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Learn your savasana from your asana.
So, you’re new to yoga, keen to give it a try, and on the hunt for the best yoga for beginners workouts?
You’re in the right place – we’ve enlisted the help of 600-hour registered yoga teacher Hannah Barrett to pick her brains on how to get into yoga as a total beginner.
Knowing where to start with yoga if you haven’t given it a go before can feel kind of daunting, but know this: while your Instagram feed might be flooded with uber bendy yogis in crow pose, it’s really quite a simple workout designed to boost both body and mind.
So, where do you start? This guide to yoga for beginners will help. Remember, yoga is for all ages, abilities, body shapes, and sizes, and you don’t need to be uber flexible, either. For more tips on giving it a go for the first time, keep scrolling – and don’t miss our guides to the best gym leggings, best yoga mats, and best sports bras, while you’re here.
So, what is yoga?
In its simplest form, yoga is a holistic form of wellness that looks not only at the physical body but encourages you to recognise your mental and emotional health too, shares Barrett. “There are a whole host of benefits including increased strength, improved flexibility, and greater mobility,” she continues. “Not to mention decreased stress and anxiety, improved sleep quality, enhanced self-awareness, and improved immunity.”
Like the sound of it? Us too – which is why we’ve bought your a round-up of the best yoga classes in London and an explainer on mindful movement, too.
Still feeling slight gym anxiety at the concept of trying a totally new sport and not being, well, any good? “People often envisage yoga as the splits or any number of postures where you bend your body like a pretzel but it’s so much more than this,” shares Barrett. She explains that it’s a way of life and something that stays with you both on and off the yoga mat.
There are many different types of yoga, and the yoga postures, otherwise known as asana, are just one part of the practice. “Yoga also includes breathwork training, meditation, mindfulness practices, and principles that guide how we behave in a compassionate manner, both towards others and towards ourselves.”
Yoga for beginners: 5 tips for giving it a go
1. Just start
Barrett’s best advice for beginners? Just start. “Starting is the hard part, particularly if you are not flexible or struggle with strength,” she shares.
Our health editor’s fitness tips include some great pointers on convincing yourself to start a workout if you struggle to find exercise motivation.
2. Find the class suitable for you
Similarly, you’re not going to enjoy yourself if you accidentally book a class for advanced yogis.
“Find a class that is suitable for beginners where you will learn the foundational poses – and all the modifications that can come with them – in a safe setting,” recommends Barrett.
3. Remember that yoga is for everyone
One of Barrett’s core teachings is that yoga is for everyone and every body. Plus, do remember that every single pose can be modified to suit you – there is no right or wrong, she emphasises.
4. Be patient
Just started out and finding it a bit difficult to calm your mind or reach the necessary poses? As above, make sure to modify, but similarly, have patience.
“Over time you will start to see changes,” shares Barrett. “Not only in your physical body, but you will probably also start to feel calmer and more connected. Once you start to see the positive impact yoga is having on your life, coming back to the mat becomes easier and easier.”
5. Find the teacher for you
Just as finding the right class is important, so too is finding a teacher who you connect with and who makes you feel good while working out.
“Remember, there are so many different styles of yoga and teachers out there,” shares Barrett. “Do try a few and see which ones resonate with you,” she advises.
Yoga for beginners: 10 flows to try at home
Barrett’s favourite two yoga poses are savasana – the pose you enjoy while taking a moment of stillness at the end of a class – and half-moon pose – a pose that requires a combination of strength and openness that’ll leave you feeling energised and empowered.
But if you’re new to yoga – which, if you’ve landed on this page, we’re guessing you are – then playing a video that allows you to flow along is likely the easiest way to enjoy yoga. Lacing together your own poses is normally the job of the yoga teacher and will take more time than the workout, ultimately.
We’ve listed our favourite beginner flows – by some of our go-to instructors – below.
1. 20-minute beginner yoga flow with Adriene
2. 30-minute yoga for beginners flow with Jessica Olie
3. 30-minute beginner yoga with Kassandra
4. 25-minute happy yoga flow from Hannah Barrett
5. 10-minute yoga flow for all ages
6. 20-minute flow with Sarah Malcolm
7. 45-minute yoga for beginners class with Annie Clarke
8. 10-minute morning flow with Ally Maz
9. 20-minute easy yoga for beginners with Boho Beautiful Yoga
10. 10-minute beginner yoga flow
Hannah Barrett’s book, Yoga Happy, is out on 27th January.