Yoga For Beginners: What You’ll Need to Know to Get Started

New to the studio? Learn about yoga basics and what you can expect in your first class.

What Is Yoga?

Broadly, yoga is a centuries-old physical, spiritual and mental discipline with its roots in India. Yogis across the world take part in a wide variety of practices, each with their own methods and goals.

Modern yoga is all about developing a holistically healthy lifestyle. Most classes incorporate deep breathing and meditation with postures that strengthen the body. Regular yoga practice can increase flexibility, muscle tone and endurance, as well as help manage stress and anxiety.

Best of all, yoga can be adapted to any lifestyle or skill level — you can find prenatal yoga, yoga for kids or more advanced sessions for skilled practitioners. Many elite athletes turn to yoga as a conditioning method in their offseason.

What Do You Need To Get Started?

Most beginner yoga classes require a yoga mat. Mats provide both cushioning and grip during your practice, and you can select from a variety of textures, materials and thicknesses for the one that feels right to you.

In addition to mats, more advanced classes use weighted bars, foam blocks and straps. Consult with your yoga instructor on the type of gear you’ll need for class.

When it comes to yoga, comfort is key. Yoga clothes should be soft, lightweight and breathable. Wear bottoms with stretchable fabric and tops that do not inhibit upper body movement. Try pairing a tank top with a classic pair of yoga pants or studio shorts. A low to medium-impact sports bra will likely provide the right amount of support.

And don’t forget about accessories — stay cool and comfortable with a water bottle and yoga towel.

What Types Of Yoga Are Out There?

There’s a yoga practice for just about everyone — hundreds of yoga methods are practiced across the globe. Hatha yoga is especially great for beginners. This modern form of yoga helps develop long, lean muscles and can be adapted to a variety of skill levels.

Bikram yoga, or hot yoga, takes place in sauna-like conditions to strengthen and detoxify the body. Anusara yoga is a relaxed practice that encourages students to express themselves through movement.

It may take time to find the yoga class that’s right for you. Always talk to your studio staff about the specifics of each class and their recommendations for you.

What Can I Expect In Class?

You’ll train alongside other students and at least one instructor.  You’ll warm up with some gentle breathing, and in your first classes, you’ll learn basic poses and breathing techniques. Some instructors will observe your poses and adjust your alignment as needed.  If you have injuries or health conditions, consult your instructor; they may vary your poses and alignment or advise against some positions.

Keep in mind, teaching methods and practices can vary widely between studios and instructors.

Can I Practice From Home?

For many yogis, practicing from home is especially gratifying — it’s comfortable, convenient and totally personal. The yoga experts at DICK’S Sporting Goods recommend that you first attend a class to hone your posture and alignment,  then begin your training at home.

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, unroll your mat at your convenience and begin to develop your own sense of rhythm. To change things up, turn to a yoga DVD. You can find instructional videos for a variety of skill levels and yoga methods.