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12 Yoga Tips for Beginners

8. Learn to sound out Sanskrit words (if you like languages).

Sanskrit is an elegant language and it contains technical terms as well as historical names that have been associated with yoga for millennia. It’s an orderly language too, and once you have learned the basics of pronunciation your days of mumbling the sounds will be over. Most Sanskrit syllables begin with a consonant (or two) and end with a vowel. All Sanskrit letters have a fixed pronunciation (unlike English c’s, g’s, a’s, and so on), so once you can pronounce the letter you can sound out the word. This will also make it possible to accurately pronounce the many mantras found in meditation practices.

9. Take breathing breaks.

Breathing is a powerful tool for managing stress. And while a few moments of breath awareness can definitely short-circuit a fit of anger or a moment of anxiety, you might consider extending your breathing breaks and using them on a more regular basis—refreshing yourself for a few minutes or longer once or twice every day. During your break you can close your eyes and count your breaths, or you can simply relax the tensions that have crept into the respiratory muscles. You’ll find that a five-minute period of breath awareness will soothe the subtle strain of daily thinking and recharge your mind. Place reminders (Brake for Breathing!) at one or two key places in your home or office. Better yet, don’t let an afternoon go by without using five minutes for this sort of mini-meditation.

Related: Improve Your Health With How You Breathe

10. Let the practices do their work.

In the midst of a posture or relaxation exercise it’s easy to feel you should be doing something. And certainly it’s important to make the effort to master a practice. But trying too hard can get in the way just as much as not giving enough effort. So a good question to ask in the middle of any practice is “Am I letting the posture (breathing exercise, meditation focus) do its work?” Try it the next time you practice the relaxation posture, shavasana. Let the posture do its work.

11. Go to bed on time.

That romantic dream of getting up early for a long asana and meditation practice followed by whole-wheat waffles and a stroll around the block won’t happen unless you work on the other end of the equation: going to bed on time. Once you have whittled your late-night activities and moved your bedtime to a reasonable hour you can consider making changes in your morning schedule. But give yourself plenty of time for adjustments—months rather than days or weeks. Expect to feel better when you’re done.

Related: Why You Should Become an Early Bird

12. Quiet the critics.

You know the ones—the voices in your head that tell you that you aren’t likely to accomplish much or that you’re really not suited for yoga. Everyone has some doubts about themselves. But if those doubts become a naysaying chorus, they’ve gone too far. Trust that your interest in and appreciation for yoga are really a kind of devotion—a sentiment of greater value than any technical skill you can muster. And remember Krishna’s words in the Bhagavad Gita: “Those who come for shelter, no matter how humble they may be, reach the Path supreme.”

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Rolf Sovik, PsyD, is the author of Moving Inward: The Journey to Meditation. He is the president of the Himalayan Institute, and serves as the director of the Institute’s branch center in Buffalo, New York.

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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