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If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in yoga but don’t know where to start. You may be intimidated by the prospect of putting on yoga pants and going to a class. You may be dealing with inflexibility or other issues that make you nervous. You may have some yoga experience but haven’t been practicing in a long time.

If any of the above sound like you, you’ve come to the right place! Trust me, I know how nervous and not-confident you might be feeling right now. I have been practicing yoga for 15 years or so, but my practice hasn’t been constant that whole time. Sometimes I’ve taken years away. Sometimes I’ve dealt with injury and chronic pain issues that made me hesitant to do yoga again. And sometimes I’ve just simply been unwilling or too busy to try out whatever new yoga studio everyone may be talking about!

But none of that means I’ve failed, or that I’ll never reach my yoga goals. What keeps me coming back to yoga is that it’s always here waiting for me. I think you’ll feel the same way.

Yoga isn’t about records or scores

Unlike a lot of other fitness activities I’ve tried, yoga isn’t about setting personal records or trying to beat some arbitrary “best” that someone else has set. If you can only do two or three very easy poses, do those two or three poses. Get to know them. Understand how the different components of your body and mind are coming together in those two or three poses. Nobody’s timing you. Nobody’s judging you. Even 10 minutes of yoga per day counts. You should be aiming to try different poses and work different areas of your body, but not if it’s going to aggravate already-existing issues, or if the poses are too advanced for you to do safely.

A little story to prove my point: One of my most hated poses is Cobra Pose – essentially, an upward backbend while belly-down on the floor. I’ve never been able to do it properly. But for years I forced myself to try, all the while knowing my form was off and I was probably going to injure myself that way. One day I was following along with a yoga video on netflix and, sure enough, my hated Cobra Pose came up. The instructor mentioned that for months and months, she couldn’t go further than lying flat on her stomach with her forehead resting on her folded hands.

And with her unspoken permission, that became my version of Cobra Pose. It still is, and will be until I’m ready to try going a little bit further without injury or pain.

Yoga class or yoga at home?

There is no easy answer to the question of whether to start with a yoga class or start with doing yoga at home. It’s really up to you! Some people love the mellow energy of a class, while others want to have a little foundation of knowledge before doing asanas in front of strangers.

Whichever one you choose, I do strongly recommend that you try a class as soon as you can. Online videos are great, but hands-on adjustment from an instructor who can actually see what you’re doing is invaluable. And don’t be intimidated! I’ve seen people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities in yoga classes. Nobody minds!

Have fun getting started with yoga!