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Natural Awakenings Hudson County NJ

10 Tips for New Yoga Students

by Austin Sanderson

For those new to yoga, here are some tips to keep in mind when starting a practice.

Begin with the Basics. If you are new to yoga, find a studio that has a beginner/basics yoga program. This shows that the studio is willing to support, teach and nurture new practitioners on their journey to becoming a Yogi. Some studios have special classes or limited duration programs to introduce students to yoga basics.

Respect the mind/body connection. Coming to yoga for the physical aerobic/cardio workout, is a great starting point, but remember that  yoga is much more then a workout. It is an ancient system to develop self-awareness. The goal is to connect mind, body, breath and form—union with the true self.

Choose the right type of yoga. There are many methods and styles of yoga. Go to the studios that interest you and meet with the owner or front desk staff and ask for information and explanation of the type of yoga that is taught there. See if they have printed material about the studio’s methods that you can take home and read carefully. Become an educated consumer.

Allow for major injuries. If you suffer from chronic pain, injuries, illness or are physically disabled, group yoga classes may not be right for you. Talk to the studio owner about one-on-one privates classes or perhaps find a yoga teacher that is also a yoga therapist (a person who has special training that incorporates yoga and physical therapy).

Don’t become overwhelmed. If you have never taken a yoga class, try to set up your mat in the back of the classroom, rather than up front. This will allow you to practice at your own pace. Watch other students and learn from them. If you become stressed, just set up, stay focused, watch and learn.

Stick with it. At the beginning, yoga will be challenging, and even hard. You may feel soreness and aching the next day, even if you are in great shape and performed every asana, but don’t give up. It takes time to master yoga, which means take more then one class per week. Try to do two or three classes, with the goal of a daily practice.

Ask questions. If you are not sure about anything, ask. Ask for help with props. Talk to the teacher and fellow students with more advanced practices before and after class. This will quicken the learning process, build community and prevent injuries.

Stay with a teacher/studio. When you find a teacher or studio you connect with, stay with them. Try not to studio hop. To start, stop and restart only leads to confusion in your budding practice. You would not bounce form music teacher to music teacher, so why do it with yoga? Remember, yoga is a skill.
Monitor your progress. Yoga will change your life, so embrace the change. Yoga will shake things up, including the way you eat, sleep and interact with others. Keep a yoga diary. This will help you become the captain of your amazing personal journey of self-discovery.

Read, study and share. Read books and articles on yoga philosophy, asana and spiritual subjects. This will help deepen your understanding and expedite your process. If your studio has meditation or other forms of satsang, partake of them and be a part of the community.

Austin Sanderson is an advanced jivamukti yoga teacher and co-owner of Jivamukti Yoga Center, in Jersey City. Contact him at 201-993-1110 or

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