov 6, 2014

I absolutely love yoga. I can relax and enjoy my life doing yoga. I have been getting great results with Yoga Fitness Flow:

You can lose weight and look younger with it.
It's simple, easy and fun!

11:34AM PST on Feb 25, 2014

Thank you.

4:44AM PDT on Jun 18, 2013

If you are o yoga beginner maybe you would like to educate yourself in what is yoga, yoga styles, what is the philosophy behind many yoga styles, see Also some philosopfic extras, very nice.

6:04PM PDT on Jun 13, 2013

I liked your tips in the article. Very Zen. I also found a great website called I should start keeping a journal. I always mean to but then the moment is lost everytime I think...I should have written that stuff down.

8:29AM PDT on Jun 9, 2013

I don't really like yoga classes for a few reasons the most important being that beginners or unfit people are often left behind or are completely over looked even in a beginners class and I have rather big self esteem issues so I don't go to a class and privet instructors are far too expensive. I worry a lot that I'm not practicing a pose right but it never occurred to me to draw stick figures! Thanks for the tips :)

3:33PM PDT on Jun 7, 2013

Great tips. Thanks Samantha!

9:16PM PDT on Mar 31, 2013

Thank you.

11:56PM PST on Feb 24, 2013

Very informative information for beginners like me.I would like to share some articles at

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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