My yoga journey started a year ago.
After my septum deviation surgery, I was physically incapable of doing any strenuous exercise for two months. This meant that I could not do any cardio or strength training, and so I needed to find a gentler way of moving my body, which is why I began with yoga. At first, I was quite sceptical about whether I would be suitable or not to practice such a graceful and elegant physical style of art (in my opinion). After all, I didn’t see myself as a prototypical yogi. I imagined a typical yogi to be slender, living in Bali or Hawaii, with long blond hair and following a vegan diet. Plus, based on my perception, yogis were extremely flexible – which I was absolutely NOT. However, as a result of being quarantined, I could no longer ignore my inner urge to take up yoga, which is why, as a first step, I decided to look up YouTube videos for beginners. And lo and behold, since my first failed attempts in 2012, the yoga community on YouTube has literally increased a hundredfold. I knew some basic poses I memorized from partaking in yoga classes at my local gym a decade ago, however, these videos were not only tremendously informative but also very easy to follow. Within the first two weeks, I saw immense results. I was more flexible, slept better, and my mood improved drastically. I got hooked on yoga videos and today, almost a year later, I still share that joy and look forward to my sun salutations and Vinyasa flows every morning. However, I was shattered one morning when I realized that I had injured my hands and wrists from excessive strain and poor form. I could hardly hold anything in my hand, let alone open door handles. The awareness and information to properly warm up one’s hands before each yoga session is not yet well spread and especially affects eager yoga beginners, like me, who start their yoga journey on impulse. Additionally, I reached several other important conclusions that I didn’t know before I started yoga and learned as I went along. So, below, I share with you my top five takeaways about the things that you should DEFINITELY know before you start your yoga journey.
Learn the basics
Basic concepts are always the building blocks of a new skill. So it’s no surprise that you need to master the basic Asana in yoga properly before moving on to the intermediate exercises. If you fail to acquire the foundations, you will end up injuring your joints and muscles by overstretching and straining. Only by mastering the basics can we perform better and become more successful as we progress. Great beginner videos to get you started from the comfort of your living room can be found on the YouTube channels of Yoga with Adrienne, Mady Morrison and Yoga with Cassandra.
Always warm up hands and wrists first
I can’t say it enough: warm up your wrists to avoid unnecessary injuries. Warming up your hands raises your body temperature and gets the blood flowing to your muscles, which reduces your risk of injury. I suffered severely for weeks and as a result tend to re-injure myself as soon as I perform an Asana incorrectly, as the first injury triggers new ones.
Invest in a good mat (no, seriously)
After I got my first yoga mat for €6, it quickly started to flake. The entire floor, plus the hallway, was full of tiny black crumbly pieces after each session. Your mat should also be slip-resistant, as traditional training mats are not sweat-proof and tend to be too thick. Personally, I can’t keep my balance because it makes the surface feel artificial and throws me into a constant state of instability and shakiness.
Yoga Asanas and breathing techniques are power duos. You should coordinate your poses with your breathing by focusing on your breaths for greater advantage. Three to five breaths per Asana are a good starting point for beginners. Also, conscious breathing will get you into a deeper relaxed state of mind and body.
No need to invest in fancy equipment
When I first started yoga, I immediately purchased a yoga belt and a block. However, I found out relatively soon that I didn’t need any of these things. Ever since they have been sitting in my closet and I only use them occasionally, for example, to practice crow pose or headstand. However, blocks, straps and wheels can provide good support for those who are extremely inflexible.