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How to start yoga (and actually stick with it)

Want to love yoga but keep faceplanting? The secret to yoga for beginners is to get up and keep going

Julio Bruno
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Julio Bruno
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After several months of Covid-induced house arrest, I genuinely couldn’t wait for my local gym to reopen. The only thing was that, after months spent sitting in front of a screen and eating, I was worried I wouldn’t fit through the doors.

I was intrigued by yoga, even though I’d never been keen on group classes. I guess I was missing seeing people in 3D. The newsletter from my recently reopened gym was encouraging and suggested yoga as a great way to get back in shape after the Zoom slumber. I put all my Covid phobias to one side, and after a quick visit to Lululemon, I was ready to start.

I kept kissing the floor with every attempt, twisting like a badly cooked pretzel

My first class was hot yoga and I had no clue about what to expect. I was at the back of the studio, with five other adventurous souls, feeling a bit silly and out of place. I tried following the poses – asanas – and I kept kissing the floor with every attempt, twisting like a badly cooked pretzel and leaving 60 percent of my body water on the mat. Halfway into the class, I had to step out of the room and lay on the cool floor to catch my breath. It was embarrassing. I left the gym mortified, but with the firm intention of returning and mastering the basics of yoga.

The following day I chose a different class, hatha yoga. A bit of online research suggested it was suitable for beginners, and (crucially) it did not include a hot room. This time there were fewer clown-like stumbles and no pools of sweat around my feet. The teacher talked us through the class, paying special attention to breathing, visualising and meditating. My muscles ached, but I felt happy. Being out of confinement and enjoying the practice with other people made me feel part of something, and it filled me with energy too.

I’ve lost 20 pounds, feel stronger and more limber and have better posture and sleep

I started going to classes six times a week – vinyasa, hatha and hot yoga – improving every day and enjoying this island of personal freedom in my routine. (I practice at Virgin Active Mayfair in London, where yoga lessons are open, catering to all levels. My recommended yogi? Simon Avis.)

I’ve lost 20 pounds in the process, feel stronger and more limber and have better posture and sleep. Now, when somebody mentions a dog, I immediately think about a downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Which, by the way, I can do rather well now, or so I’m told.

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