New to yoga? Start here.

"I want to try yoga but I'm not sure where to start. Any tips/advice?"

People ask me this a lot and it's hard to succinctly answer — which is why I started with this post specifically about yoga classes.

Look, I'm not a yoga god and I won't tell you exactly how to begin your yoga journey; just like I won't tell you how to fall in love or raise your kids. But here's some practical advice based on my yoga experience that I hope will help you get started in yoga land.

Step 1: Invest in a mat


Your first mat doesn't need to be expensive. I used a $20 mat from TJ Maxx until a few months ago when I finally bit the bullet and bought a Jade mat. Bikram Choudhury (creater of Bikram Yoga) says you should be able to practice yoga on ice. That's a bit of an exaggeration but his point is valid: Your equipment does not make your practice. Don't overthink it. 

If you fall in love with yoga and decide to invest in a fancy mat later, go for it. I have some thoughts on mats and am happy to help you out if you're looking for recommendations. Send me a note.  

Step 2: Get your feet wet


It's intimidating to waltz into a studio with zero experience. I get it. And even though yoga is an extremely non-judgmental community, you don't know that if you haven't tried it. To boost your confidence, get your feet wet in the comfort of your own home. I recommend familiarizing yourself with sun salutations — a foundational yoga sequence. Try this video from the fabulous Kino Yoga:

Step 3: Go to a class

I mostly practice at home now, and I believe that having an at-home practice is amazing. But especially if you're a yoga newb, you can't replicate the class experience at home for two reasons:

  • Your alignment is probably off. You can watch a video all you want, but until an instructor shows you proper form and corrects your misalignment, there are just too many ways to get it wrong.
  • You can't get that energy at home. There are some yoga classes I'll never forget because the energy in the room was so powerful. 

So you're sold on trying a yoga class but there's still something in the way — $$$. Studios can be expensive. I get it. I used to drive wayyyy out of my way to go to what used to be the most affordable studio in the area. But there really are affordable, and even free, options. Most studios offer great introductory rates. CorePower Yoga, where I currently teach, offers students their first week free and often has special, free events around the city. Often times, public libraries offer free classes. And rec centers can be very affordable.

Also, be sure to check out my tips for your first yoga class and what I wish I knew before starting hot yoga if that's the style you're trying.  

Step 3: Keep going

It's hard to know whether you really like something after the first try. Most studios offer great introductory prices — a low, flat rate for your first week, two weeks or even month. Take full advantage of this and keep trying a variety of classes and teachers before deciding whether or not yoga is for you.

Step 4: Take it beyond the mat


Now that you've bought into the poses, learn more about the yoga off the mat. The poses — or asanas — are just a small part of yoga. By this point you've probably experienced some of the non-physical benefits, even without knowing the why. Every yogi has that "aha" moment. That moment where they may not be able to explain what's happening, but they know it's beyond a workout. Mine was in camel pose. And then I was hooked. If you want to dive deeper into yoga philosophy, head to the library or a bookstore and start reading. Here are a few of my favorite resources:

  • Yoga Beyond Belief by Ganga White
  • Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar 
  • The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali (there are several versions out there)

I could go on. And on. And on. But I won't. Once you're a student of yoga, you're always a student of yoga. I teach yoga, but I'm still very much a student as well. 

I hope you find this information helpful in starting your yoga journey (and I'm so excited you're doing it)! If you have any specific questions that didn't get answered here, comment below or email me and I'd be happy to help.



YogaCara McDonaldYoga 101, yoga