The idea of starting a yoga practice might send some into a panic attack, defeating the actual purpose of a yoga practice. Yoga is intended to be a relaxing, calming way to release energy and tension from the day, while giving a decent workout to the body. For those who have never hit the yoga mat, its time to learn a few basics to ensure your practice goes off smoothly without a hitch the very first time.
Invest in a good mat
Investing the proper yoga mat will make all the difference in the world. Most yoga teachers will say that yogis can practice anywhere, anytime - and while this is absolutely true, this is not exceptionally great for joint pain. Purchasing an extra thick mat, plus using extra pillows or cushions lying around the house, will prevent joint pain disaster. Your knees and elbows will thank you for caring for them properly.
Resist the urge to keep up
Lets face it, in your very first few classes you will be completely lost. Everyone goes through this - yoga takes time. Time to learn the asanas (poses), pranas (breathing techniques), and the flow of the teacher. Take some extra time to be compassionate towards your body, and do your very best to not keep up with the yogi Guru sitting next to you on his seventh year of his practice. He's invested a lot of time into his practice and certainly did not wake up one morning to become a master of the art. Be kind to your body, stretch only within your limit, and have absolute patience. Yoga is a slow process. Consider the years of torture you have done to your body, whether hunched over a computer screen for work, or as a professional texter. Yoga is not a competition, take your time. The poses will come.
Do some extra homework
Have you made it through the first week of your new yoga practice, only to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of poses? After a few months, you will realize that there really aren't that many, and they are mostly interlinked with eachother, stimulating an easy memory recall once you've mastered one or two of them. Do some extra homework and study the poses online. Better yet, start off with sun salutations to learn the very basics while getting in an excellent stretching exercise any time of the day. The poses in this sequence tend to come up the most frequently.
Keep your shoulders down, and back straight
Most yoga teachers are excellent at reminding their students of these two 'yoga laws.' Keeping your shoulders down away from your ears allows for a full complete stretch, and keeping your back straight will reduce any possible injury to your lower back. Immediately hunching over instead of rotating at the hips with a flat back creates intense lower back compression and is counterproductive to your yoga practice.
Yoga does not have to be rocket science. It is an incredibly enjoyable experience and is meant to allow you to relax and unwind, while receiving all of the amazing benefits of an exercise practice. Keep practicing, be kind to your body, and before you know it, you will become that yogi master in no time.