You’ve heard it before. Everyone is talking about it. How yoga is so good for you, both physically and mentally. Improved strength and flexibility, stress relief and better mood, foundation for healthy habits. But what about yoga for beginners? Especially if you’re overweight and not that flexible?
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The idea of joining a gym, or finding a yoga studio can be intimidating. All those pretzeled up twig-like people? And so many options…Hatha Yoga, Hot Yoga, Vinyasa, Bikram, Kundalini? Umm…
You could try yoga at home with a DVD (this is a really popular one) or search up yoga for beginners on YouTube. But how do you know where to start with yoga, what’s good or bad, how not to injure yourself?
My Journey to Yoga
Having a daily yoga practise has been on my New Year’s Resolution list for decades. My first attempt came after receiving a VHS tape (yes, I’m dating myself) of Ali MacGraw: Yoga, Mind & Body. Set to hypnotic music, and filmed in white sand desert with an array of beautiful people doing poses alongside the actress and yoga master Erich Schiffmann, I found myself watching more than doing after the first few sun salutations. These people are obviously experienced at yoga, their ever increasing pretzel poses throughout the video, all while maintaining their breathing. Yeah, right. But still, soothing to watch while I lay on the floor.
Then there was the attempts at yoga at the community center with my mom, legs up on the wall in the dark, trying not to kill ourselves laughing. I’m pretty sure we were impeding everyone else’s zen. Plus working shiftwork presents a whole other challenge to the idea of time. My weeks are 8 days (2 days, 2 nights, 4 off) instead of the 7 days like the rest of the world, so joining a yoga studio with weekly classes just doesn’t work for me.
Yoga For Beginners Online
Searching online for “yoga for beginners” and “yoga for overweight beginners”, I eventually found Curvy Yoga. This one immediately felt like a good fit. Easy, step by step videos, tips and tools, plus encouraging emails, Curvy Yoga comes from a place of body acceptance, and tailoring yoga moves to YOUR level of fitness and strength.
With both a free and a paid membership option, you can really get a feel for what they offer. And with Curvy Yoga becoming more popular across the country (yes, even in Canada), you can also search for real-life yoga classes near you!
Definitely one of the best suggestions when thinking about yoga for beginners is accessories. These can make practicing yoga so much easier, especially when you are larger, or not that flexible. Here’s my favourite yoga props…
A good yoga mat helps provide a bit of cushion and helps your feet stick in poses. You don’t want to be slipping and sliding all around, especially when you start sweating! A yoga mat is probably the only thing you truly need to start doing yoga, but the other accessories definitely help, particularly when you are a beginner at yoga!
While you can start with a simple yoga mat design, if you’re looking for something a little higher quality that travels well, Manduku yoga mats come highly recommended.
A definite must if you are just starting, and struggle with touching your toes. Yoga blocks can be used to raise the floor to you, until you gain more flexibility. Usually bought as a pair, these 4″ blocks (usually made from high density foam or cork) just give you added balance and stability, without straining to reach the floor.
Another must if you lack flexibility, a yoga strap increases your reach. I was shocked at how using a strap not only made poses easier, but also improved stretching.
You can often buy yoga blocks and strap together in a bundle.
Other Yoga Equipment
Other items that can help make practising yoga easier and more comfortable include comfy clothes, a blanket and a chair. Wear what feels comfortable! You don’t have to buy special workout clothes (unless you want to), or make any fashion statements in your own living room! Folding a blanket up makes sitting poses easier, or helps increase stretching while lying on your back with the blanket tucked underneath. It’s also handy at the end of your workout when resting on your yoga mat on chilly winter mornings. A chair helps if you can’t sit comfortably on the floor to do some yoga poses.
Start Where You Are
One of the hardest parts of yoga (or any exercise routine) is sticking to it. Turning it into a daily yoga practise can be hard! Especially on those mornings when your bed is so warm and toasty, or at the end of the day when you are so exhausted you just want to crash.
So start small. Even one down dog. Just do it every day.
Then try 5 minutes (you can search Curvy Yoga videos by length of time). Everybody has 5 minutes!
As you gain strength, flexibility, and willpower to keep doing what feels good, add to your time. Try different yoga routines for beginners, and pretty soon you’ll be holding a tree pose, deep breathing and meditating on all your yoga journey successes!
Do you yoga? I’d love to hear about your yoga journey and tips you would add? Leave a comment below!
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