15 FAQs For Yoga Beginners

Convinced yoga isn’t for you? Think again. The health benefits of a regular yoga practice are well documented. Lower stress levels, better sleep, increased energy levels, greater feelings of happiness, improved flexibility, stronger posture and increased muscle tone are just some of the benefits of a regular yoga practice.

To help get you started with a regular yoga practice, we have answered the 15 most common questions that beginner yogis ask.

1.   How do I pick a yoga style?

Yoga is a technique that comes in many different styles. One way to determine the right one for yourself is to read about the various styles and think about which one sounds right. Another option is to attend a few different beginner classes so you can actually get a feel for the styles you’re interested in. A third option is not to pick a style at all and enjoy many different poses and classes.

You may also want to consider looking for yoga styles that align with your particular goals.

Are you doing yoga for fitness?

To lose weight?

For relaxation?

To manage pain?

To ease discomfort from sitting all day?

2.   Do I have to say “om”?

In traditional yoga and meditation, “om” is considered the sound of the universe. It’s a mantra that is chanted in order to create particular vibrations. And it can help to focus your mind. That being said, it’s not necessary to chant a mantra during yoga. You can use it if it helps you get into the right mindset, or you can never say “om” once.

3.   Is yoga the same thing as meditation?

Yoga and meditation are not exactly the same thing. But yoga can be thought of as a type of moving meditation. After all, mindfulness and focus on breathing are aspects of both meditation and yoga.

4.   Is yoga a religious practice?

Yoga is not a religion, though the confusion is common because meditation is often recommended in certain religious practices. That being said, yoga practice started as a philosophy, and it often intersects with other philosophies such as Buddhism. You do not, however, have to practice any other philosophies or religions in order to practice yoga and benefit from it.

5.   Is it important to have an instructor?

Having a trained and registered yoga instructor can be a major help for beginners to the practice. You don’t have to have an in person instructor, but they can make sure you are performing the poses correctly so that you get the most benefit and avoid injuries. You can ask people you know which teachers they’ve liked. Also, trust your judgement on whether a particular instructor makes you feel safe and comfortable.

6.   What about online yoga classes?

If there aren’t good yoga instructors near you, or you just prefer to practice at home, there are certainly good classes available online. Many yoga instructors who teach in person also provide online instruction. As with any professional instruction, the best classes are probably not going to be free. But you can find free information to help you get started.

7.   Are there special diet rules for yoga?

Some yoga practitioners take the philosophy of non-harm to self and others, ahimsa, to mean that they should not eat meat. You do not have to become a vegetarian, however, to practice yoga. Really, the only food rule you should follow is to wait a couple hours after eating before you perform yoga, or do yoga before you’ve eaten in the morning.

If performing yoga on an empty stomach makes you feel faint, you can eat something light 30 minutes to an hour before your practice. When to eat prior to yoga is really a matter of personal comfort. A full stomach can make it difficult to perform some of the poses or cause indigestion.

8.   How often can I practice yoga

Yoga is generally safe to do as often as you like. The more you do it, the more benefits you receive from it. The important thing is that you make yoga a habit. Start a routine and stick with it, even if that is only one day a week in the beginning. Don’t miss the day or days you have scheduled for yoga.

9.   Can I do yoga if I’m not flexible?

When you see advanced yoga practitioners performing contortions, it can be easy to feel like you’re not flexible enough for yoga. That’s not true though. You don’t need to be particular flexible in order to benefit from yoga. You just need to enter the poses at a point that is comfortable for you. Don’t push your body beyond its capabilities.

10.   Will yoga make me more flexible?

Adding on to the answer from the previous question, yoga will actually make you more flexible. So don’t worry if you aren’t flexible to start. It is a practice, which means you should expect to improve as you go, not start out an expert. You wouldn’t expect to start a beginner baking class with master cake making skills, would you?

11.   Should I lose weight before beginning yoga?

There is no need to lose weight before starting yoga. People of all sizes enjoy it and receive benefit. You may just find that regular yoga practice does help you to lose weight, though, especially if you are doing more high-intensity yoga.

Yes, yoga can help you grow stronger and gain muscle. Again, your results depend on which type of yoga you practice.

12.   Do I need special supplies to do yoga?

This is a common misconception with beginners. Don’t avoid practicing yoga because you don’t have all the stuff. You don’t really need anything but your body to get started.

13.   What’s up with yoga pants?

Yoga pants have become a huge market, even for people who don’t do yoga at all. And why not? They’re comfortable! But you don’t have to wear them. Practice in any clothes that feel right to you.

14.   Should I give up if yoga feels hard?

No, don’t give up. Everything is challenging when you’re a beginner. Remember learning to write? Your hand muscles could barely hold the pencil correctly. Now you probably don’t have to think about it at all. If a class or pose is too difficult, find a new one that is better for your current ability level.

I hope that answers all your beginner yoga questions! Check out the other articles here for more yoga information.