Yoga - Where Do I Start? .. and Then What Next?
This post has two intentions:
To help the people in my life who are interested in yoga, but have never explored it
To explore and create a set of resources to help a new yogi on their way
Disclaimer: I know nothing.
I’ve spoken to a lot of my friends who have expressed their interest in yoga. They know it would be great for them. They see the benefits loud and clear in their friends who practice yoga. But they aren’t sure how to get started. Usually that person then tells me they have watched a few videos on YouTube. It’s almost never happened that someone says “I’ve been doing yoga. I love it. I get all of what I need via online videos.” Now’s when it’s looking like this article could be to promote doing yoga at studios and rationalizing the cost of the classes - it isn’t. Kinda the opposite, actually.
Where to start
Get a yoga mat. Go to your local thrift store if you’re on a budget. In Denver the ARC often has them. Even better, ask a friend to borrow one so you can instead invest in one once you’re amped up about doing yoga.
Search what yoga studios are in your neighborhood. Many yoga studios offer a free week and those who don’t typically offer a $10 for 10 days/$30 for 30 days type situation. Pick any studio to start at. You won’t be married to whichever you choose.
Go to a class! I completely understand how awkward it is to step into a yoga class for the first time. I remember it vividly. Yoga is going to train you on the benefits of sitting in discomfort. Take the first step of breaking through your comfort zone by going to a class. If you are reluctant to go, call a friend who does yoga and say “I want to go to my first yoga class, but I’m nervous to go alone - will you come with me?” They will say “YES!” and you will have just earned some solid vulnerability points in that friendship. Wins all around.
Realize that no one cares what you’re doing. Yay - the first chance to check your ego! When practicing yoga I have no idea what is going on around me with other peoples practices. Everyone is there to focus on themselves. It’s all about you and not at all about you all at once. Yuh!
Go back! Get as much of your money’s worth as you can within the new student special you got at the studio you started at. The second class may be easier or more difficult to push yourself to go to - go either way. If you aren’t deeply feeling that studio, check out another. If the next one doesn’t jump out as “this is my yoga home!”, try another.
Ask about cleaning shifts. Nearly every yoga studio I’ve ever known offers free memberships to folks who take a weekly shift cleaning the studios. Bring headphones to your shift so you can dance while you clean. Practice yoga before or after your shift. Make that afternoon or morning of each week dedicated to your yoga practice. Consider it your weekly act of service to your community.
But then what?
So this is the part that’s been really heavy on my mind recently. There is this gap of guidance in the yoga student experience that I don’t hear us talking about or addressing. Please feel free to let me know if you see it otherwise.
So here’s a scenario that may sound familiar to those of you who have begun your yoga practice. It is based on my experience and not at all about one specific studio in Denver.
Dylan moved to Denver a year ago. For the past 6 months Dylan has been practicing yoga - beginning with a free week at [Local Yoga Studio], followed by checking out some other studios, and ultimately coming back to [that studio]. Dylan loves the feeling they get from practicing there and it’s close to where they live. Dylan picked up a cleaning shift because there’s no way they could afford a membership - rent is a lot more expensive in Denver than Dylan expected and right now they are just serving tables. Dylan is thirsty to know more about yoga and how it works, so they are working on saving up towards a teacher training. From all they hear, this is the best way to really deeper their practice - even if they don’t ever want to teach.
As much as I believe anyone and everyone would benefit from doing a 200 hour teacher training, I am not okay with that being the only option given to an eager student. In that same breath, if you do a yoga teacher training (or have done one), you should go teach! The community needs you. I will be pushy on that because it’s true and your gifts should not be hoarded. For what it’s worth, I started teaching after I saw a meme that said “If you want to master something, teach it”.
Getting us back on track - how does Dylan deeper their practice and knowledge of yoga today? This book is a great place to start. Here’s a PDF of the basic yoga practice within the book. You can start there while you wait for the grueling 48 hours for Amazon to bring you the book. The book will teach you about pranayama (breath), asanas (poses), and meditation (stillness). And then here’s a list of books that someone else made to save you and I the time of creating a list of the essentials.
Find a teacher who teaches series within their classes (chakras, bandhas, etc.) and then use your at-home resources to learn more about each topic. THEN is when you should dig into the vaults of YouTube. There is SO MUCH content to deepen your knowledge. Search a few topics and then subscribe to channels. YouTube will get the idea quickly of the topic you want to see more of.
Love what you’ve learned and passionate about sharing it with others? Go do a teacher training! And then teach! Share it far and wide
Yogis - What other ways have you found to deepen your practice? I’d like to come back to this post with an edit of additional resources gathered from my peers in the yoga community. <3
Thank you for reading - I hope you found this information helpful!
The teacher within me recognizes & bows to the teacher in you