In a world of desk jobs, finding an activity that can help you get moving and stay healthy can be tricky. For many people, yoga has been that source of activity, with over 36 million practitioners in the US alone, according to the Yoga Alliance. Suppose you are just getting started with yoga. It’s easy to overextend yourself.
How much yoga should a beginner do? A yoga beginner should practice yoga between three to four times a week, for thirty minutes to one hour each time. The key when beginning your yoga journey is to listen to your body.
The phrase, “listen to your body,” is something many yogis and yoginis have heard over and over from their teachers, but when starting out, it can sound like mumbo jumbo. Yoga teaches that every yoga body is unique, and therefore, there is no strict right or wrong answer to how to manage a yoga journey. So, what is listening to your body, and how do you even do that?
What Does Listen to Your Body Even Mean?
While yoga can be a great experience and work out, there are certain phrases that may have you overthinking and wondering if your teacher is speaking in code. No phrase is more baffling than “listen to your body.” How does one, in fact, listen to something that they control and that doesn’t talk?
The thing is that your body does talk to you. It gives you signals and warnings all the time, but we are trained to ignore or push past these limitations throughout our lives. After all, “no pain, no gain” is another phrase that can be heard all the time in gyms. With this mindset, a person believes that the pain is natural and should be expected from working out or moving.
Yoga teaches you to listen and feel once again when you are in the movement or pose. While going through the class, there are times where a pose may make you feel discomfort or pain.
That’s not the goal of yoga. The goal is to move to where your body feels like it can handle a certain position or level. It connects you with how your body is feeling in the moment and with your breath.
That’s not to say find a place where the body doesn’t feel like anything is happening. There’s a sweet spot where your body and breath connect in a pose where the yogi or yogini feel like they can maintain a pose and get a stretch or benefit from it. Listening to your body helps you find that sweet spot, where the stretch is active, and there is little to no discomfort.
Can Beginners Do Yoga Everyday?
Many exercise regimens suggest certain routines or rotations of schedule to maintain form and get the most out of it. With yoga, there are no such rules. While full-time practitioners may do yoga each and every day from breakfast until dinner, you, as a beginner, can do as much or as little as you want in a full week.
That being said, if you are invested and believe you can do yoga each and every day, you most certainly can undertake this! The key to not overdoing it is the intensity as well as how your body feels. With any exercise, your body may need a day to recuperate and restore. Be sure not to deny yourself this time. Yoga is a journey, not a marathon.
Luckily, there are many different kinds of yoga of varying levels that one can do! Certain practices, such as Yin, Restorative, and Yoga Nidra are relaxing, slow, and designed to help you melt into a pose. Others, such as Power Yoga, Bikram, or Ashtanga, are far more intense, advanced and should be taken slowly when you feel at your best.
What If I’m Feeling Worn out in Class?
Whether in a class at a studio or from the comfort of your home, there are times as a beginner where a yogi might feel worn out while on the mat. One can lose track of their breath while focusing on how to do new poses. One can get frustrated when they set expectations on their body, and it doesn’t perform as expected. These things happen.
What can be done when suddenly feeling overwhelmed or exhausted? First, don’t quit! As a beginner, you are just getting the ropes of this whole yoga thing. Leaving or quitting doesn’t have to be the answer. In fact, the yoga practice has a built-in “I need a moment” pose that you can take whenever you need to recenter and regain focus on the class.
That pose is called Balasana, or more commonly known as Child’s Pose. Child’s pose is a great way to lay down, take the time needed to find your breath, and get back into the movement when you are ready. Some teachers encourage going to this pose when first starting on a yoga journey.
How to do Balasana – Child’s Pose
- Bring your knees to the floor and kneel back on your feet.
- Touch the tips of your toes together and bring your knees about hip-width apart.
- Sit on your feet and put your hands on the mat in front of you.
- Walk your hands forward, allowing your torso and heart to go towards the floor to where you are comfortable.
- If possible, allow your chest and forehead to lie on the floor, hands extended above you, or, if more preferable, sweep arms behind you to touch your feet.
- Breathe and remain until you have become re-centered.
Beginner Yoga Essentials
Ready to get started in class? What will you need, aside from clothes? Unlike many other exercises, the required equipment is actually fairly simple. A standard yoga class, for the most part, may simply require a good yoga mat to get started. However, there are some other yoga gear items that may help a beginner out when first starting:
Bolsters and blocks can be used during certain poses to lessen the intensity and allow a person to move into the pose easily when beginning. Triangle pose is a pose that has advanced yogis putting their hand flat on the ground, but beginners can use a block to stabilize themselves. Bolsters can be used during butterfly and fish pose to reduce strain!
Straps can be used for the opposite effect if you find yourself in a pose where you can go further but need assistance. An example would be the king pigeon pose, where a strap can allow you to work for your hands slowly down to your foot. Socks with grips can prevent sliding on your mat, allowing for an overall more comfortable yoga class experience!
Know Your Limits!
Yoga is a fantastic way to get your body moving and improve your health. It is key, however, that you remember to listen to your body and know your limits. As a beginner, remember your yoga experience is a journey, which means taking it slow and to the point where you are comfortable to seek improvement over time.
Do not rush your yoga progress by straining or tearing at your muscles, as this can actually be detrimental to your growth. It can lead to damage and may even lead to you needing an extended rest period before starting again. Whether you can handle one hour a week or everyday practice, as long as you are easy on yourself, you can have a great yoga practice ahead of you!