As a beginner it’s challenging to take “all levels” classes simply because you don’t know how to do the poses, let alone how to modify to make them more accessible. The names of the poses are foreign and everyone in the room seems to know what they’re doing, so we understand the frustration. Having a home practice is a great way to prep yourself for those mixed level classes and knowing how to modify the yoga classes for beginners will have you feeling more comfortable and at-ease. Apply these simple tips to your practice the next time you do a vinyasa class, online or in person. After all, sometimes you want to step it up and try something a little more vigorous and challenging than slow flow class.
1. Props Are Your New Best Friend
Blocks, bolsters and straps make any pose accessible, you just have to get creative and let go of your ego. There’s no shame in using props. In fact, they help so much we wish everyone would use them. If your hamstrings are tight always have two blocks handy to put under your hands in forward folds, standing splits, pyramid, side angle pose or any pose that requires leg flexibility. Yoga is not about going as deep as possible all the time. The blocks bring the floor closer to you, so be patient and kind to your body by making these types of poses a little easier. Straps help you work on the shoulder mobility that’s required for binding postures, and bolsters are a nice way to release the low back in reclined poses such as savasana.
2. Leave Your Ego At the Door
Do not compare yourself to anyone, ever. Yoga is a very personal practice and comparing yourself to anyone will increase your chances of a self inflicted injury and likely cause you to feel frustrated. Allow your body to open up slowly, don’t force or jam yourself deeper into any posture and be okay with where you are right now. Yoga has never been about the end result, and it doesn’t make you more spiritual if you can do a handstand or the splits. The practice of yoga is all about the journey and what we learn along the way if we commit to being consistent. Breathe deeply, practice drishti (focal point) and avoid looking around at what other poses look like. Be grateful for your body and treat it gently with kindness and love.
3. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
As a beginner we suggest moving slower, even if the teacher is cueing a faster pace. The slower you breathe the better and your movements should match your breath. When you move slower you move with more intention and awareness. You’re not just throwing your body around, you’re being mindful as you move in and out of poses. Take your time, breathe as deeply as possible and don’t worry if you’re the slowest in the class. Keep focusing on your breath and be precise with your movements to get the most of the vinyasa yoga classes for beginners.
4. Don’t Judge and Cut the Negative Talk
We don’t pay attention to it too often, but the negative self talk is raging. We constantly tell ourselves that we’re not good enough. We compare, judge and unconsciously tell ourselves some pretty terrible things. Try to be more aware of how you talk to yourself during a class and try your hardest to eliminate any negative or judgmental thoughts. We’ve all heard that our thoughts create reality, but we forget it often. Thoughts, just like actions, carry energy and they’re extremely powerful. As soon as you catch yourself thinking thoughts that don’t serve you, try to replace it with a loving thought. For example, you’re trying an arm balance, and you think to yourself, “I’m never gonna be able to do this. I’m too weak.” Replace that thought with, “I can’t do this yet, but I’m getting stronger every day and one day I’ll be able to do it.” Having this shift in your thought process enables a growth mindset that will also translate to other areas of your life.
5. If You Can’t Do It Yet, Stay Where You Are
There’s nothing wrong with skipping poses completely or staying where you are in a certain variation. Mixed level classes will give you several options do deeper versions of the poses, but you can modify these yoga classes for beginners by simply staying where you are. All variations begin with the simplest form of the pose and then we “stack it” with other variations such a bind or arm balance. Beginners can just stay with the simplest form of the pose. There’s no need to go deeper. Your ego will tell you to try it, even though it’s not time yet. Your ego will also tell you, “see? I told you you were too weak/old to do it” when you fail.
Remember that all yoga classes are customizable. Any class can be modified to suit your level as long as you exercise patience and keep your ego in check. Go slow, take your time, stay focused on your breath and enjoy the journey every step of the way.