Resources for Yoga Newbies

I remember trying a yoga class for the first time. I was totally embarrassed and I had no idea what the heck was going on. But when I got out of class I was HOOKED! I was so relaxed and happy. I had to keep at it. I think this is a big thing for most people who are curious, but not so sure about yoga. It’s always scary to try something new. I have a friend who would run on the treadmill while reading yoga journal, until one day she finally decided to try a class. And she loves it!

Below I address some of the common concerns I hear from people who are interested in yoga, with tips for getting beyond these concerns. I’ve also assembled a comprehensive resource guide has tons of DVDs, books and other resources to get you over the newbie hump…


“They use a dead language — Sanskrit!” Most teachers use a blend of the English terms and Sanskrit, but it’s good to get familiar with some of the words. A good way to do this is to check out a DVD (see recommendations below) and hear some of the terms. If you search the web you’ll also find many sites with yoga glossaries and even some audio pronunciation guides.

“It’s a totally different system of movement.” Checking out the books and DVDs in my resource guide can help familiarize you with what to expect. Try a few in your living room, but don’t rely on videos alone — it’s crucial to learn from a qualified teacher. Sometimes when it feels like you’ve got the pose, in reality you can be way off. It’s safer to have yoga teacher there when you are learning.

“There are a lot of different styles! Which is right for me?” Just as there are lots of types of people, there are lots of types of yoga. Each teacher and style will be different. Try them before you make up your mind — not everything is right for you. I’ve listed a bunch of DVD options below, organized by themes and styles. Look for what appeals to you and give it a try!

“I’m worried about being embarrassed.” Yoga was traditionally taught one-on-one, so consider trying a private teacher. They can help you figure out what style might be good for you and give you amazing insight on alignment. Even if you have been practicing for a while, one-on-one yoga can help you deepen your practice.

If you don’t want to hire a private teacher, try a beginner’s or intro to yoga series at a local studio. Most studios offer deals for new students so you can try it out, see if it’s right for you, and see what you might want to explore further.  One other tip: Be consistent. Once you have picked a teacher and a class that feels right to you, stick with it. The teacher will be able to help you grow in your practice, and things don’t change overnight so enjoy the process.

“Where are the studios?” A great resource for finding classes near you is the MINDBODY yoga app for iPhone and iPod Touch. The limit is that it only pulls up studios that are using MINDBODY’s product for managing their schedule (it’s pretty common nowadays). Also try  YogaFinder.com for workshops, retreats, studios, teachers etc.


If You’re Just Starting:Yoga Journal’s Complete Beginner’s Guide with Pose Encyclopedia (DVD) If You Want a Workout:Yoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning (DVD) If you Want Cross-Training:Athlete’s Guide to Yoga by Sage Rountree (DVD) If You Want Yoga for Women:
Yoga Conditioning for Women (DVD)
If You Want Vinyasa Yoga:Shiva Rea: Yogini
Vinyasa Flow for Women (DVD)
If You Want Power Yoga:Baron Baptiste Journey into Power: Power Vinyasa Yoga, Level 1 (DVD) If you Want Ashtanga Yoga:Yoga w/ Richard Freeman: Ashtanga Primary Series (DVD) If You Want Hatha Yoga:
Yoga for Beginners w/ Patricia Walden (DVD)
If You Want Anusara Yoga:Connecting with Your Essence w/ John Friend (DVD) If You Want Inyengar Yoga:Iyengar Yoga w/ Gabriella (DVD) If you Want Relaxation:Relax Into Greatness: Yoga Nidra with Rod Stryker (Audio)


A full view of the yogic path & processes:Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Muktibodhananda Yoga for women, by women:
Nawa Yogini Tantra by Swami Muktananda
The ultimate pose guide:Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar My personal yoga dictionary:Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati A great cross-training reference:
The Athlete’s Pocket Guide to Yoga by Sage Rountree


Clothing. It goes without saying — I love Athleta for yoga clothing and accessories. Clothes designed for performance and comfort will allow you to make the most of your practice.
Block. I do love a yoga block — infinitely useful. I prefer cork. The foam is super light, the wood is very heavy, the cork is just right — firm and mid weight!
Strap. Use cotton or hemp canvas- I also like to go to class with a scarf in case I need one , some times your mat strap can double as a strap as well
Towel. If you really get into Bikram, hot or power yoga, its imperative you have a towel. I love the yogi toes skidless towel, but a beach towel works if you are not flowing.
Mat. If you practice a moderate amount: Manduka PROlite® Mat. Much easier to carry around still super sticky and lasts. It never wears out so you don’t have to buy another!
Pro Mat. If you practice ALL THE TIME or have KNEE/ JOINT ISSUES use the Manduka Black Mat® PRO. The density of this mat is much more comfortable on sensitive joints and it holds up to anything. You can practice forEVER without wearing out this mat. Im OBSESSED with this mat. You do need to wash it to get it sticky.
Eco Mat. The Jade Encore Yoga Mat is crazy sustainable (contains pre and/or post-consumer waste rubber) and still functional.
Travel Mat. If you travel, use the Manduka eKO SuperLite® Travel Mat — it’s insanely light and it holds up in heat. Most travel mats I have used have gotten destroyed and warped after my trip. This one lasts. Since it so light it is very thin. Don’t expect a lot of padding, but it’s super sticky.

One final thought: I want to strongly encourage all yoga students (beginner or not) to look beyond just the physical aspects of yoga. It is an amazing system of transformation for your body, mind and spirit. Keep a receptive mind and heart; be willing to experience the practice in its fullness. Even if it’s just out of respect, take a moment to understand the roots of the practice and where it comes from, even if you chose to practice in a different way. You can only benefit from it.


Om peace

check out this post on Athleta Chi!

photos by Bret Linford Photography


  • elizabethhoward002 December 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Useful info. Fortunate me I discovered your web site accidentally, and I am stunned why this twist of fate didn’t came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

    • Hannah Franco December 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm

      Im so happy you found it useful! i remember being totally at a loss when i started its so good to be able to share some of my foundation with others! let me know if you have any more requests- i love to share:)

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