Yoga for beginners: a guide to get you started

From the equipment you need to its benefits and beginner poses.

Best yoga essentials for beginners

by Stephanie Spencer |
Updated on

Whether you're young, old, a fitness fanatic or a total newbie, it's never too late to jump on a yoga mat and try some yoga for beginners. Yoga is a brilliant practice for the body, mind and soul. It boasts a wealth of physical and mental benefits, from reducing stress to strengthening your body, working as a mobility exercise and helping you feel more at peace with oneself. Even the practice of eye yoga has some brilliant benefits for the body and eye health.

If you've never tried yoga before, it can feel quite daunting, especially if all you've seen are super flexible yogis performing some very impressive-looking poses. But you don't let this put you off, as you don't have to be super flexible to engage in this practice. "The main purpose of yoga, no matter which style you choose, is to calm the mayhem of the mind," says Chatty Dobson, Yoga Teacher & Owner of FLEX Chelsea. "It teaches us patience, endurance, how to find peace in discomfort, and most famously – flexibility, strength and muscle toning."

Best yoga essentials for beginners at a glance:

Best yoga mat for grip: Yogi Bare PAWS – EXTREME GRIP Yoga Exercise Mat – Buy now on Amazon UK
Best woman's top for yoga: Luxe Longline Yoga Top – Buy now on Bam
Best yoga leggings for stretchiness: SINOPHANT high waisted leggings – Buy now on Amazon UK
Best bra for yoga: CRZ yoga sports bra – Buy now on Amazon UK
Best yoga blocks for beginners: EXERZ Yoga Blocks 2pcs – Buy now on Amazon UK

The best bit? You can do yoga practically anywhere, and there are plenty of yoga apps for beginners and YouTube tutorials to help get you started if you don't feel ready to attend a class. In this handy yoga for beginners guide, we break down the benefits of this ancient practice, the best poses to get you going, and the appropriate attire to wear.

You want to feel comfortable during yoga so that you're able to move freely and perform the poses. Avoid anything loose-fitting, as you don't want your clothes flapping around in your face while doing your poses. A pair of gym leggings are usually best, along with a supportive sports bra or sports top.

Best yoga essentials for beginners

Best yoga mat for grip

Yogi Bare PAWS - EXTREME GRIP Yoga Exercise MatAmazon/Yogi Bare PAWS

Yoga is one form of exercise you don't need to splash the cash on in terms of equipment, but one item Chatty does recommend buying is a yoga mat: "It definitely helps to have a decent yoga mat, as cheap ones tend to have bad grip which will lead to shoulder pain and possibly injury". Remember to remove your shoes and socks so that you have a better grip on the mat.

Having the right yoga mat can enhance how you hold your poses. Made from sustainable, vegan rubber, this 'extreme grip' yoga mat promises to hold you and your poses despite how much of a sweat you might work up. Its closed-cell rubber also makes it naturally resistant to bacteria, and it also has just under 1,000 five-star ratings.

A customer comments: "I tried one of their Yogi Bare mats and was wildly impressed by how the grip immediately made my practice feel more solid and I was able to deepen my poses."

Your joints are supported and the non-slip mat won't slip or bunch up during your workout.
Furthermore, the rubber material is resistant to bacteria so it provides a hygienic surface, that's also easy to wipe clean.

Pros

  • Non-slip grip
  • Five colours to choose from
  • Eco-friendly rubber

Cons

  • The colour of the mat can rub off onto your skin

Best woman's top for yoga

Luxe Longline Yoga TopBamboo Clothing

Feeling comfortable in clothing is essential for yoga, and this lightweight and soft Luxe Longline Yoga Top is ideal. It's flattering and comes in three colours, plus a range of sizes.

A customer comments: "I like that it’s a longer top because I prefer having more coverage while wearing yoga pants."

Additionally, the deep cuffs and thumb loops make it practical when doing yoga poses.

Pros

  • Available in a range of sizes and colours
  • Flattering and soft against skin
  • Practical thumb loops for gym and yoga

Cons

  • Customer comments that it comes up large

Best yoga leggings for stretchiness

A best-seller on Amazon, these non-see-through leggings are available in a wonderful array of bright colours and sizes. Reasonably priced, it's worth purchasing more than one pair, as a customer advises: "It's worthwhile getting as a pack rather than single. At the time of purchase, the packs of 3 are better value."

Made from 92% polyester and 8% spandex, these SINOPHANT high-waisted leggings are super soft and stretchy and will allow you to get into your yoga poses with ease.

A customer praises their washability and fit: "Colour is good, washed well, so it is so far so good. The small fitted fine on my slightly chunky legs."

Pros

  • Super soft
  • Opaque material
  • Wide range of colours

Cons

  • Small sizing

Best bra for yoga

CRZ yoga sports braAmazon/CRZ
Price: $26.00

This sports bra will provide wire-free support, keeping you comfortable whether you are a small or larger cup size. You can focus on your workout and feel the benefit of a supportive-fitting bra. Receiving close to 5,000 positive reviews, one customer comments: "Outstanding quality and really flattering on the body!" In addition, there's a range of vibrant colours to choose from, which is a great mood booster.

This CRZ yoga sports bra has been specifically designed with yoga in mind – it's super soft, offers light support and comes with removable padding too. Customers praise its comfort and that it washes well, plus it's very good value for money.

The only negative was that the removable pads can slip around a bit and it's best to go for a size up from your usual.

Pros

  • Medium support
  • Wide range of colours and designs
  • Breathable, smooth fabric

Cons

  • Small fitting, recommend sizing up

Best yoga blocks for beginners

EXERZ Yoga Blocks 2pcsAmazon/EXERZ
Price: $13.99

Slip-resistant yoga blocks are used to support balanced poses. The foam blocks can be used in a studio or at home and are odour-resistant, so they can be an essential part of your yoga kit for a long time.

A customer comments: "Just the right size, weight and density. Quality is also extremely good."

Pros

  • Amazon's Choice recommended product
  • Available in a range of colours
  • Slip-resistant on a range of surfaces

Cons

  • You'll need to seek professional guidance on how to use blocks as part of your yoga routine

Best yoga strap for beginners

Clever Yoga Strap for StretchingAmazon
Price: $11.49

A yoga strap can be used to help you complete stretches and poses that might not be quite achievable yet.

It's versatile and can be used for basic warming up stretches, as one customer comments: "It makes you more flexible and can be used for any sport that you play."

A customer comments: "Use it to improve years of accumulated bad posture and align the shoulders. And use it for all manor of physio and maintenance stretches."

Pros

  • Use for gentle stretching for rehabilitation
  • Strong and good quality yoga strap
  • Available in two colours

Cons

  • Use appropriately and take care not to over-stretch

Best yoga ball for beginners

Core Balance Gym BallCore Balance
Price: £15.99 (was £24.99)

www.corebalancefitness.co.uk

A yoga ball helps to strengthen your core muscles and improve posture. This Core Balance Gym Ball has anti-slip lines for extra grip. It can be used for multiple types of exercise. Customers praise the great quality of this exercise ball. While some have used it during pregnancy, others have used it for workouts and rehabilitation after surgery.

One customer comments: "[I'm] doing bridges on it after a shoulder injury gave me some deformity and its like cloud 9 when I'm floating with my back on it and arms open to the side. Very useful tool and great fun too."

Do take time to follow the size guide and choose a ball that's right for your height. One customer comments that they ended up buying a ball that was the next size up and this was better for them.

Pros

  • Available in a range of colours and sizes
  • Use it for a range of posture-improving exercises
  • Strengthen your core muscles

Cons

  • Remember to follow the sizing chart and pick a ball size that's relative to your height

Best yoga socks

adidas Yoga SocksAmazon/adidas

These yoga socks allow you to maintain a firm grip, reducing wobbles during floor poses. In addition, they keep your feet warm, providing a protective layer between your soles and the floor. A customer comments: "I belong to a chair yoga group for disabled people. The floor of our room is always very cold which puts me off practising barefoot. These little slippers are very comfortable with a good grip on the base of the foot.

adidas Yoga Socks are comfortable, soft, stretchy and breathable. They're available in sizes S/M (3-5) and M/L (6-8).

Pros

  • Grip keeps you steady
  • Won't slip off during routines
  • Hygienic for group workouts

Cons

  • Some customers comment that they would have preferred them to be a bit thicker

Best yoga DVD for beginners

Yoga for Beginners: Body + Soulamazon/Body Wisdom
Price: $8.99

Maybe a DVD is something you are more likely to use rather than YouTube tutorials. If so, this Yoga for Beginners is a great option to get you started on your yoga journey.

Enjoy learning basic yoga poses in the comfort of your own home. The routines can fit your lifestyle as they vary in duration. There are 8 routines that range from 10 to 60 minutes in length to help you to build strength and increase flexibility.

This Yoga for Beginners DVD is the perfect way to be introduced to Yoga, as you can pause and re-watch the poses and learn at your own speed. A customer says: "This DVD focuses on basic poses, shows and tells you how to transition to them and what it's doing for you. As you progress through flexibility and strength you can sort of choose your next step."

Pros

  • For beginners who want to learn in the comfort of their own home
  • Customers praise the warmth of the instructor
  • Pause and rewatch to learn at your own speed
  • DVD is broken up into targeted sections
  • Provides modified moves if the full pose is not yet possible

Cons

  • Some customers felt it was too much for absolute beginners

Best yoga DVD for breaking a sweat

Jillian Michael - Yoga Meltdown [DVD]Amazon/Jillian Michael
Price: $9.20

If weight loss is what you are after, then Yoga Meltdown includes two complete 30-minute workouts that will help you burn fat. Jillian Michaels, a winning trainer on The Biggest Loser, combines yoga power poses with her dynamic training techniques.

A customer comments that they use this home workout DVD to break up their trips to the gym: "To me it provides an easier workout for days when I feel tired or in between cardio workouts. It is good for stretching and moving for 30 minutes."

Pros

  • Do yoga at home for weight loss
  • Targeted 30-minute workouts
  • More than 1,000 reviews

Cons

  • A challenging workout aimed at burning calories

FAQs: yoga for beginners at home

What is yoga?

Yoga is a range of movements that unite your body, mind and breath. The practice has a long, rich history, originating from ancient India more than 5,000 years ago. The word 'yoga' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'yuj', which means 'to yoke' or 'to unite. It's a blend of physical and mental exercise, and today, there are many different styles of yoga, including Yin Yoga, all of which focus on physical posture, breathing exercises and spiritual contemplation.

The origins of this practice date back more than 5,000 years to India. There's so many different styles of yoga you can try, too, from Yin yoga — if you're looking to improve joint mobility and flexibility — to aerial yoga – which involves traditional yoga poses but with the support of a slinky hammock. It's just about finding the right style for you.

woman practicing yoga, lying in Cobra pose
©Getty Images

Benefits of yoga

• It will keep your mind active, healthy and strong

• Boost your immune system

• Improve flexibility, strength, stamina, mobility, range of motion, and balance which can be a brilliant benefit of yoga for runners

• Prevent conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and auto-immune disorders

• It can help you to get a better night's sleep

• Help heal and help common aches like neck or back pain

• Increase happiness and wellbeing and reduce depression

• Lose weight and change your body shape

• Improve and maintain the health of muscles, joints, and organs

Best type of yoga for beginners

Yin yoga: This slow-paced style of yoga targets your deep connective tissue, ligaments, joints and muscles. Its poses are held for a longer period (this can be up to 10 minutes) to really help stretch and lengthen your muscles. It's great for any pent-up tension.

Hatha yoga: This gentle style of yoga focuses on posture and breathing. You will hold different poses for a longer period while focusing on your breath, giving you the opportunity to become familiar with each pose.

Restorative yoga: As the name suggests, this style of yoga is a very calming practice that aims to help release tension from your body and mind, helping you feel fully restored afterwards. It requires you to hold poses for even longer than the conventional yoga class with the support of props, such as a yoga block.

Vinyasa yoga: This style of yoga is more active but still gentle and is where you flow from one yoga pose to another using breath. It's very fluid and is a great stress reliever or mood booster.

Yoga poses for beginners

As you're a beginner, you won't want any moves that are too difficult. Here's three that Chatty recommends for the yogi beginner:

1. The rag doll

woman practising the rag doll yoga pose
©Getty Images

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, take a nice deep bend in the knees, catch hold of opposite elbows, and gently sway side to side. Relax the neck, the jaw and the forehead. This will slowly stretch out the hamstrings, lower back and neck. Make sure the knees are bent though, as you'll get much more benefit.

2. The tree

woman performing the tree yoga pose
©Getty Images

Standing on your left leg, bring the sole of the right foot to your inner left ankle, calf or thigh. Push the foot into the leg, the leg into the foot and feel a solid connection. You can have your hands in prayer at your chest or reach your hands high to the sky. Hold it for 10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

3. The warrior

woman performing the warrior yoga pose
©Getty Images

Stand with your feet one leg apart — front foot faces forwards, back foot slightly turned in. The front arm actively reaches forward, and the back arm actively back. Make sure your shoulders are above your hips, not forwards of them (you're not surfing). Engage your feet, your legs, your core, and your shoulder blades, reach long with your fingertips, and relax your face. The more points we have to focus on our bodies, the less we have to focus on our minds.

How often should you do yoga?

Unlike the gym, where rest days are important, you can do yoga as often as you like. "With so many different styles, from slow, restorative yoga to power flow to absolute stillness, you can pick different things for different days and different times," says Chatty.

Yoga for beginners on YouTube

While there's plenty of yoga books you can buy to help you master the practice, there's also some great YouTube instructors who you can follow along at home.

1. Yoga with Adriene

With over 11 million subscribers, there's no denying the population loves a little yoga with Adriene. The YouTube sensation became hugely popular during the lockdowns and has a range of yoga videos for just about everything. Whether you're after a morning routine, bedtime, or something long or short, you can be sure Adriene has a video for it.

2. Yoga with Kassandra

Kassandra has a brilliant bank of videos, from Yin Yoga to Vinyasa Yoga. Some of her videos are as short as five minutes, whereas others range to 15 and even 90!

3. Psychetruth

If you're keen to follow a range of classes, then Psychetruth have a great section of videos, one for each day, dedicated just to beginners. They also have yoga videos dedicated to pain relief, weight loss and muscle toning too.

Stephanie Spencer is the Deputy Digital Editor at Yours. Having worked across a variety of topics, from travel and food to pharmaceuticals, she also has a particular interest in mental health and wellness having studied biosciences at University.

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