Yoga for beginners: tips & exercises to get you started

Yoga for beginners: tips & exercises to get you started

Do you want to start yoga but are afraid of doing something wrong with the exercises? Or do you think you are too immobile to practice yoga? In this article you will learn how to get started with yoga easily and what you should consider when starting out.

Is yoga also suitable for beginners?

Yoga is basically suitable for everyone. But not every type of yoga and every exercise is suitable for beginners. When you start with yoga, you should move forward slowly and be guided by experienced teachers, especially in the first few hours.

Yoga Styles: The most popular types of yoga for beginners

There are many different styles of yoga these days and that's a good thing, because if you don't like a style, that doesn't mean that yoga isn't for you. So when you're starting out, take time to try out different styles and teachers to find the style that you really like.

What styles are there?

In the Western world, the most common styles are those in which physical exercises ( asanas ) are the focus of practice. These include Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Power, Anusara, Jivamukti, Yin and Iyengar Yoga. There are also other styles such as Kundalini Yoga , where spiritual practice is more important.

How do the individual styles differ from each other?

  • Hatha Yoga : Individual exercises are practiced mindfully one after the other with breaks for reflection.

  • Vinyasa Yoga: Dynamic exercises that flow into one another.

  • Ashtanga Yoga : sequences of exercises that are always practiced in this order.

  • Power Yoga: A powerful style with elements from Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga.

  • Anusara Yoga: Very precise physical alignment with inspiring themes.

  • Jivamukti Yoga: A modern style in which dynamic music is practiced and mantras are often chanted.

  • Yin Yoga : Focus on relaxation and passive stretching. Positions are held for several minutes at a time.

  • Iyengar Yoga: A therapeutic approach that uses many tools to help you stay in the postures for a long time.

  • Kundalini Yoga : Exercises are performed for several minutes at a time. Breathing exercises and meditation also play a central role.

Which style is particularly suitable for beginners?

Whether yoga is suitable for beginners depends less on the style than on the choice of exercises, the pace and how long you hold the positions. Even for sporty people, yoga exercises such as downward dog can be very demanding at the beginning because these postures are unfamiliar.

Hatha and Anusara yoga are particularly suitable for beginners because they build up the postures slowly and a lot of emphasis is placed on clean alignment in the positions. Practitioners learn to better control individual parts of the body and improve their overall body awareness.

Downward-Facing Dog

How do you get started with yoga?

No matter what style you start with, take time to learn and physically understand the basic exercises before moving on to advanced variations. Keep focusing on your breathing and practice letting it flow evenly - especially in stressful moments. Don't compare yourself to others who have been there for a long time. Yoga is never about conforming to an ideal shape, but rather slowly expanding your awareness of your body and its possibilities.

Use all the tools at your disposal to make the positions easier. If you don't have yoga blocks at home, you can lean on thick books, for example. As an alternative to a harness, you can use a belt or a long scarf.

Basics for yoga beginners: the different asanas

You have probably heard the term asana in the context of yoga. You can find out exactly what an asana is here and in more detail in our separate blog post .

What does the term asana mean?

As asanas refers to all the postures that we take on our mat during physical yoga practice. In Sanskrit, all names for the exercises end with “-asana”, for example Virasana, Virabhadrasana, Utkatasana.

In which style of yoga do asanas play a role?

Asanas play a role in all yoga styles we know today, but in different forms. In Western yoga styles, physical exercises represent the main part of the practice: whether powerful and dynamic as in Jivamukti Yoga or slow and calm as in Yin Yoga. In other traditions, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation and cleansing techniques are more of a focus of practice.

Asanas for beginners – exercises to get you started

There are many yoga postures and variations that are very suitable for beginners. People with physical limitations can also practice yoga, but they should definitely be guided by a teacher, at least at the beginning.

How do the different asanas differ?

Most yoga postures have a specific focus and can therefore be divided into different categories. In general, a distinction is made between standing, sitting and lying postures. More precisely, the asanas can be divided into forward bends, back bends, inversions, rotations and balance postures.

In a yoga class, at least one pose from each asana category is usually practiced in order to stretch and strengthen the body in all areas.

Different asanas

What should you pay attention to when practicing asanas?

Always pay attention to your breath. As long as your breath can flow calmly and evenly, everything is fine. If your breath stops, it is a sign that you are over your limit. More important than performing the exercises as perfectly as possible is that they feel good to you.

Pain should never occur during yoga practice. Not every posture is suitable for every person. Over time you will learn to listen to your body better and perform the exercises in a way that is ideal for you.

List, presentation and explanation of the most important yoga exercises for beginners

  • The Tree – Vrksasana
    Standing balance position on one leg while the other is bent to the side. Actively press the soles of your feet and the inside of your legs against each other to create stability. The hands can be folded in front of the chest or stretched upwards.

  • Cat – Bidalasana
    A great exercise for mobilizing the spine with many possible variations. From a four-footed position, stretch your right leg backwards and your left arm forward. Hold for a few breaths and then switch sides.

  • Cobra - Bhujangasana
    Lying position to open the front of the body and strengthen the back. While lying on your stomach, place your hands under your shoulders and press the backs of your feet into the mat to activate the muscles in your legs. Use the strength of your back to lift your upper body and keep your neck long.

    Cobra and tree
  • Standing Forward Bend – Uttanasana
    Place your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly. Bend your upper body forward until you feel a stretch on the backs of your legs. Keep the leg muscles and feet active while allowing the head, shoulders and arms to hang. Feel free to use blocks under your hands if you are not yet very flexible.

    Standing forward bend
  • Grasshopper – Shalabasana
    Simple backbend in which the upper body and arms are raised from a prone position. The hands can be crossed over the lower back, the neck remains in an extension of the spine.

  • Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
    From a four-footed position, stretch one leg backwards with your toes on the floor. Place the other foot next to it - you're in plank pose. From here, bend your legs slightly and push your pelvis far back and up. More important than being able to straighten your legs and bring your heels to the floor is a straight and elongated back.

  • Shoulder Bridge – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
    Simple inversion pose in which the pelvis is lifted from a supine position with the legs bent while the feet, shoulders and head remain on the mat.

    Shoulder bridge and downward dog
  • Half Twist Seat – Adria Matsyendrasana
    Seated twist with one leg extended and the other planted. The upper body is rotated towards the raised leg, with one hand grasping the knee of the raised leg and the other used behind the body as support.

Tips for yoga beginners: the right breathing technique

Why is correct breathing so important in yoga?

One goal of yoga practice is to bring more life energy (prana) into the body and distribute it in the best possible way so that we feel vital in all areas of the body. Breathing exercises (Pranayama) are used to positively influence and consciously control this flow of energy in the body, because in everyday life we ​​breathe unconsciously most of the time.

Breathing helps us to remain calm and permeable in strenuous positions. In stretching postures it helps us to let go of excessive tension and relax more easily.

How do I breathe when practicing asanas?

As a basic rule, you can remember that upward movements are linked to inhalation (e.g. raising your arms while standing) and downward movements are linked to exhalation. For the sun salutation (Surya Namaskar) you lift your arms up over your head as you inhale and bend down into a forward bend as you exhale. While you remain in one position, your breathing should continue to flow calmly and evenly. In the beginning, it's normal to keep forgetting your breath or to find it difficult to maintain a consistent rhythm. Therefore, at the beginning of your practice, always do a few breathing exercises while sitting before you start moving your breath together with your body. When practicing a position on both sides, such as Tree (Vrksasana), you can count your breaths to hold each side for an equal amount of time.

Are there any tips on how I can learn correct breathing?

When doing yoga, we usually breathe through our nose using the Ujjayi breathing technique. This breath resembles the sound of the sound of the sea and creates a gentle inner warmth. This sound is created by the narrowing of the glottis, which causes breathing to become more even.

To learn this technique, raise one hand and hold it palm close to your mouth. Breathe in normally and as you breathe out through your mouth, imagine that you are audibly breathing on a mirror. Practice this a few times, then try the same with your mouth closed. You should feel a slight constriction in your throat as you do this. Once you get a feel for it, try creating the same feeling with the accompanying sound when you breathe in through your nose.

No matter how old or how sporty you are: you can start yoga at any time. Give yourself time to learn the unfamiliar exercises step by step and ask your teachers for advice if you are unsure about the alignment in some positions. Over time you will develop strength, flexibility and a fine body awareness that will allow you to feel more and more comfortable in the positions. Have fun practicing!