the benefits of yoga and how to do yoga

We all know someone who is a yoga-obsessed and swears by the mindful practice for

We all know someone who is a yoga-obsessed and swears by the mindful practice for improving their health and wellbeing. While you might not be interested in getting up at 5am every morning for a Vinyasa, if you’re curious about yoga for beginners and want to know more, you’re in the right place.

Forget the images you’ve seen of yogis standing on their heads or doing back bends, the essence of yoga is doing what feels good for you. Moving your body and relaxing your mind is the ultimate goal.

This content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

To help you get started we spoke to yoga teacher Jonelle Lewis and founder of Compass Chelsea yoga and fitness studio Alexandra Baldi.

From the benefits of yoga to the best yoga practices for beginners, if you’re ready to try something new and find your flow, read on…

What is yoga?

Developed thousands of years ago in ancient India, yoga is a practice that connects the body and mind. It’s a form of exercise that focuses on building strength and increasing flexibility through a series of yoga poses done on a mat. The combination of moving mindfully and focusing on the breath can improve physical and mental wellbeing.

“It’s a mind and body connection,” Alexandra told us, “How you feel physically can be a direct result of where you’re at mentally. Yoga can help you to connect those dots”.

In a beginner’s yoga class, you can expect to focus on the importance of breathing along with building on your flexibility.

“I say this to everybody, breathing is key and I’m absolute stickler for it,” Alexandra said.

yoga for beginners

Silke WoweriesGetty Images

“The deeper the breath, the more oxygen that goes into the muscles and the deeper they can go into the poses. I often see beginners failing to breathe, and hammer home that I need to hear the breath, because otherwise you’re not allowing yourself to fully release and surrender into the pose,” she added.

“This takes time, so beginners should expect to learn how to breathe first before being able to touch their toes. Over time they will an increase in their ability to stretch and their flexion.”

Who can do yoga?

Everyone and anyone can do yoga and the practice is not ‘one size fits all’, according to Alexandra. It’s about finding a type of yoga that makes you feel good.

Often we see pictures on social media of people doing headstands, but Jonelle emphasised how misleading this is.

“What’s really important, and usually a big selling point for people who might be a little apprehensive, is that it’s not like traditional forms of exercise,” Jonelle said.

She added: “Sometimes we see pictures of people doing yoga with their legs behind their head or doing lots of complicated poses, but it’s not really like that. I’d say that’s less than 1% of what people who practice yoga do.

“Most people are just everyday people who are practicing yoga because it really does feel good and it makes them feel better.”

yoga for beginners

ljubaphotoGetty Images

What are the benefits of yoga?

There are lots of benefits of yoga, and with consistent practice beginners can expect to see changes to their mental wellbeing and physical health.

Mental wellbeing

“It’s a holistic process that really forces you to be present, to become in tune with how you’re feeling and become more mindful,” Alexandra said.

Alexandra incorporates three key principles into her yoga classes to help her students be more mindful. These include being mindful of how you’re treating yourself and others, focusing on and delving deeper into the breath, and loving yourself exactly as you are without judgment.

“It’s a gradual process, but once you open your mind to yoga you start to see that mental shift. You start to see an awareness with how you’re moving throughout your day and become more in tune with how you’re feeling,” Alexandra added.

This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Jonelle experienced similar positive effects of yoga after taking up the practice when she was pregnant with her now 16-year-old daughter and subsequently going on to train as a yoga teacher.

“When I first started practicing yoga I noticed it helped me respond to challenges that came up, as opposed to reacting to everything. It made me feel a lot less stressed and able to live my life a little bit better,” Jonelle said.

“The benefits for my mind really started to outweigh the benefits for my body. It was making me a lot more reflective and thoughtful, a lot more compassionate towards myself and a lot more compassionate towards other people.”

Physical health

A consistent yoga practice can also have lots of benefits for physical health. According to Alexandra, these can include an increase in flexibility, toned and defined muscles, a lowering of blood pressure, weight loss, stress and tension release in the hip flexors, and overall yoga can leave you feeling more balanced.

“It can aid in weight loss in the sense that you’re moving more and using your body weight, but it will make you more mindful and conscious of how you’re living your daily life too,” Alexandra said.

What is the best type of yoga for beginners?

If you’re keen to get stuck into combining movement with the breath, Alexandra recommended starting out with a beginner’s class that will incorporate some traditional yoga poses.

If you want to ease into the practice instead, you can try a Yin Yoga class that combines light stretching and breathing.

This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Alexandra often tells beginners to stick with the same yoga class for a month, to build confidence and routine before moving onto a more advanced class such as a slow restorative Vinyasa which involves the smooth transition of one yoga pose to another.

What are yoga clothes?

You don’t need to buy new sports clothes for yoga but comfortable leggings and a supportive sports bra are best. Ideally you should take your socks off for a better grip during practice, or you can buy specific high-grip socks so you don’t slip on the mat.

Can I do yoga at home?

Starting off by practicing yoga at home is a great way to get comfortable with coming to the mat, focusing on your breath and moving slowly and mindfully.

With that said, you don’t need fancy yoga kit to begin, Jonelle suggests finding a beginner’s yoga class on YouTube and just getting started from the comfort of your own home, by laying down a blanket or a towel.

yoga for beginners

Alistair BergGetty Images

“Do it in the privacy of your home and do it on a regular basis. Then you can see the improvement and if you like what’s happening and how it makes you feel, you can invest more time into your practice,” Jonelle said.

Top tips for beginners

Ignore everyone else

If you’re taking a class at a studio, Alexandra’s top tip is always ignore everyone else in the room.

“Don’t look around you, focus on the instructor and listen to what they’re saying,” she said, “Even if you sit on the mat and you don’t do anything, being present and in the room, listening and watching, is the first step towards understanding yoga”.

“It’s just you, the mat and the sound of the instructor’s voice, that’s all you need,” Alexandra added.

Commit to a routine

Committing time to yourself and your practice is key to getting into a yoga routine.

Jonelle suggested committing to 10 to 30 minutes, three times a week to get started and build your confidence.

yoga for beginners

RyanJLaneGetty Images

“You don’t have to do something that’s long and complicated. Making that commitment to the time and finding a routine that suits you is going to help build your confidence,” Jonelle said.

Try an online class

There are so many resources online to help you get started. From Youtube videos to apps like Down Dog and online video services such as Movement for Modern Life (where Jonelle hosts her online classes), it couldn’t be easier to dip your toe into the mindful exercise and start practising yoga at home.

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.


In need of some positivity? Get delicious recipe ideas, uplifting lifestyle news, and fashion and beauty tips. Make the most of your time at home and enjoy Good Housekeeping delivered directly to your door every month!


This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at

Source Article