I get a lot of questions on yoga and how to start practising over on my Instagram, I wrote a blog post last year about why I think everyone should try yoga, but I thought it would be a good idea to write a blog post giving advice on how to start from absolute scratch.

Go to a Beginners’ Class or Retreat

I started practising as a complete newbie by going to a weekend retreat that was designed purely for beginners, and it was so helpful because everyone was in the same boat, and the yoga teacher (my amazing friend Roo Frith) explained everything to us in a way that complete beginners could understand. If you can’t find/afford a retreat, then there are bound to be yoga classes aimed specifically at beginners near you, and if not then there are definitely going to be classes that you can go along to if you’re a beginner it’s just best to let the teacher know you’re a beginner. If you live in London, have a look at Frame, Triyoga and Studio One, as they have dedicated options for beginners. Just have a search on Google and see what you find.

Practising at Home

I would personally recommend starting to go to a class, and then practice at home alongside that, purely because you cannot beat face to face yoga with a teacher who knows how to correct your form and take you through everything step by step. However, this might not be feasible for some people. Luckily there are so many ways you can practice at home. As a newbie, I would suggest using videos, you can get beginner DVDs but I honestly think the way forward is YouTube, as it’s free and there are SO MANY VIDEOS. I recommend Yoga with Adriene, Celest Pereira and Cat Meffan, as they do some lovely videos and I am big fans of their teaching methods. You can get guides and e-books, but because with yoga it’s so important to have correct posture, and have someone talking you through when to breath in and breath out, I would say that I’d hold off on getting any until you’ve got the basics understood.

What To Expect from a Class

This depends on the type of yoga, and there are sooooo many different types out there, but here in the UK and in the Western world we tend to practice Vinyasa Flow (this is stereotyping a bit but I’d say it’s the most popular type at the moment), Vinyasa Flow is using poses (or asanas in Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language that we use a lot in yoga), with the breath, so you do one pose as you breathe in, and move into the next post as you breathe out, you continue to do this throughout the session as you move from one pose to the next using your breathe (it will sound less complicated when you go to a class!). You will usually go through a few sun salutations (a sequence of poses where we salute the sun, sounds a bit hippy dippy but you’ll grow to think of these are your yoga pillars) and then depending on the teacher you will move through the poses they have selected. You’ve probably seen on Instagram some crazy and cool poses that people post, well I would probably expect not to touch on some of those for a while. I am nowhere near most of those poses, and will probably stay far away from them for a while. A lot of the time people go into yoga expecting to learn now to do a headstand or different arm balances or how to nail the splits, but that’s not what yoga is about, if you’re looking for that then you’re getting off trying gymnastics or something similar.

So What Is Yoga About?  

Good question, and not an easy question to ask, as the answer is probably going to be different for everyone who practices. For me, yoga is about learning to accept yourself. Yes you get on your mat and you work your way through poses, but the self-discipline and self-love you learn through practising, is so crazy and mind blowing, that you take it off the mat, and I am pretty certain that you will improve mentally just as much as you will physically. Don’t get me wrong, some people just go to yoga for the physical aspect and that’s more than coolios, because you will gain strength and flexibility, but the mental progression is the most important. In short, I feel like a completely different and BETTER person, since practising yoga, and I hope you’ll feel the same too! One major thing I have learnt through yoga is to love my body, love what it can do, and to not look at any limitations as actual limitations. For someone with an injury that means I can’t do quite a lot of things, it’s really helpful in more ways than one.

What Will You Need?

If you’re going to a class, check that they provide mats, which most do, and just rock up in your gym stuff, leggings and a top are fine, and you might want to take a jumper for savasana (the part where you lie down and play dead at the end) in case you get cold. I’ve read online a lot where it says wear loose fitting clothing, but take that with a pinch of salt, as I always wear leggings and a sports bra (a low impact one as you want to be comfy, and I have no boobs), but you can really wear anything sports wear-y, you’re going to be doing a lot of fluid movement and stretching so yeah, wear stretchy clothing that you feel comfortable in and will be able to move in.

If you’re going to be practising at home, you will need a mat, 100%, and a yoga mat at that, sorry but the £5 one you got from Argos isn’t going to cut it. I recommend this Yogamatters mat for beginners, and then here are two more mats, the Lululemon one and the Liforme (basically the ultimate mat ever) one. Once you’ve practised a bit and have decided, ‘yup, I like this weird thing called yoga, I want to carry on practising’ you might want to get some blocks and a strap, to help with some poses that you find harder to get into, I got mine from Yogamatters.

Some Little Yogi Tips

Here are some things I’m glad I was told/wish I’d been told as I started practising yoga:

  • You will probably feel like you’re shit at it, but that’s fine, you’re not shit. Yoga is challenging for everyone, even people who have practised for ten years, it’s challenging, because you set your own rules, you do the modification that suits you, at your level, on that day, at that time.
  • You might cry, a lot. I cry all the time in yoga, the first time it happened was weird, but get used to it, accept it, and it will help a lot. You also might not cry ever! But I have found I do all the time ahahaha.
  • How much you like a class will depend on the teacher. If you don’t like a teacher, go and try a different one. I’ve tried a lot of classes where I’m not a fan of the teacher, but it’s those teachers you completely gel with that make it so much more amazing.
  • There will probably be a lot of words said by the teacher that you don’t understand, these are mostly in Sanskrit, you’ll learn what they mean the more you do.
  • Getting the breathing right is super important, it takes time, but when you get it you’re just like OH MY GOD THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER I GET IT NOW.
  • Fanny farts, and normal farts, are completely normal, especially when you’ve been upside down, just get it out, try to do it quietly, but I doubt anyone will notice, and if they do, blame your neighbour (jokes, just pretend it didn’t happen)

I hope you enjoyed this post, it is bursting with info so if you need to come back to it a few times, no worries!

I also have some other yoga themed blog posts below if you’d like to check them out:

Why Everyone Needs to Try Yoga

Favourite Yogis on Instagram

My Favourite Yoga Accessories 

You may have seen from my social media channels that last week I went on a yoga retreat to Ibiza with Good Yoga Life. I can without a doubt say that it was one of the best experiences of my life! Kelly (total babe and founder of Good Yoga Life) along with her amazing team are also hosting two more retreats in Ibiza in May, so I though it would be a fab idea to write a blog post on this retreat in case anyone is unsure of whether to book onto the next one (I’m hoping that after you’ve read this you will be 100% on board and will be going to book your place ASAP!)

The Villas

There were 25 of us in total I think including the GYL crew and all of us, and we were spread out of over two incredible villas near San Miguel in Ibiza. The villas were spacious, huge and the views were some of the most amazing views I have ever seen in my entire life, it was breathtaking. I still can’t quite believe I got to stay there! Think large rooms, light and simple décor and infinity pools looking out over the horizon.

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The Yoga

There were three yoga teachers on the retreat, Kelly (@goodyogalifeuk), Suzie (@life.in.full.colour) and Emily (@emily_and_yoga). We got taught by all of them, who are all awesome by the way, and the classes ranged from restorative classes, to a meditation class, to workshops and there was even a bootcamp yoga class (think HIIT meets vinyasa flow). I enjoyed all the classes, there were about two a day, sometimes three including the workshops, and although my muscles ended up being veeerrry sore by the end, it was amazing to feel so strong and I could tell I’d improved by the end. If you have practiced vinyasa flow in London I would say that the classes were pretty similar to that, they weren’t too serious or spiritual, but there was enough spirituality in them at the same time, it’s hard to explain but I hope that makes sense! Enough for a beginner not to feel totally out of their depth, but with enough for someone who is learning more and more about yoga to gain more of an insight into different areas of the practice.

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The Food

The food was probably one of the best things about the retreat, it was all arranged for us so we didn’t need to think about anything. Suzie made all of the meals and everything was vegetarian and more often than not, vegan. There were so many options, for example at breakfast you could have some overnight oats, buckwheat granola with coconut yoghurt, or have some eggs with a selection of breads, tomatoes and avocado. 

On the first day for lunch after we’d all been picked up from the airport, we were taken to Sa Vida in Ibiza Town, where we were served what felt like a ten course veggie meal, the food was healthy, plentiful and delicious. Dinners and lunches were varied and yummy, and the girls were so good with anyone who had any special dietary requirements, one of the girls was pretty restricted and they were more than happy to make her separate things, which is always really nice and reassuring! The food was probably one of my favourite parts of the retreat as I myself am trying to cut out meat, and going on a retreat for four days where all the meals are veggie was so great and I have come away feeling refreshed!

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Free Time

We had quite a lot of free time to lounge by the pool, play some games and get to know each other. On the Sunday we all went to the beach and spent a few hours there just sunbathing and swimming in the sea, which was still pretty warm considering it was the end of October!

On the Monday a group of us took a hike down to an excluded cove which was about a 30 minute hike from the villa. It was one of the most beautiful and peaceful things I’ve done, and swimming in that sea was the highlight of my trip! On the Tuesday most of our flights were late in the evening so the majority of us were dropped into Ibiza town to have some lunch, wander around and some of us even got tattoos (if you want to get one done in Ibiza check out Inkadelic, Neil is a great artist and a really cool guy and fit 4 of us in when we just rocked up unannounced!

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The People

The people made the trip, everyone was so great! Some people came with a friend or two and some came by themselves. By the end of the four days we all felt like a little family and I am definitely going to keep in contact with some of them and really hope I get to meet up with a lot of them again, I might even try and plan a little reunion! 

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Kelly and co will be back in Ibiza in May for two more retreats, check out the web page here, I think there are still some spaces left if you want to book! http://goodyogalife.com/2016/10/15/ibiza-may-2017/ . If you want to try out one of the Good Yoga Life classes there are loads going on, and you may even see me there! I would 100% recommend going on this retreat, I had the best time, and I feel like my yoga practice has improved a hell of a lot!

Within the last year yoga has become one of my favourite practices, I absolutely love it, and implore everyone to give it a shot! Whilst one of the reasons I love yoga is that you really don’t need anything to practice, you don’t even require a mat (obviously it’s better with a mat depending on what floor you’re about to practice on…), there are still some equipment and accessories that really help. Here are the ones I would advise investing in:

Mats

Having a decent mat to practice on is imperative. There is honestly nothing worse than practicing on a shitty mat. I have tried my fair share of mats and some have been awful (little bits flaking off… slippery as hell… the list goes on) but I am sharing my two that I think are worth buying.

1. The Economical Choice – Yogamatters Sticky Yoga Mat

These mats are really good, and very inexpeyogamatters-sticky-yoga-mat-mastic-group_2 (1)nsive (they’re £17), so if you have been trying yoga for a while and want to upgrade to a good yoga mat, I would recommend this one. A lot of yoga studios use these mats for their classes, because they’re cheap but they are really good. No bits come away, even after a lot of uses, they don’t damage and they’re pretty non slip.

They also will last. I bought my mum one for Christmas one a half years ago and she has used it probably 2-3 times a week since then and it’s still in excellent condition, they’re a good investment at such a low price! They’re also available in a wide array of colours, so no matter what colour you want, you can get a mat in it!

2. The Splurge Choice – Lululemon Reversible 3mm Mat

This yoga mat was recommendedLU9A75S_012173_C to me by a friend who practices regularly, I was complaining that I kept slipping on my regular mat (my hands can get a bit clammy sometimes… please don’t judge!), and that I was looking for a better one. I tried her’s out when I next saw her and knew it was exactly what I was looking for!

It is pretty expensive as yoga mats go, although there are definitely more expensive ones out there! It’s also fairly heavy due to the material, but it’s very non slip and the grip is amazing. I’ve recommended it to a lot of friends!

 

 

 

Blocks

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Yoga blocks aren’t essential for yoga practice, but they certainly can help. For beginners they’re really helpful if you don’t have enough flexibility to get into certain postures, even cross-legged pose! And for more advanced yogis they can help with more complicated poses and can even make certain balances even more challenging (when you get to that level!).

I love using blocks to help deepen stretches but also to help support certain areas of the body, for example I have been working on my splits and blocks really help me.

You can buy blocks from anywhere, and they are pretty standard and inexpensive no matter where you buy from! There are varying shapes and sizes too.

 

Straps

Like blocks, straps aren’t necessary, butIMG_0612 they are extremely useful with increasing flexibility, and just as with blocks, they can be used by both newbie yogies and experienced practicers. Straps can be used to help with seated poses, binds, balances, shoulder flexibility and many other poses!

Again you can find them pretty cheaply and they are very durable, I use them fairly regularly and love them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recommend…

For Christmas this year my family got me the Yogamatters Big Yoga Kit, which is a kit where you get a mat, two block, a mat bag and a strap all together for a cheaper price. I honestly think it’s the ultimate starter pack and would definitely recommend it to people who are committed to starting yoga. They also do other yoga kits with other items included.

Obviously these are only a few things that I myself have tried out, but I definitely recommend them!

Hi friends!

In honour of international yoga day yesterday, and in honour of the fact that I am trying so freaking hard to integrate more and more yoga into my everyday life (yay me), I decided to share with you my favourite yogis that I follow on IG.

@jessicaolie

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I am having a total girl crush phase when it comes to Jessica Olie (and I think my friend Sabi/@dancetraveleat on IG is feeling the same). Mainly because Jessica has been practicing for only two years or so (I think?) and has gone from being inflexible, so being a total yogi badass. Not only this but her two Lets Start Yoga guides (both of which I have now bought) are amazing, and really freaking helpful for people like me, as they not only demonstrate certain poses, but also give you flow ideas! Not only does she post incredible looking pics such as the one above, but she also shares her progress photos, such as her split progress. I think that’s one of the things that makes her so relatable is the fact that she was once where I am now, and it’s really encouraging when you consider yourself a beginner.

@the_southern_yogi

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This brings me onto Morgan, a good friend of Jessica’s (they often post double yogi videos and photos and they are basically yoga bestie goals). Morgan is just a bundle of flexible joy and looking through her profile always makes me super happy. It reminds me that yoga is a positive practice and that although I may not be as flexible as her, it is all a journey and a lifestyle, which is essentially one of the main features of yoga (the mental benefits, not just the physical). Morgan also has her own ebook called Ab’Asanas, designed to help you strengthen your core through yoga, which is so important for yoga as a practice. I am yet to invest but it’s on my list! Morgan also does a lot of acroyoga and it is amazing! I can’t wait for the day that I am strong enough to start practicing with an even stronger partner.

@catmeffan

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Cat is a very recent yoga crush of mine, but yesterday I was lucky enough to attend a class taught by her on a roof top in west London (in know… living that yogi life) and it was such a great class! Not only is she a fab teacher, she is also a pretty great gal, I got to chat with her for a bit after the class and she was so freaking lovely! Her page is light and bright and full of epic photos that make me want to pursue yoga even more, I know it’s not all about the fancy poses but I always think that being able to move and control your body and make such incredible shapes with it is what draws me to yoga, and Cat’s page really exemplifies this.

@elle_fit

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Elle is another awesome yogi that I’ve been following since I started my instagram account last year. Not only does she seem like a really sweet gal (via her IG, I’ve not met her, but I think my perception counts right?), but she also shares not only amazing photos such as the one above, but also progress photos of her own journey, which again, is super motivating and inspiring. She also has her own guides, called the Elle Fit Active guides, all of which I have, and they are all about learning specific poses, there’s a stretch, splits and inversions guide. On top of this, she also shares progress of girls who use her guides, another big tick for me! Plus she lives in Australia and I like to pretend I may one day also live near a beach in Australia and be as tanned as Elle is haha!

@yoga_girl

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Yoga Girl aka Rachel Brathan is like the OG of inspirational yogis on IG. Her story is amazing, she is such an incredible person and her yoga posts are not only gorgeous but they’re inspiring. Her book Yoga Girl is a great read (really trying not to use the world inspirational right now and it’s quite hard!). She is so real, she posts about her ups and downs, along with penny the goat, her pet goat (so cute!). I would also highly recommend watching her TED talk on her experience with social media, which you can watch here.

@tashmusings

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Tash is deffo going to kill me for this one! She’s a really close friend of mine (not sure she had a choice in the friendship haha) and she was one of the reasons I really got inspired to really start practicing yoga regularly. She is currently training to become a yoga instructor and I can’t wait for the day she qualifies! Her account is so pretty, and she doesn’t just post difficult and impossible looking poses, she’s a fan of the simple poses, and she always gives little tips on how to get the most out of them. It’s awesome that she’s sharing her knowledge with her followers and she is also great inspo for setting goals every week, as she started the hasgtag #setmyintentions that I know a lot of girls use now.

These are just a few of my faves, trust me there are soooo many more! Who are your favourite yogis to follow on IG?

 

 

Last Thursday myself and a group of friends went to a Yoga Supper Club held by Kelly (aka @goodyogalifeuk) and her awesome team. We got there, and by there I mean this ridiculously amazing open-plan loft flat where the yoga class and supper were held.

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We started off by getting settled on our mats and Kelly led a great yoga class that focused not only on strength and stretching, but also got our hearts racing a bit as we were able to practice our handstands (or lack of), I love yoga classes where the teacher throws in some fun and different elements, and Kelly did not disappoint. We also did some partner exercises, such as a partnered navasana (boat post) which was a really good laugh and meant that we got stretched a bit more than usual as you had a partner to help you really lengthen into the stretches.

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After the yoga class, we got off our mats and moved to the table where we were served a ridiculously delicious three course, vegan and wheat-free meal prepared by Mama Says Eat. For our starter we had a seaweed broth infused with shiitake, our main was supper vegetable carpaccio with spicy sesame and miso noodles and for dessert tiers of the most incredible peanut butter cookies where brought around to our tables and we were encouraged to take a handful (I feel like I proudly paved the way in taking three from the get go and then getting two more later on, no shame here!). Also on offer was prosecco, white or red wine, or for those of us who chose not to drink (me for example, I know party pooper), we were offered some sparkling grape and green tea infused water which was pretty amazing to be honest!

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The entire evening was so fun and Kelly is definitely one of my new favourite teachers, she has a very chilled out and relaxed approach to teaching, whilst also wanting you to have fun and get the most out of the class in a productive way.

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I would wholeheartedly recommend going to a Yoga Supper Club if you get the opportunity, whether you treat yourself and just go by yourself, with a group of friends, with your mum, or even with your partner, it is such a good experience and I can’t wait to go to another one! They’re £40 from Funzing, this includes the class, the three course meal, a pretty awesome goodie bag with some treats inside and also of course an all around lovely experience! Thank you Kelly and co!

For more info check out Kelly’s website www.goodyogalife.com or the Yoga Supper Club on Facebook here!

Also my friend Sabi posted a review recently, check it out here, happy reading!

*All photos are either mine or the property of Yoga Supper Club