How to Learn Yoga: The Best Way for Most People

Updated August 3, 2019


Your Guide:

Brenda Umana

I’ve taught nearly 3,000 yoga classes in the United States and India over the past six years. I hold a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University and I teach up to 15 yoga classes per week in a variety of locations—yoga studios, private homes, corporate settings, and universities. This guide, based on my teaching experiences and many hours of new research, provides the most useful resources, top gear, and key practices for people seeking to learn yoga.

This guide is continually updated. Suggestions and feedback are welcome at [email protected].


Disclosure: Guidery may earn some revenue if you choose to buy something that we mention. Learn more.

Table of Contents


I. Introduction

a.TLDR: The Single Best Way to Learn Yoga

The single best way to learn yoga is to enroll in an in-person class taught by a world-class yoga instructor.

Unfortunately, this advice is not helpful or realistic for most new learners. The quality of yoga instructors available to most people in any given city varies widely and it is difficult as a new learner to know if you are getting proper instruction or not.

To overcome these limitations, I recommend starting your yoga learning journey by enrolling in Glo, which has vetted, experienced instructors, and then later enrolling in a local in-person class to fine-tune your practice.

Glo is an online yoga and meditation platform that employs some of the world’s best yoga instructors. Those instructors teach through high-quality, video-based lessons, which enables you to practice yoga from anywhere at anytime convenient for you. You can easily filter classes by style, length, level, and instructor for personalized recommendations. Even better, the number of classes grows over time so you always have something new to learn. That’s why we call it yoga practice—it never ends. You are constantly practicing and learning.

Through Glo, you can build a solid foundation in yoga so you can later walk confidently into your first in-person class.

While Glo isn’t perfect—you need to create your own practice space, the program lacks an official Android app and you won’t have the social benefits or personalized body adjustments of an in-person class—the outstanding instructors, wide availability, and sheer expansiveness of the growing curriculum make it worthwhile for most people.

The first two weeks are free with Glo, followed by a monthly subscription of $18.

Glo is most effective as a learning tool when it is used in combination with an in-person class so that you can get the personalized body adjustments that you need. To learn yoga, start learning from the best with Glo in the comfort of your own home and then take your practice to the next level by enrolling in a local yoga class.

II.The Basics: Getting Started

Whether or not you use Glo, you’ll still need a minimal amount of gear to practice yoga. In this section, I will recommend the best options for most beginners.

a.What You Need to Get Started

Apart from your body, your yoga mat is the most essential piece of gear that you need to practice yoga.

Purchasing the right mat is crucial to having a better experience during a yoga class, whether you plan to practice at home or at a yoga studio. Mats range in price from about $20 to over $300, with the price and brand determining quality and durability. Keep in mind that some may be labeled “yoga mat” when they don’t meet useful yoga mat requirements.

Requirements of a Good Yoga Mat:

  1. Be made of vinyl, standard rubber, natural rubber, or some type of recycled cotton.
  2. Lay flat on the floor. The mat should be dense and not skid easily. Once unrolled, the edges should lie more or less flat (if I’ve had my mat rolled up for several days, sometimes the edges stay a little curled, but after a few minutes flatten out).
  3. Be of the appropriate length for your height. If you’re under 6 feet tall (1.8 m), your mat should be between 68 and 70 inches long (173 – 178 cm). If you’re over 6 feet tall (1.8 m), use an extra-long mat which are between 72 and 80 inches long (183 – 203 cm).

Too often I notice first-time students walking into class with a really thick foamlike mat that looks like the following photo.

Overly thick yoga mat
Photo: Crown Sporting Goods

While this mat seems like a good idea because it’s thicker, looks more supportive, and the label says “yoga mat,” this style will not pass the guidelines mentioned. First, the material is foamlike (like a cushioned chair) and not made of vinyl, rubber, or cotton. And secondly, this style and material is not heavy enough to stay flat on the floor while you interact with it; it is going to slip and hinder your balance and overall experience.

Now that you know what not to purchase, you can move your attention to the right texture, size, and heaviness. Start by looking for a mat that resembles the thickness and texture of the mat in the following photo.

Yoga Mat
Photo: Gaiam Yoga

This style mat will provide a safer and more enjoyable experience. Here are a few options for you to consider:

Gaiam Yoga Mat

Budget Pick

Gaiam Yoga Mat

$16+ on Amazon.com

This is the best budget-friendly option with the highest quality. The best feature is that the more you use it, the better it gets. Think of your yoga mat like a new pair of shoes—you need to break it in a bit. I still have my first yoga mat from this brand, which I bought at Target. It’s been around the world with me and I still absolutely love it.

The Reversible (Big) Mat by Lululemon

Upgrade Pick

The Reversible (Big) Mat by Lululemon

$88 on Lululemon.com

More grip for your hands—which is perfect for those, like me, who frequently get sweaty palms and soles during yoga practice.

Manduka PRO Yoga Mat

Splurge Pick

Manduka PRO Yoga Mat

$90+ on Amazon.com

This mat option is thicker than most without the foamlike material. It is known as the Cadillac of yoga mats.

b.Secondary Gear

The following items are not necessary to begin a yoga practice, but as you explore more aspects of the skill, you may eventually want to invest in them. These are my best-in-class recommendations for each tool for your future reference. (Note: yoga studios usually provide all of these for first-timers.)

Yoga Block
Yoga Block

$7+ on Amazon.com

Yoga blocks enable you to tailor your practice to your body’s current abilities, either for balance, support, or experiencing a certain aspect of a pose. It is best to have two blocks handy when you start your practice. Blocks usually come in two types of material: foam or wood. I recommend foam, simply because it is lighter and more affordable.

Yoga Strap
Yoga Strap

$7+ on Amazon.com

A long yoga strap is essential for certain poses or to experience a certain stretch. You can improvise in the beginning with a belt or a long scarf, but the advantage of the strap is that it has a specific clasp. It’s also soft to the skin, which is important if and when you wrap the strap around your legs or arms. For the average person, a yoga strap should be 6 feet long. If you are taller than average, it’s helpful to have an even longer strap.

Yoga Blanket
Yoga Blanket

$27+ on Amazon.com

Yoga blankets help provide the support you may need for your knees, hips, spine, and back of the head. Yoga blankets are typically sturdier than normal blankets and therefore are better for supporting you during your yoga practice. When you first start practicing, you can use a normal bath towel until you get a dedicated yoga blanket. As you practice more, though, you will likely want to switch to a yoga blanket, as their sturdiness typically keeps them lying flatter on your mat than standard bath towels.

‘Yogitoes’ Skidless Towels
‘Yogitoes’ Skidless Towels

$68+ on Amazon.com

This item was a game changer for me. I used to be embarrassed by my sweaty palms because I was always slipping and sliding on my mat while in Downward-Facing Dog pose. As a teacher, I now see that this happens to many people, not just me. Yogitoes skidless towels extend the entire length of your mat. The difference between this and a regular towel is the little nubs on the bottom that allow it to stay put as you move. The more sweat or water this towel has, the more grip you’ll feel. Some people spray the towel down before they use it to activate the grip. Regardless of brand, when purchasing a skidless towel, ensure it has the silicone nubs on the bottom.

Another option is to purchase toeless socks and fingerless gloves that grip. This is an either-or purchase. Either you purchase the towel or the socks and gloves (not both). They serve the same purpose, to prevent sliding on your mat. Regardless of brand, when purchasing this style of socks and gloves, ensure it has the silicone nubs for your hands and feet.

c.What to Wear to Class

It’s important for you to move freely in your body. While jeans or a loose-fitting shirt might feel comfortable during your everyday life, they won’t be comfortable during your first yoga practice. You’ll need form-fitting athletic clothes that don’t impede your flexibility and, notably, a shirt that won’t creep down when you are inverted. You don’t need to purchase a whole new wardrobe to start yoga; instead, look for any workout clothes that are slightly more form-fitting. If your shirt is a bit looser, look for bottoms that have drawstrings or that are tighter at the waist so that you can tuck your shirt in. This might sound weird, but because many of the poses invert your body, your shirt will keep moving down and you’ll feel the need to constantly adjust your shirt. This is a common distraction for many practitioners.

d.What to Know Before Your First Practice

Perhaps this is your first time walking into a local yoga studio after practicing at home for a while and you feel like everyone around you knows what to do and where to go. It’s normal to feel a bit lost when you first arrive at a new location. Below are a few common experiences that may come up for you, along with some tips to follow—know that you are not alone.

  • Don’t walk into the yoga room with shoes. Oops, so maybe you accidentally walked into the yoga room, where everyone has their mats out, with your shoes on. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone, and sometimes it just slips your mind. Simply take off your shoes when you notice and put them in the cubby or locker where you left your belongings.
  • Do face the right direction in the room. There’s generally a direction that everyone faces or positions their mat. Look around and see how other mats are situated. Sometimes the teacher has placed a mat horizontally, typically at the front, as a demo mat. You’ll place your mat vertically. If there is no mat up front, feel free to ask the teacher which way to face your mat. I ask this all the time when I’m new to a studio.
  • Don’t stress over sweaty palms and feet. So maybe you never noticed your hands and feet were sweaty. But now that you’ve been practicing yoga, you spend a lot of time on your mat slipping and sliding around. This is super common for so many practitioners, including myself. I spoke earlier about some of the gear that may solve this. In the meantime, if you are waiting for your gear or you forget your towel one day, ask at the front desk if they have a small hand towel to rent. Most studios typically have small white towels to mop off any sweat.
  • Don’t stress over painless noises coming from your joints. It sounds scarier than it is. As long as you don’t experience pain, the sound of joints popping or cracking during class is completely normal. While it may sound loud to you, most likely no one else around you noticed. While there’s a few different explanations as to why this happens in our joints, one explanation is that when you’re moving your joints in different directions, gases, primarily nitrogen, are released inside the joint and create that popping sound1 Judith Lasater, “Snap, Crackle, Pop: What’s With Noisy Joints?,” Yoga Journal, April 12, 2017, https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/noisy-joints.
  • Don’t stress if someone in the class is doing something that you can’t do. It’s typical for studio schedules to indicate “All Levels.” Studios gravitate toward this broad label for various reasons (ease, marketing, getting more people to attend class, to name a few). If you end up taking one of these classes, you might notice someone doing a headstand, handstand, or something you have no idea how to do or even the desire to do. It’s natural to want to look around or to feel like you’re inept at yoga now. Try your best to stay present with your practice. Go back to listening to the instructor’s cues, to noticing your breath. Become aware of the thought train that just entered your mind. Notice it. And then let it float away. You are exactly where you need to be in your practice.

e.Your First Practice Session: A Walk-through

Once you have a yoga mat, you can start your first yoga practice session.

Begin by changing into clothes that are practical for yoga practice (see What to Wear to Class), unroll your mat, and get ready to move. How you proceed will depend on which scenario you choose:

Scenario 1: I want to sign up for Glo

If you decide to give Glo a try, here are a few tips to help you through the sign-up process:

  1. The questionnaire that appears after you click Sign up for a free trial is simply trying to get to know you. At the “I consider myself” prompt, click Brand New; you can always change this later and you’ll still be able to look at all the content (be sure to click the arrow in the upper right to move to the next page).
  2. On the following page, although the prompt “What inspires you?” sounds like a philosophical question, it’s really asking what interests you about yoga. A few good ones to click include Feeling Calm, Strength, or Flexibility. Select as many or as few as you like. Again, you will always be able to see the full content. These questions are just to feed your dashboard after you sign up.
  3. After logging in to your new account, click Search at the top.
  4. Beneath the Search text box, you’ll see five menus (Practice, Duration, Focus, Teacher, and More). Click More, and then Level 1.
  5. The page that appears lists programs and classes. The Programs section should appear at the top. On the right, click Browse all programs.
  6. Look or search for the program titled Yoga for Newcomers. This is a three-week intro course taught by Annie Carpenter with a total of six sessions. You’re in good hands! Annie is known as the “teacher’s teachers.”
  7. If you ever have issues with the website, try using either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox for a smoother experience (both are free and available on most types of consumer computers.)

The Glo program with Annie Carpenter will guide you through a series of poses so that you can become comfortable either attending an in-person class or continuing with your Glo home practice.

Scenario 2: I would rather start without Glo

The eight poses shown in this section are some of the most common poses you’ll find in movement-based yoga classes sometimes referred as Vinyasa Class or Vinyasa Flow. They can also be used on their own as a mini-practice.

The eight poses are included and repeated in the sequence called Sun Salutation A. You may hear this in class as Surya Namaskar A, which is the Sanskrit term for it. For more on the language of yoga, see Common Yoga Terms (and Usage).

To begin, follow the sequence below. To support your practice you can also follow this video created by the fine folks at Alo Yoga

Note: The photos shown here are for learning visually. Since all bodies are different, the poses will look different for different people. You are not striving to look exactly like these photos, you are striving to notice how your body feels when you attempt these poses.

Yoga Practice: A Walk-through

Time needed: 10 minutes.

How to Learn Yoga (Sun Salutation A)

  1. Start in Mountain Pose

    Stand at one of the short ends of your mat, feet about hip-width apart, toes and knees forward. Place your arms down by your sides, palms facing forward. Stand tall at the top of your mat and take a few breaths to center and ground yourself evenly through your feet. This neutral position prepares the body for movement.Pose One - Mountain Pose

  2. Move into Upward Salute Pose

    From Mountain Pose, inhale as you reach your arms up as if you’re holding a large beach ball above your head. Your palms do not touch. Stretch your elbow joint so your arms are straight.Pose Two - Upward Salute

  3. Move into Standing Forward Fold Pose

    From Upward Salute, start to exhale as you bend at the hips, moving downward toward your thighs. Since your arms are up over your head, allow them to fall with you as well. As you move down toward your thighs, think about keeping your spine long and lead the movement downward with your chest and chin (as opposed to hunched or rounded forward). Once your chest is near your thighs, your hands might dangle or your hands might touch the floor. It really depends on the length of your legs and arms and the flexibility of your hamstrings. Don’t get caught up in “touching your toes”—that’s not the purpose here.

    Now allow your head to drop as well. If you feel a slight stretch in the backs of your thighs, such as in your hamstrings or the backs of your knees, that’s totally normal. You want to feel that. Optionally, you can bend your knees or place your palms on blocks in front of you; this transfers some of your weight to those blocks.Pose Three - Standing Forward Fold

  4. Move into Half-Lift Pose

    While in Standing Forward Fold, take a breath in and lift your chest halfway up. Your hands can gently press on your shins, top of the thighs, or the blocks. Avoid dangling your hands; you want to press into something for leverage to extend your chest. Think of the opposite of slouching and rounding in your shoulders in this pose. Open your chest and broaden your collar bones. Notice your shoulder blades on your back and see if you can gather them closer together.Pose 4 - Half-lift

  5. Move into Downward-Facing Dog Pose

    From Half-Lift, start to bend your knees so that your hands fall flat to the mat. Move your right and left foot back to the opposite end of your mat. In this pose, think of your body as an upside down V.

    Start with the body parts that are closest or making contact with the mat. Keep your hands shoulder-width, fingertips spread and reaching forward, arms stretched. You want to keep your arms so that your elbows are pointing outwards. This is now a bit more challenging because the palms are flat to the mat and no longer facing each other as in Upward Salute when you imagined holding on to a big beach ball over your head.

    Move your awareness to your feet, keeping your feet hip-width apart and parallel, with your toes facing forward. Your heels should be descending toward the mat but not touching the mat. Keep your knees slightly bent so that you can lift your tailbone in the direction of where the wall and ceiling meet.

    Inhale and exhale three times.Pose Five - Downward Facing Dog

  6. Move into Plank Pose

    From Downward-Facing Dog, inhale and shift your shoulders over your palms and wrist into Plank pose. You may be familiar with plank; it’s the same position as when you start a push-up. Place your knees down behind your hips in this plank.Yoga Plank Pose

  7. Move into Half-Plank Pose

    When you start to bend your elbows toward Half-Plank, begin to exhale. Keep your elbows close to your side ribs. Half-Plank is the position where your shoulders are around the height of your elbows. Then transition fully to your belly. During this transition, try to move the chest, belly, and thighs at the same time to rest on the mat (instead of performing this like a worm: thighs, then belly, then chest).yoga pose half plank

  8. Move into Cobra Pose

    Once on your belly, place your palms on the mat close to your lower rib cage, keeping your fingertips forward. Then inhale and lift your shoulders and chest about halfway up, keeping your elbows bent. Notice if your shoulders are up toward your ears in this pose; if so, slowly move them down away from your ears. Exhale and release your chest back to the floor so you’re once again flat on your belly where you started.yoga cobra pose

  9. Take a Short Break: Child’s Pose

    This completes the eight most common poses but does not complete the Sun Salutation, which entails repeating some of these poses, as described after this section. One full Sun Salutation is complete when you arrive back at the short end of your mat standing in Mountain Pose, where you started.

    Child’s Pose is good for when you need a break or need to pause for a moment. At any time during your practice, it is perfectly acceptable to return to child pose. Sometimes the teacher will instruct it, other times they don’t. Feel free to return to this pose at any time.

    To go into Child’s Pose, place your shins flat on the mat, knees slightly apart, with your torso draped over your thighs.
    Childs Pose

  10. Move into Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Again)

    After your Child’s Pose break, step back into Downward-Facing Dog. Then, from Downward-Facing Dog, step forward toward your palms into Standing Forward Fold.Pose Five - Downward Facing Dog

  11. Move into Standing Forward Fold Pose (Again)

    Pause in Standing Forward Fold for a moment and take a few breaths.Pose Three - Standing Forward Fold

  12. Move into Half-Lift Pose (Again)

    Inhale, lift your chest halfway, pressing into your shins, thighs, or blocks as you did earlier.Pose 4 - Half-lift

  13. Move into Standing Forward Fold Pose (Again).

    While in Standing Forward Fold pose, exhale.Pose Three - Standing Forward Fold

  14. Move Into Upward Salute Pose (Again)

    As you start to inhale, rise all the way up to stand with your arms overhead.Pose Two - Upward Salute

  15. Finally, Move into Mountain Pose

    Exhale and move your arms to your sides in Mountain Pose

    You are now back at the short end of your mat, and that completes Sun Salutation A! Congratulations, you have now taken the first important steps to learning yoga!Pose One - Mountain Pose

Before you walk away from your mat completely, there’s one extra pose that is done in every class, not just after Sun Salutation. The final resting position after each practice is Corpse Pose.

Corpse Pose
Corpse Pose
Photo: Adobe Stock

Lie fully on your back, feet relaxed, thighs about as wide as your mat. Place your arms a few inches away from your body, palms facing up. Keep your eyes fully closed or softly open. This pose is generally held between 5 and 7 minutes. For some of us, being completely still is challenging. That’s totally normal. You may also notice that your mind wanders, goes off on tangents, and thinks of your to-do list. If you catch yourself in a thought train, congratulations! That’s you being mindful. To come back to a neutral mind, you can simply draw your awareness to your breath as a way to refresh and return to the present moment.

Adding the Breath

Yoga has a number of different breathing techniques that can be practiced alone or simultaneously with the poses. The main one to be familiar with is “victorious breath” (Ujjayi breath). This is a slow-breathing technique with equal-part inhales and exhales performed with lips sealed while breathing only through your nose, as described below.

Practicing Victorious Breath

If you’ve never practiced or heard of this breath style, it can be a little confusing. First, this style isn’t a sniffing type of breath. To become familiar with victorious breath, first take a normal deep breath in through your nose and, on the exhale, imagine trying to fog up a mirror in front of you. You could even do the “ha” sound that naturally comes out when you want to fog up a mirror. Practice that a few times: open mouth ha inhale, ha exhale. Once you’ve practiced that a few times, then with your lips sealed try creating the ha feeling in the back of your throat both on the inhale and exhale. Again, you’re breathing in and out through your nose. It may feel like you’re trying to whisper the word ha with your mouth closed. The breath is a bit audible, like a soothing, wavelike sound. If you need an audio explanation for this, listen to Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof.

III.Common Mistakes to Avoid

a.Common Learning Mistakes and Solutions

Taking time to get out of your comfort zone and learn something new is not an easy feat. This applies not only to learning yoga but also to learning a new language, a new instrument, or even a new job. I’ve noticed that being around others while learning something new may bring up some emotions. No one wants to make a fool of themselves in front of people—this is human nature and also one of the reasons why people avoid going to the gym the first time. I want to put this out there because I also experienced this in the beginning, so you are not alone if that’s coming up for you.

The following are some of the most prevalent concerns or misunderstandings that people have when beginning a yoga practice.

Beginner Mistake #1

“I’m not flexible, I can barely touch my toes. I can’t go back.”

While flexibility is a nice by-product of starting a yoga practice, it’s not a criterion or a requirement. Contrary to what social media or certain images of yoga portray, flexibility is not the goal of yoga.

Solution: The solution is to internalize that yoga does not require extreme flexibility. If you’re interested in learning more, read the Three Integral Parts of the Yoga Practice, which will help you understand why flexibility is not the goal.

Beginner Mistake #2

“I’m already active and healthy. It’s my first time trying yoga, but since I’m active, I’m going to step into an advanced or level two or three class.”

Being active is definitely an advantage for body awareness and being health-conscious, but stepping into an upper-level class when you don’t yet have yoga-specific skills may lead to injury.

A great analogy for this is comparing it to other disciplines—most people wouldn’t walk into an advanced ballet class simply because they are relatively active and healthy. Similarly, knowing how to read music definitely helps in learning a new instrument but it doesn’t mean you can pick up any instrument and start jamming out in a band.

Solution: A solution for this is to look for an introductory class online (like Glo) or at a nearby studio, or to schedule a private lesson with an instructor to learn the fundamentals. You need to learn the ABCs before you can start writing words so that later you can learn to form sentences. Same with yoga.

Beginner Mistake #3

“I can’t sit or lie still.”

This is a frequent concern for many people. Today’s fast-paced society has lots of distractions, from phones and smartwatches to whatever will hit the market next. Often I notice in my classes that it’s challenging for people to separate from their phones. Most people keep their phones faceup next to their mat. Similarly, with smartwatches becoming the norm, people are constantly checking in. The small chunk of time you spend during your practice is meant to remove you from those distractions. It’s totally normal if you can’t sit still. Part of the practice is to simply self-observe.

Solution: Two solutions for this: One, find a class that has lots of movement so that you can release all that need-to-move energy. Two, follow the breathing techniques or breath work the teacher demonstrates to create a certain cadence with your breath. When you’re instructed to breathe a certain way, that signals your nervous system to take the anxiousness, restlessness, or whatever is coming up for you down a few notches. This isn’t a cure-all, but many of my students have found that this supports them in being more present.

Beginner Mistake #4

“I went to one yoga class and hated it. Yoga is not my thing.”

Yoga may certainly not be your thing. While there is a type of yoga out there that should be accessible for everyone and for every body type, yoga could definitely not be your thing. Just how running isn’t for everyone or some people gravitate more toward swimming.

Solution: If this sounds like you, and if you only tried it once with one teacher, the solution I would offer is to try it again. Perhaps a different teacher, a different style, or privately one-on-one. Think of all the teachers you had in your life K–12, perhaps even college. There were some that you loved and some that you couldn’t stand. You loved some subjects, but some you just couldn’t get through. There’s no shame in saying that the teacher wasn’t a good fit for you or a style wasn’t right for you. It may just take more time to explore.

Beginner Mistake #5

“This is much harder than I thought.”

While this is more of a realization than a misconception, I bring it up because it’s one of the most common insights from first-timers. Not only is yoga physically harder than many people think, it can also be mentally harder than many expect. While yoga has a reputation for “positive talk,” “feel good,” “positive-vibes only,” moving your body in new ways while being silent with yourself can lead to challenging moments. Your body might feel sore the next day, but you may also experience emotions such as sadness, frustration, or agitation. Emotions that may not match that positive talk.

Solution: A solution for this is to acknowledge where you’re at and to realize that yoga may stir stuff up within you. That’s why so many people gravitate toward it as a transformative and therapeutic practice.

b.Common Time and Money Wasters

As an excited first-time yoga practitioner, it may be tempting to jump right into the deep end of yoga before you have had a chance to understand what exactly works for you. To help you avoid going too far, too fast, this section will explain how you can avoid wasting your time and money on common yoga pitfalls.

Mistake #1

“Trying out all the ‘newbie’ offerings at different studios.”

When you are exploring yoga options, you may see deals like “Unlimited yoga for $30 for one month” for first-time users, or ClassPass or Groupon deals. While these offers might be tempting, you’ll waste more money bouncing around from studio to studio than you will if you just stay put at one.

Solution: Choose one or two studios where you want to try the “newbie” special and then stick with one for a while. At that same studio, explore the different styles, teachers, class times, etc. When you first begin your practice, you want consistency, and what I notice when people hop from location to location or use services like ClassPass is that they fall off the practice wagon more quickly.

Mistake #2

“Immediately purchasing an expensive yoga mat or yoga gear.”

As mentioned earlier, there are some advantages to higher-priced yoga mats, but sometimes even the more expensive items aren’t appropriate for you or your body type. For example, my palms are really sweaty, so even if I had a $300 mat, I would still slip and slide during my practice.

Solution: Before you buy the upper-tier gear, get to know your practice first. To test out different options that may work for you, start by borrowing different mat types from your local studio. If you are practicing from home, try purchasing a few inexpensive options from your local department store or online retailer and then returning the options that don’t work for you.

c.Common Terms (and Usage)

To get familiar with yoga, the following are a few standard phrases to be aware of. If you’re taking a group class and you’re totally confused, feel free to peek around to see what others are doing. Or if you’re taking an online class on Glo, look up to see if anyone is demoing what they mean.

  • Sit bones: You’ll hear this phrase a lot in a yoga class. It’s an informal way to describe your buttocks or the anatomical term ischial tuberosity. It’s referring to your backside and, exactly as it describes, it’s the bones that you sit on.
  • Namaste: Most classes end with the instructor saying namaste. This is a Sanskrit greeting or a way to say “thank you.” It literally translates to “I bow to you.”
  • Om: Some instructors choose to end class with the sound of om. Know that you can silently sit there while others decide to say om. Om is more of a sound or vibration than a word, so it doesn’t exactly have an exact translation. It’s often described as the sound of the world.2 Kaitlin Daddona, “What Does OM Mean?,” https://www.doyouyoga.com/what-does-om-mean/
  • Tabletop: This means to come down to your hands and knees and create the shape of a table, where your arms and legs are the table legs and your back is the tabletop.
  • “Take a vinyasa”: Your instructor might say, “Option to take a vinyasa right now.” First, it’s totally up to you, so it’s fine if you skip it. What this means is to move from Downward-Facing Dog, to Plank, to Half-Plank, to your belly, to Cobra, and then back to Downward-Facing Dog.

The first time you attend a yoga class, you may hear the instructor use some unusual phrases or terms. Some of these may be in Sanskrit, which is the language that the ancient yoga texts were written in and therefore each yoga pose has a Sanskrit name, similar to how ballet positions each have a French name. Sanskrit dates back about 7,000 years to India. This ancient language was passed down orally through poems, chants, and songs until it was first written down around 1500 BCE in the form of the oldest-known yoga guide, the Rig Veda. You’ll see Sanskrit as the literary language in Buddhism and Jainism as well. It is similar to Latin in the sense that it is no longer spoken but has left behind many legacies.

One common category of yoga-specific lingo that frequently confuses new students is body terms. If you’ve never thought about your elbows or your tailbone, or the position that your spine is in when you stand, for example, there’s going to be a second where you need to locate and register where it is on your body before implementing the movement. So often I see first-time students look a bit confused in the beginning, but time and time again they continue to show up to class, and what seems like out of nowhere to me, they are moving from pose to pose with ease.

IV.Dive Deeper

a.Build Your Practice (30-Day Challenge)

Whether you’re starting off with Glo or on your own, you definitely want to start building your practice. If you opt for Glo, the program Yoga for Newcomers has a three-week program already set for you. You can set your schedule by clicking Set my schedule at the bottom of the Yoga for Newcomers page on Glo.

Glo Scheduling
Photo: Glo Scheduling

If you’d rather start practicing without Glo, the following is a four-week challenge that allows you to begin integrating the teachings of the mini-practice described earlier in Yoga Practice: A Walk-through. I suggest integrating this into your calendar so that you can remember practice days and break days.

Week 1: Body

This week’s goal is to get familiar with the poses.

Day of WeekExercise
SunPractice two rounds of Sun Salutation.
MonBreak
TuePractice three rounds of Sun Salutation.
WedBreak
ThuPractice four rounds of Sun Salutation.
FriRefresh. Go back to Getting Started to notice any new details and prepare for next week.
SatBreak

Week 2: Breath

This week’s goal is to bring attention to your breath while continuing to practice Sun Salutation. Try your best to link your breath with each movement as indicated in the mini-practice guide.

Day of WeekExercise
SunBefore you start moving, do two rounds of victorious breaths.

See if you can integrate the breath as you inhale and exhale during the two rounds of Sun Salutation.

MonBreak
TueBefore you start moving, do three rounds of victorious breaths. See if you can integrate the breath as you inhale and exhale during the three rounds of Sun Salutation.
WedBreak
ThuBefore you start moving, do four rounds of victorious breaths. See if you can integrate the breath as you inhale and exhale during the four rounds of Sun Salutation.
FriRefresh. Go back to Getting Started to notice any new details and prepare for next week.
SatBreak

Week 3: Mind

Goal: This week’s goal is to notice any moments of mind chatter or mind wandering. Where do your thoughts take you?

Day of WeekExercise
SunBefore you start moving, take a moment to see what’s floating in your mind. Are there any thoughts, emotions, or to-dos? Just make a mental note.

Do two rounds of Sun Salutation and try to notice when your mind wanders. Where does it go?
MonBreak
TueBefore you start moving, take a moment to see what’s floating in your mind. Are there any thoughts, emotions, or to-dos? Just make a mental note.

Do three rounds of Sun Salutation and try to notice when your mind wanders. Where does it go?
WedBreak
ThuBefore you start moving, take a moment to see what’s floating in your mind. Are there any thoughts, emotions, or to-dos? Just make a mental note.

Do four rounds of Sun Salutation and try to notice when your mind wanders. Where does it go?
FriRefresh. Go back to Getting Started to notice any new details and prepare for next week.
SatBreak

Week 4: Unite

Goal: This week’s goal is to integrate what you learned in weeks one through three and see if you can combine them! You may be familiar with the sequence by now, maybe you’ve even memorized the poses. Can you integrate your movement and breaths and notice how you feel?

Day of WeekExercise
SunTry your best this week to integrate the victorious breath as you do two rounds of Sun Salutation. As you move, notice any thoughts, emotions, or moments of mind wandering. Connect back to your body and your breath to bring you to the present moment.
MonBreak
TueTry your best this week to integrate the victorious breath as you do three rounds of Sun Salutation. As you move, notice any thoughts, emotions, or moments of mind wandering. Connect back to your body and your breath to bring you to the present moment.
WedBreak
ThuTry your best this week to integrate the victorious breath as you do four rounds of Sun Salutation. As you move, notice any thoughts, emotions, or moments of mind wandering. Connect back to your body and your breath to bring you to the present moment.
FriTake time today to reflect on how much you’ve learned and accomplished!
SatBreak

b.How to Find Your Community

Finding a community is essential to staying connected to your practice, whether it’s online or in-person. Below are a few helpful tips.

Online

In addition to Glo.com, another online community you may enjoy is Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. You can also find a community by searching “yoga + your interest.” For example, if you’re a runner, search for “yoga + running.” Or if you’re trying to alleviate a symptom like anxiety, type in “yoga + anxiety.” This will narrow down your yoga options and help you find like-minded people.

In-Person

Similarly, if you’re interested in finding an in-person community, do a quick search for “yoga + beginners + your city.” Look at the websites for studios near you, look for the About page for the instructors, and read the teacher bios to identify instructors who may share non-yoga interests or world views with you. Either set up a private one-on-one class with them or attend their public class.

c.Geek Out: Dive Even Deeper

Yoga is a complex system that has many different facets. It’s estimated that yoga has been around for about 5,000 years; it’s more popular than ever and slowly changing as it adapts to American culture. A 2016 study estimates that more than 36 million people practice yoga.3 “2016 Yoga in America Study Conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance Reveals Growth and Benefits of the Practice,” Yoga Alliance, Jan. 13, 2016, https://www.yogaalliance.org/

To start your yoga practice, you don’t necessarily need to understand or know all the details and nuances of the different styles or philosophies. Actually, the great part about starting a yoga practice is the journey it takes you on. When you first begin, it may be for something specific, such as physical well-being or bringing calmness into your life. As you progress, and if you choose to dive deeper, the yoga world is vast and endless. That’s why we call it a practice—it never ends. You are constantly practicing and learning.

The following section discusses the foundational aspects of yoga practice so that you can feel empowered as you start your own. You’ll see that yoga involves much more than physical poses, which is what is portrayed the most. If you’re curious about one of the items, feel free to research on your own and see where it takes you.

Three Integral Parts of the Yoga Practice

  • Body
  • Breath
  • Mind

While there are many ways to define yoga and many different yoga styles, generally the practice involves moving the body, breathing, and bringing awareness to your mind. Those three—body, breath, and mind—are what create the mind-body connection, that is, uniting body and mind.4“The Mind-Body: Emotions and Health,” NIH Medline Plus, Winter 2008, pp. 4–7, https://magazine.medlineplus.gov/pdf/winter2008.pdf

Body + Breath + Mind = Mind-Body Connection

Yoga is about restoring harmony within the mind-body complex and connecting with your natural state of being.5S. B. Khalsa et al., eds., The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care (Pencaitland, Scot.: Handspring Publishing, 2016), 17.

[Yoga is the] union of breath, mind, and senses and the abandonment of distracting thought

Maitri Upanishad (6.25)

In these three (body, breath, and mind), we aspire to create a place of silence. Historically, the physical practice of yoga was used to prepare the body to sit in meditation.6 “Meditation Prep,” Yoga Journal, https://www.yogajournal.com/meditation/meditation-classes/meditation-prep In order for yogis to sit for long periods of time in meditation, they needed limber hips, a strong back, and a mind refocused on intentional breathing; when doing challenging poses, they were forced to stay in the present moment, which is one of the intentional experiences in meditation. I like to think of it as a tune-up for the body to then enter the mind.

The Body

We start with the most tangible and obvious, the physical body, which is the armor for our internal organs. Many practitioners are interested in yoga as a means of improving their health, which makes sense since historically these teachings recognized imbalances in health as an obstacle to achieving personal progress and growth.7S. B. Khalsa et al., The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care, 18. At times, our physical body experiences tension, aches, or pains, and we use the physical poses (asana) to bring awareness and ease to them. The following are some common questions about the physical aspects of yoga.

  • Why is stretching an integral part of yoga? Stretching keeps the body flexible, strong, and healthy. We all need a healthy range of motion in our joints to avoid pain, strains, and muscle damage. Because of our modern sedentary lifestyle, stretching is increasingly important, as more and more people are experiencing stiffness in their joints and muscles at a much younger age.
  • Why is strengthening so important in yoga? There is such a thing as overstretching, which creates instability in your body. Many hypermobile individuals gravitate toward yoga because they feel they are already “good” at the stretching part, but what those practitioners really need are strength and stability. With too much stretching and not enough strengthening, tissues lose their ability to recoil, and the elasticity of the connective tissues decreases. If tissues are chronically overstretched, the muscles become more vulnerable and develop painful “microtears.”8 Jill Miller, “Is Too Much Stretching Bad for You? YTU Takes You from Floppy to Fit,” Tune Up Fitness, March 16, 2011, https://www.tuneupfitness.com/blog/2011/03/16/overstretching/ If you’re stretching a certain muscle group, it’s important to also strengthen it. Whether you strengthen it during yoga class, afterward at the gym, or with a personal trainer, it’s important to find the balance between stretching and strengthening.
  • Why are balance and coordination important in yoga? Having proper balance is important in such day-to-day activities as walking and going up and down stairs. Including balance and coordination exercises in your life can help prevent falls that are common as people get older or in people with various health conditions. The American Heart Association recommends including balance exercises along with endurance and strength exercises.
The Breath

The breath is the bridge between the physical and nonphysical. We can feel the breath move in our physical body when we take a deep breath in and see our rib cage expand, but we can’t actually see the breath. The entire time that you’re moving during yoga practice, you want to be aware of your breath. The breath serves as an object of attention, which is often characterized as “focused-attention mindfulness.” As you continue to practice, you’ll naturally progress toward open-focus attention, which means simultaneously monitoring movement, breath, and the sensations of both the physical body and the subtle internal body.9S. B. Khalsa et al., The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care, 52.

  • Why do we breathe this way in yoga? As previously mentioned, this style of breathing provides a point of focus in your practice, which is when yoga goes from physical exercise to moving meditation. Anatomically, this style of breathing encourages some resistance in the throat muscles associated with breathing. These muscles are linked to the nerves in your brain that promote a more restful state in your nervous system, as opposed to being stressed out. Furthermore, some studies show that this style of breath is linked to alertness and executive functioning, such as paying attention, your working memory, and flexible thinking.10S. B. Khalsa et al., The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care, 53.
The Mind

Finally, the most subtle and intangible of the three is the mind. One could argue that this is the most important pillar of the three in a yoga-based practice. Your thoughts, emotions, and whatever content is playing on the screen of your mind is visible only to you. No one else can see your thoughts.

One of the first goals and teachings in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a major ancient yoga philosophy text, says, “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.”11Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, (Ashland, OH: Integral Yoga Publications, 2012), 3. I mention this to emphasize that the poses are not necessarily the star of the show, as this quote demonstrates. Often people don’t realize that yoga is actually defined by eight different pillars, also described as the Eight Limbs of Yoga.12S. B. Khalsa et al., The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care, 19. These are our sense of integrity, discipline, the actual poses, breath, inward observation, concentration, meditation, and interconnection. While the poses are necessary, they are perhaps simply the backdrop of the scene, with the attention and objective of the yoga practice to work with the mind.13Brenda Umana, “Parts of the Mind You *Need* to Know About,” https://beeumana.com/mindfulness-4-parts-of-the-mind-you-need-to-know-about/ The mind in this yoga context has four parts: the unconscious mind, the emotional mind, the intelligent mind, and our sense of “me” or “I’” mind.

How does practicing yoga poses help with the mind?

Practicing the poses and becoming aware of your breath puts you in that focused-attention awareness. When your attention is focused or refocused, it reduces mind wandering and rumination. Mind wandering is that spontaneous thought process that is sometimes directionless or unconscious. Rumination is the process of lingering over negative thoughts and emotions. Both of these can be reduced by engaging in focused-attention practices like yoga that support the ability to disentangle from constant thinking, negative thoughts, or distraction.14S. B. Khalsa et al., The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care, 56. Over time and with practice this leads to increased ability to hold and regulate attention and improved self-regulation skills, such as stress response and emotional regulation.

Most Common Yoga Styles

Yoga has many different schools and styles: In my research for this guide, I estimated between 43 and 56 styles and schools.15S. B. Khalsa et al., The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care, 27. Furthermore, as the American culture continues to adapt yoga to fit its needs, new forms and styles arise, such as Trap Vinyasa and even Goat Yoga. The following is a snapshot of the seven most common styles that you could encounter and includes a mix of both traditional and modern.

  • Hatha yoga: The word hatha simply refers to the physical yoga postures, meaning that it actually applies to most yoga styles, since they all have a physical component to them. Currently, it is most often used to describe an unhurried practice style, making this a great option for first-time practitioners and those interested in longer stretches and holds.
  • Ashtanga yoga: Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic and athletic form of yoga. Students follow a rigorous six series practice, or you could think of them as six levels (not six poses but six different levels of a set of poses), with each series gradually progressing from the other. Because of the nature of this progression, practitioners generally exercise at their own pace without guidance from the teacher leading the class. Students practice in the same room, but most likely at different parts of the series. The instructor walks around the room either assisting students, guiding specific students into the next series, and/or guiding newcomers to the practice in the first series.
  • Vinyasa yoga: Vinyasa is currently the most popular yoga style. The word vinyasa is derived from the Sanskrit term nyasa, meaning “to place,” and the prefix vi, “in a special way.” The style generally means the practice flows from pose to pose, linking movement to breath. What’s a bit confusing about this label is that vinyasa also refers to some of the movements discussed in the mini-practice. The movements in poses five through seven are a vinyasa. You may hear the instructor say “take a vinyasa” or simply “vinyasa,” which means to perform those series of poses.
  • Iyengar yoga: This style is based on the teachings of B. K. S. Iyengar, an Indian teacher who brought yoga to the West. This practice emphasizes alignment and a variety of props, such as a bolsters, straps, and chairs, to carefully sequence poses.
  • Kundalini yoga: Kundalini is a vigorous style of yoga that involves breath work, meditation, chanting, and repeated movement. Any of these methods can be held between 3 and 20 minutes. The intention behind this practice is to awaken the energy at the base of your spine (known as kundalini energy) and pull it upward through your body, increasing sensory awareness.
  • Yin yoga: Yin yoga is a therapeutic approach that entails holding poses for several minutes and stretching the connective tissue around a joint. It was formerly known as Taoist Yin Yoga for its hybrid theories of yoga philosophy and Chinese energy mapping.
  • Restorative yoga: Restorative yoga is based on some of the teachings of Iyengar yoga. A typical restorative class includes five or six poses that are supported with bolsters, blankets, and blocks, each pose being held for 3 to 5 minutes. A central benefit of this style is that it promotes the relaxation response in the nervous system. The long-held poses allow the body to return to prestress levels by balancing hormones, relieving tensions, and reducing the heart rate. This style of yoga is linked to trauma-informed yoga. Drawing from neuroscience, developmental psychology, and somatic experiencing theories, trauma-informed yoga addresses anxiety, depression, behavioral issues, relationship stress, and health issues. These symptoms are often the result of unresolved trauma. The goal of a trauma-informed yoga practice is to build resiliency and establish greater self-regulation.16“What Is Trauma-Informed Yoga?,” Omega, May 17, 2017, https://www.eomega.org/article/what-is-trauma-informed-yoga

d.Helpful Resources

The number of learning resources available on the topic of yoga is infinite. If I feel overwhelmed, I can only imagine what a first-time yoga student might feel. The following list is a starting point to jump off from—it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Most Helpful Books to Start Yoga

  • The Key Poses of Yoga: Scientific Keys, Volume II, by Ray Long. I admire the photos in this book, which takes you through a skeletal and muscular approach in several yoga poses. While reading it from start to finish may be too dense for some, looking up poses as you learn them can support your practice. Start by looking up the poses from the mini-practice above.
  • The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice, by T. K. V. Desikachar. This is one of those foundational books presented to everyone in teacher training. It provides a bit of everything: physical poses, philosophy, and yoga history, along with some old-school yoga photos.

Most Helpful YouTube Channel

  • Yoga with Adriene: Adriene’s channel has a huge variety of classes, styles, lengths, and needs. Her YouTube classes make yoga accessible for everyone; she also has an amazing personality.

Essential Experts in the Field

In writing this guide, this was the most challenging section for me to sum up. This field has so many experts, and because yoga has so many facets and styles, each of its niches has experts as well. What follows is a brief list of some current experts hitting on the three integral pillars.

  • Tiffany Cruikshank: Cruikshank is the founder of Yoga Medicine. She is internationally acclaimed for her ability to fuse the two worlds of Eastern and Western medicine and apply it to the practice of yoga in an accessible and relevant way. She has been teaching for over 20 years, has a bachelor’s degree in Medicinal Plant Biology and a master’s in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, with a specialty in Sports Medicine and Orthopedics. At one point, she was the head wellness expert at the Nike headquarters.
  • Jason Crandell: Crandell has a straightforward approach to teaching yoga. With over 15 years of teaching experience, his approach is accessible and grounded, integrating the best elements of power yoga, anatomical precision, and mindfulness teachings.
  • Judith Hanson Lasater: Lasater is a physical therapist with a doctorate in East-West Psychology who has taught yoga around the world since 1971. She is the founder of Yoga Journal magazine and is recognized internationally in popularizing Iyengar and Restorative yoga.
  • Seane Corn: Corn is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher known for her impassioned activism, unique self-expression, and inspirational teaching style. She runs a nonprofit foundation called Off the Mat, Into the World and has been pivotal in bringing the teachings of yoga outside of the studio.
  • Edwin Bryant: Edwin Bryant is a yoga philosophy expert and professor of the religions of India at Rutgers University. His books include a translation of The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali. His translations are known for being clear, direct, and exact, and he is considered a preeminent scholar in his field.

V.Research Methodology

a.Considered Opinions

I’ve taught nearly 3,000 yoga classes in the past six years in both the United States and India. I hold a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University and I teach up to 15 yoga classes per week. I value continued education in my field and have participated in the following continuing education workshops and received the following certifications:

  • Anatomy with Jason Crandell and Paul B. Roache, MD
  • Yoga Nidra with Mona Anand
  • India Philosophy Training, Jiva Institute in Vrindavan, India
  • Bhagavad Gita Philosophy Training with Robert Lindsey
  • Restorative Teacher Training with BodyWise Institute
  • Vedic Path Meditation with James Brown

I’ve taught yoga at studios, in private homes, in corporate settings, and at universities. I used both my scientific knowledge and my firsthand experience in six years of teaching to create this guide. In my spare time, I’m typically listening to a yoga podcast, creating the curriculum for my classes, or improving my craft.

b.Key Research Considerations

Over the years, when my students ask me what they can do to keep up with their practice when they are either traveling or on a budget and can’t afford a studio membership, I always recommend Glo to them. They come back to me and express how much they love it and they usually end up keeping their membership, even after they are done traveling or can afford a studio membership again. While there are other online platforms to choose from (such as MyYogaWorks, OneOEight, and OMStars, to name a few), Glo has two main distinctions that went into picking it as the main learning resource:

  • It’s not linked or attached to any particular instructor or influencer. It’s completely unbiased in the sense that it’s not highlighting any particular instructor or style. It’s simply putting up some of the best instructors and catering to the different practitioners out there.
  • The quality of the video content has always been excellent and it’s only improved over the years. While it does depend on the speed of your internet connection, I’ve never had issues with loading, audio, or freezing.

c.Final Thoughts

While this guide covered a lot of ground, I hope you are excited to know that this is only the beginning. Some of my favorite memories are of taking my first classes, because there is beauty in being completely new to something. Remember that you are unique and your practice is going to look and feel like no one else’s. On this new journey, invite curiosity into your body, breath, and mind. Make new connections with teachers. Let friends and family know you’re starting yoga—maybe they’ll want to join you! The possibilities of how yoga can change your life are endless and I’m so excited for you to start.

Sources

“2016 Yoga in America Study Conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance Reveals Growth and Benefits of the Practice.” Yoga Alliance, Jan. 13, 2016. https://www.yogaalliance.org/

“American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids.” American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults

Arguetty, Danny. “Yoga Month: Sound Mental Health.” The Whole U, University of Washington, Oct. 8, 2018. https://www.washington.edu/wholeu/2018/10/08/yoga-and-sound-mental-health/

Brathen, Rachel. Yoga Girl. New York: Touchstone, 2014. See also Brathen’s website at https://www.yogagirl.com/

Carmody, J. and R. A. Baer. “Relationships between Mindfulness Practice and Levels of Mindfulness, Medical and Psychological Symptoms and Well-Being in a Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction Program.” PubMed.gov, Feb 2008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17899351

Chandwani, K. D., G. Perkins, H. R. Nagendra, N. V. Raghuram et al. “Randomized Controlled Trial of Yoga in Women with Breast Cancer Undergoing Radiotherapy.” Journal of Clinical Oncology 32, no. 10 (April 1, 2014). https://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/JCO.2012.48.2752

Connolly, Brian. “The Benefits of Yoga Stretching.” Chron. https://livehealthy.chron.com/benefits-yoga-stretching-2634.html

Desikachar, T. K. V. The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice, rev. ed. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1999.

Ginty, Molly. “Learn Sanskrit: What Yoga Students and Teachers Need to Know.” Yoga Journal, Oct. 5, 2018. https://www.yogajournal.com/teach/secrets-of-sanskrit

Grilley, Paul. “Why Try Yin Yoga.” Yoga Journal, April 6, 2017. https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/yin-yoga-2

“Hatha Yoga.” Yoga Journal. https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/types-of-yoga/hatha

“The Importance of Stretching.” Harvard Health Letter, Sept. 2013. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching

Khalsa, S. B., Lorenzo Cohen, Timothy McCall, and Shirley Telles, eds. The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care. Pencaitland, Scot.: Handspring Publications, 2016.

Kunnumakkara, A. B., B. L. Sailo, K. Banik, C. Harsha et al. “Chronic Diseases, Inflammation, and Spices: How Are They Linked?” Journal of Translational Medicine 16, no. 1 (Jan. 25, 2018). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29370858

Laster, Judith. “Snap, Crackle, Pop: What’s With Noisy Joints?” Yoga Journal, April 12, 2017. https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/noisy-joints

Long, Ray. The Key Poses of Yoga: Scientific Keys, vol. II, 3rd ed. Baldwinsville, NY: Bandha Yoga, 2009.

“The Mind-Body: Emotions and Health.” NIH MedlinePlus, Winter 2008, pp. 4–7. https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/winter08/articles/winter08pg4.html

Morgan, Nani, Michael R. Irwin, Mei Chung, and Chenchen Wang. “The Effects of Mind-Body Therapies on the Immune System: Meta-Analysis.” Plos One, July 2, 2014. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0100903

Savage, Jenny. “Ashtanga Yoga: The Primary and Intermediate Series.” EkhartYoga. https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/practice/ashtanga-yoga-the-primary-and-intermediate-series

Shiel, William C., Jr. “Hypermobility Syndrome (Joint Hypermobility Syndrome).” MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/

Streeter, C. C., P. L. Gerbarg, R. B. Saper, D. A. Ciraulo, and R. P. Brown. “Effects of Yoga on the Autonomic Nervous System, gamma-Aminobutyric-acid, and Allostasis in Epilepsy, Depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” PubMed.gov, May 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22365651

Tegelberg, Ann. “Yoga Month: 8 Physical Benefits of Yoga.” The Whole U, University of Washington, Oct. 1, 2018. https://www.washington.edu/wholeu/2018/10/01/yoga_month_2018_week1/

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About the Author

Brenda Umana

Brenda Umana is a wellness advocate who has crafted her career as a yoga, mindfulness, and public health professional. With a Master of Public Health from Columbia University, her main goal is to share these practices and make them approachable to everyone. These practices have been pivotal in her own path to health, both physical and emotional. Because mental health is a current public health issue, she believes emotional wellness is as much a public health crisis now as obesity, chronic diseases, and mental health. She currently teaches in Seattle and leads international wellness retreats. Brenda is currently working toward becoming an Emotional Wellness Coach to complement her knowledge and passion for total well-being for all. www.beeumana.com


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