Unlocking the Basics: 15 Vital Yoga Tips for Beginners (Insights I Wish I Had!)

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

people practicing yoga lesson with instructor
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It’s no secret that I am a little obsessed with Yoga, and when I first started, I must admit that I didn’t know too much about it. I knew the basics and the background of Yoga, but what I wish I had known was a few tips to help a beginner get started. It’s amazing what a few nuggets of information can do for your entire Yoga experience. 

Just a few tips can really change how you experience and enjoy your first few Yoga lessons. As you progress, you will undoubtedly learn everything there is to know along the way. Those that start practicing Yoga very rarely stop. I believe that Yoga is not just a workout – it’s a way of life. 

To make sure that beginners get a great first introduction to Yoga, I got into detail on my favorite Yoga tips for newcomers. Want to make sure you are fully prepared for your first Yoga class? Let’s take a closer look at our 15 tips for beginners.

These are 15 must-know Yoga tips for beginners:

1. Learn from Yoga books and videos.

woman practice yoga and watching video trainning
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Yoga is actually a discipline. You have undoubtedly heard and read a lot about Yoga online, but have you read any Yoga dedicated books and watched videos? By doing this, you can decide what type of Yoga is best for you. You can also glean a better understanding of the discipline. 

2. Choose the right type of Yoga class.

You might think that Yoga is Yoga, but that is really not the case. There are different types of Yoga that you can choose from. Most people don’t know what kind of class they have joined, but the most common type is called Vinyasa flow class. These classes allow beginners to learn more about the postures and fundamentals of Yoga in simple terms. 

Spend some time looking up the various types of Yoga available and decide which is best suited to you personally. It’s also a good idea to contact a few Yoga instructors in your area to find out what types of Yoga they offer. The instructor should be able to give you some advice or may even invite you to observe a class so that you can decide if it is for you or not. 

3. Buy a non-slip mat.

Unfortunately, most regular gym mats have no grip underneath them. 

In your first few classes, you can expect to struggle with balance and holding the correct postures for long enough. This will result in the mat slipping or you falling over when you lose your balance. If you look around for a non-slip Yoga mat or a Sticky mat, this problem will be solved, and you will effectively avoid strains, falls, and other injuries. 

person rolling yoga mat
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4. Arrive early and choose a good spot.

As a beginner, you are bound to be nervous when you join a new class. Where you are positioned in the class can affect just how comfortable or uncomfortable you feel. As people arrive at Yoga, they will position their mat where they intend to practice. If you are stuck in the front and feel awkward, chances are that you aren’t going to enjoy the experience and it might even put you off. 

By arriving early, you can choose a spot that makes you feel less conspicuous. You can also spend a moment or two introducing yourself and chatting to the others so that friendships can begin to form. 

5. Make sure you have enough space.

You need to be aware of the space around you when you settle in for a class. Some of the poses and movements require space, and if you tuck yourself into a tight corner or squeeze yourself too close between others, you are going to find yourself losing balance, falling over, and bumping other people. 

Allow yourself enough space to move freely with an absolute peace of mind that you aren’t encroaching on anyone else’s space. 

6. Set an intention for each class.

At the very start of your Yoga class, the instructor will ask you to relax, breathe, and find your center. In some instances, the instructor will suggest a theme or intention for the class, but you can also set your own. Some choose to focus on deep breathing and clearing their mind. Others focus on gratitude and peace of mind. 

Setting an intention helps with focus and provides the right mindset for the experience. 

People Exercise Class Relax Concept yoga

7. Wear the right clothes.

Everybody loves to wear Yoga pants, so invest in a few stretchy pairs – you are bound to love them. In addition to that, you can expect to work up quite a sweat, so aim for loose-fitting clothing that breathes easily. Of course, there’s no need to wear shoes to your Yoga class – everyone typically goes barefoot. 

8. Eat before a workout.

Working out on an empty stomach is a recipe for feeling ill or faint. Make sure that you have a snack, protein shake, or a light meal at least 2 hours before your work out. This will provide you with sufficient energy to fuel your workout. Don’t drink too much water before a workout as it will make you feel bloated and full. 

While practicing Yoga, it is highly recommended to eat a healthy diet. It will truly complement your workout and help you with a body transformation. 

9. Hold poses for 3 to 5 breaths.

Something I was worried about as a beginner was how long I would have to hold each pose. I had visions of falling over and making a fool of myself. 

Of course, how long the poses are held will depend on the type of Yoga you are practicing. I have found that most poses are held for between 3 and 5 breaths. Balance poses are typically held longer than transition poses. If you want to do a bit of a faster workout for cardio, when you are familiar with the poses, you can try holding them for 1 or 2 breaths.

10. Ask for pose modifications for poses you can’t do.

doing stretching yoga instructor
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As a beginner, I couldn’t help but notice that some Yoga poses just didn’t feel comfortable or possible for me. That’s because everyone is different and it’s completely normal to have some poses that are “out of range”. Don’t worry, most Yoga instructors will offer modifications of poses for those who cannot do them. 

If the instructor doesn’t offer immediate modifications to try, ask for some. It might be a case of just assuming you are handling it fine. Communicating with your instructor about what you can and can’t do is essential. 

11. Pay attention to your body.

Here’s something that most people don’t know about Yoga: it should not be a painful experience. Some workouts in the gym are tough and painful, but that’s not what Yoga is all about. 

Yoga is a gentle stretching form of exercise, so if something feels sore or you feel you are straining to get something right, you are either not doing it right, or you just can’t do that particular move/pose. Never push it. Make sure that you listen to what your body is telling you. 

12. Leave competitiveness at home.

When you first start doing Yoga, you might continuously wonder if you are doing it the same as everyone else. If you find yourself gazing around the room and watching other people’s poses, you won’t be able to focus on yourself. Yoga is completely non-competitive. Keep your eyes on your own mat and focus on your personal progress and development. 

13. Clear your head (Shavasana).

You might not be expecting this, but each class will end with a pose called “Shavasana”. This is a lying down position on the mat, resting in a meditative mindset. This is a conscious effort to relax the body and clear the mind, and this is usually done for around 10 minutes. It can be difficult if you are not used to just lying quietly, so be prepared to clear your mind.

Every time your mind drifts and gets busy, try to bring it back to center. At the end of Shavasana, don’t rush up and head out. It is important to very slowly make your way back into your regular life and mindset. 

woman practicing yoga, doing Savasana
Fizkes / Shutterstock.com

14. Make a note of new poses after every practice.

When I was first learning, the poses and their associated names were difficult to remember. I developed a tactic that made it easier for me. At the end of every class, I grabbed my mini note pad and jotted down all of the poses that we learned in class that day. If there was time to consult with the instructor on how to remember them, I did. Otherwise, I would then watch a few videos or look them up online so that I could practice them at home. 

15. Practice, practice, practice.

You are not going to progress in Yoga if you don’t spend time practicing. Make time to attend each of your classes and try to make yourself go, even if you “aren’t in the mood”. Once the bug has bitten, chances are that you will be daydreaming of going back to Yoga class. Until that happens, spend as much time as possible practicing. 

Last word

Incorporating Yoga into your life is a healthy way to boost body, mind, and soul. By following the abovementioned tips, your first few encounters with Yoga will be somewhat rewarding.

people holding yoga mat and towel in conversation
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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.