How To Start A Yoga Practice Without Feeling Either Inept Or Overly Annoyed


I’ve found that yoga is the best possible thing for this 60+ year old body. And soul, for that matter.

I know this isn’t true for everyone. I believe those who say they have tried yoga and don’t like it, because I’ve tried running, and it’s similarly not for me. But I’ve also heard from others who have given it a shot and find it confusing. So this is for the beginners. A couple of approaches to laying a teeny introductory foundation.

Which, in retrospect, would have been useful when I was starting out.

I’ve included:

  1. A list of 7 basic poses, links to the associated Yoga Journal posts for an expert description.
  2. Two wholly amateur short videos of yours truly doing the 7 poses, complete with commentary. I speak into a yoga mat only once.
  3. A link to a recommended 50-minute video Yoga for Beginners session.
  4. Suggestions for simple clothing and mats.

Once you’ve prepared yourself with one or several of these introductions, next steps should be easier. Introverts can subscribe to a good online yoga service and practice at home. Extroverts can find a studio and a class they like. (BTW, finding the right studio is important. Make sure they offer beginning classes. And then take 2-3 of these from different teachers until you find yours. It’s really not one size fits all with yoga and teachers.)

7 Yoga Poses To Get You Started (And To Keep Reviewing, I’ve Learned A Lot By Following These Links Just This Week;))

  1. Cat Cow and Tabletop
  2. Child’s Pose
  3. Down Dog
  4. Warrior One
  5. Warrior Two
  6. Triangle
  7. Tadasana

These are by no means all you might be asked to do in your first class, but I hope that with this foundation the teacher can talk you through any other poses or variations.

The 7 Basic Poses As Shown In 2 Short Videos By A 60-Year Woman Of Cheerful But Irritable And Impatient Disposition

Me, doing and talking about the 7 poses. I am not perfect, not even always very good, but I thought these might help anyone who would be comforted or encouraged by my total amateur practice and surprising lack of shame. The rest of you are more than welcome to stay for the amusement. I’ll pause for popcorn acquisition.

First, 3 minutes on the floor. Note: parts of my body will leave the frame. See impatient disposition.

Yoga Floor Moves from LPC on Vimeo.

And 4.5 minutes of standing poses. You will notice that I was a dope and stood in front of a small table desk so you can’t really see my hips but hey, just as well, since you should really look at the Yoga Journal links to see this done right.

You will also  that this video is blurry. I have no idea why.

If you’d like to take a step past watching my routine, Adrienne’s online classes have been recommended. This one below is specifically targeted at beginners.

Yoga Class By Someone Who Knows What They Are Doing

Yoga For Beginners – The Basics

 Yoga Clothes For All Of Us That We Can Also Wear To Visit Our Mothers And To The Grocery Store

And finally, if you’ve decided you’re game to start practicing regularly, you should get yourself a mat. Studios rent them, but I find those are usually too thin or too slippery. I’ve had one Manduka and one from Gaiam, I’ve liked them both.

You’re also going to want comfortable clothes. I like the Athleta brand myself. Simple. I wear capris for the most part, but occasionally bootleg if it’s cold or I have to go somewhere afterwards and I feel capris might be too casual. Covering my ankles in black technical fabric counts as formality. Go figure. Note: High waisted pants with a very wide waistband are key.

I don’t need much bust support, so for tops I wear either:

  1. A long cotton tank with light-weight sports bra. Make sure the tank is long enough and stretchy enough to stay on your hips when you bend down.
  2. Two athletic tanks on top of each other.
  3. A yoga tank with built in bra. Here, I stay away from complicated. Each additional strap or cutout just offers one more opportunity to put your head into an armhole.
  4. Athleta brand for modesty
  5. Sandals as often as possible. You have to take your shoes off to go into the studio, might as well Athleta brand.

And there you have it, my friends, multiple aids to starting a yoga practice. Prose, photos, a short class, and me not minding making of a fool of myself because I am so happy to share. Also, these videos pointed out areas for my own improvement, so thank you!

Namaste. Which, means, approximately, as I understand it, welcome, and I honor you as part of the divine.

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29 Comments

  • I had a generation of yoga mats that started to get hard and needed to be replaced, I pretty much do my thing in my basement with my Blu-ray player so I went for a round yoga mat.. It’s bulky and not suitable for crowded studios, but good for my home “studio.”

    06/27/17
    9:26 am
    Lisa said...

    @Roseag, Interesting! I could see how that would be a good home setup.

  • Great video Lisa. And very helpful. it’s always good to hear your voice which sounds exactly like I thought it would. I enjoyed Adrienne’s video as well.

    06/27/17
    9:27 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan D., Thank you! And glad to be helpful. You know, it reassures me to hear I sound as you expected, since it means I have made progress toward unifying my blog voice and my IRL voice – a goal.

  • Fun with yoga. Only you can do it both informatively and entertainingly.

    06/27/17
    9:28 am
    Lisa said...

    @MaryAnne, High praise;) Thank you.

  • The divine in me bows to the divine in you. . . xo

    06/27/17
    10:08 am
    Sue Burpee said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, Just want to second the fact that you are both divine:)

    06/27/17
    10:10 am
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, Sue, Namaste my divine friends:).

    06/28/17
    7:35 am
    Frances/Materfamilias said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, Smiling, divinely. . . xoxoxo

  • Just to show you can do it even more cheaply ! I learnt yoga from a book as a 1970s student , it’s probably out of print now . I just wore loose clothing – there were no special clothes then – and bare feet on any carpeted floor or sometimes on my prayer rug after prayers (I’m Muslim) . In our current house that means 2 possible rooms or the landing . I still have the book and it is still very good – excellent instructions & illustrations for the poses – and no I haven’t hurt myself practising alone .

    06/27/17
    10:11 am
    Lisa said...

    @Rukshana Afia, I am impressed with your ability to learn this from a book. It is hard for me to translate the prose into actionable behaviors. Somehow I have to be doing and hearing at the same time to really get it.

  • Thank you! you look fantastic and you’re a great explainer…!
    And thanks for the series of videos, even though I go to class once a week, I sometimes like to practice alone at my breezy backyard.
    Lovely.

    06/27/17
    10:16 am
    Lisa said...

    @Dalit Fresco, Thank you! And I hadn’t thought about doing yoga in my backyard but I bet it’s wonderful.

  • Okay…I’m one of those who purports to hate yoga. I’ve tried it several times and failed. But Lisa you are inspiring me to try again. Partly because I should be able to NOT hate yoga. The fact that I do seems to indicate some failure on my part. So here I go…another over 60 woman… also irritable, impatient, and struggling to be cheerful. :)

    06/27/17
    10:18 am
    Lisa said...

    @Sue Burpee, It’s not a failure on your part! Maybe it just doesn’t suit your body! I can’t run, my calves are prone to muscle buildup and it HURTS. I hate biking, the seats are uncomfortable and I don’t like bending forward and putting my head up. So we are all built differently!

    But, if my post jumps you over initial irritation, could be good. Great for balance, flexibility, etc. If it doesn’t, your body is just saying Hey Lady Not For Me;).

  • Thank you for doing this Lisa.

    I was able to watch your standing pose video (yes, you’re a warrior, brave and generous) but I can only get audio on the first one.
    ???
    I often assume it’s my awkward relationship to technology that’s to blame, but wanted to let you know in case it isn’t just me.

    06/27/17
    10:19 am
    Lisa said...

    @Cat, You are very welcome.

    I can see the video on my machine – I wonder if that first file is too big, too high of resolution to download for you? So sorry! Anyone else with the same issue?

  • Loved your videos, particularly your superimposed comments (which are too self-critical but nevertheless amusing).. I occasionally do a yoga session when it’s offered as part of something else that I’m attending, but I usually feel like my time would be better spent either doing “real” exercise or meditating. Maybe I’ll have to give it another shot.

    06/27/17
    10:21 am
    Lisa said...

    @MJ, Thank you. And what’s life without an affection but self-deprecating inner voice shared with friends? Also, yoga to me is mediation and light exercise, so I see it more as two in one than none at all. People who get good at it can take flow classes, which can be quite cardiointensive.

  • I LOVE YOGA! I’m 71 years old, and I started in earnest only 14 months ago. I just love it. It loves me. Love is definitely involved.

    I lucked out and found a wonderful yoga teacher just a couple of years younger than me. She’s been teaching for 35 years. So knowledgeable, patient, and kind. And bloody tough.

    I’m learning to stay on my own mat. Even learning not to compete with myself. Now, that’s a hard one. Still, the improvements in my flexibility, strength, balance, and (gee, what shall I call it … I’ll try this …) my ability to STFU when nobody really needs or wants my commentary or “leadership” are phenomenal.

    Apparently, it’s not done much for my modesty.

    Anyway, thank you for these vids and resources. I’ll watch ’em later and see what you’re experiencing with yoga.

    Love yoga.

    https://cdn.pastemagazine.com/www/articles/snl%20molly%20shannon.jpg

    06/27/17
    11:25 am
    Lisa said...

    @Ann, Sounds like you and yoga are a perfect fit. I still need a leeeeetle or maybe a lot more work on the not bubbling over with my feelings and opinions. I am sure all of what I show here you are familiar with, but maybe some of it will do for you what it did for me, i.e. set some new goals around alignment etc. xoxo.

    06/28/17
    5:15 pm
    Cheekie said...

    I love your comment

  • Thank you, Lisa! I’ve been afraid of yoga in recent years, because I have osteoporosis, but apart from the “cat” part of Cat Cow, I think these poses are safe for me. I loved hearing your voice! I guess I just love YOU.

    06/28/17
    6:40 pm
    Andrea said...

    @Linda,

    Hi Linda!
    Certified yoga teacher here responding to your comment about avoiding yoga because of osteoporosis and I just wanted to say that there is a lot of evidence (including proper scientific studies with DEXA scans) that yoga is not only safe but can help quite a bit with osteoporosis, largely because it is a weight-bearing exercise. The key is practicing safely, so if you’re interested, I would suggest you seek out a yoga class labeled “gentle” or “beginner” and talk to the instructor before class starts. This is true for all health conditions and/or physical limitations. Trust me: every competent yoga teacher will be delighted to give you modifications or alternate poses to work with your specific needs. Don’t feel embarrassed or think you’re inconveniencing us. We modify poses all the time and most of us are delighted to have students ask because we know how much yoga can help with physical issues and we want to make it accessible to everyone who is interested. If you don’t feel like the first instructor is a good fit, try another. There are also books about using yoga for osteoporosis, but if you’re brand-new to the practice, it would be better to have a trained instructor guiding you and giving you tips and real-time feedback until you feel more confident. Good luck!

    06/28/17
    8:09 pm
    Linda said...

    @Linda, Thank you, Andrea! I will seek out a teacher who can work with me.

  • This is great advice! I am a yoga practitioner, began maybe ten years ago – I am 76, so you can see I started late. It is now an integral part of my life. I practice in a class 2-3 times per week. I also loved your description of yourself as being of cheerful but irritable and impatient disposition. Describes me!

    06/30/17
    10:20 am
    Lisa said...

    @MarcyLuna, Maybe we could start a Happy But Occasionally Cranky club! And, thank you for sharing you story. I hope anyone reading realizes that no matter their age, if they are inclined to start it up, they can. I bow to you.

  • I like using the iPad app Yoga Studio because it has “classes” from 4min to 60min. That time range makes me feel like it is possible to do it everyday, and anywhere, even if I feel too busy.

    The teacher in Yoga Studio looks like a character in a video game — almost human but not quite. Maybe she is a real human. I appreciate not knowing and want to keep the story that a humanoid game character is my yoga teacher.

    I like any exercise that makes my aging body feel good and yoga always does that. Here’s to aging strong!

    06/30/17
    10:21 am
    Lisa said...

    @Leanne, Aging strong! Good to know there is an app for those so inclined. Thanks!

  • Thanks, Lisa. I’ve strayed from my mat lately, but always seem to wander back. I started at 50 yo. I tend to be stiff and sore, so the stretching of yoga helps. The calm quality has gotten me through some tough stuff. At one point, 4 years ago, my mantra was “I’m going to be OK”. and I was.

    06/30/17
    10:22 am
    Lisa said...

    @Stacy, This feels very wise. “At one point, 4 years ago, my mantra was “I’m going to be OK”. and I was.”

  • What a terrific post Lisa! You have such a lovely instructing voice :-)

    06/30/17
    10:24 am
    Lisa said...

    @K-Line, Thank you! I’d love to take a class from you some day:).

  • I love Yoga and it has so many health benefits…
    you look like you are having fun too which is another perk of the practise.
    Namaste.

    06/30/17
    10:25 am
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, Namaste.

    And I do have fun, sometimes, if not always. xox

  • Great post! Yoga changed my life. It has helped me to remain flexible and focused into my sixties and I am
    so grateful,also yogis are a great bunch of people.
    Love them to bits.

    Love

    Lizer Pearl

    06/30/17
    10:29 am
    Lisa said...

    @Lizer Pearl, Thank you! And congratulations for finding your way to something that is clearly so good for you!

  • I am also over 60 and returned to yoga after several years absence. My work schedule is such right now that it’s hard to get to classes. In the beginning of the year I signed up to Grokker (and I considered Gaia as well) which offers online classes in yoga and lots more. The yoga classes cover different types of yoga and vary in difficulty and length of time. I’ve found doing the classes online to be a good way to get back into my practice. I’ve found them particularly useful because I can pause the session and play a section again, or just pause it while I work it out slowly. Doing online yoga has helped me learn how to hold balances–something I could rarely do in a live class. I can also face plant in the privacy of my own home. The monthly subscription is very reasonable. The online companies I looked at offered a free trial period, which I found useful. Once my schedule eases up I plan on attending some live classes, but for now, this really works for me.

    06/30/17
    10:40 am
    Lisa said...

    @Nancy, I know others who swear by online classes. Thank you for the recommendations, and LOL to faceplants in privacy! I bet that replay function really does help for the variations of flow, etc.

  • Thank you for sharing about your practice, Lisa. I’ve returned to yoga myself this year and the small amount that I do at home is paying dividends.

    SSG xxx

    06/30/17
    10:40 am
    Lisa said...

    @S, Wonderful.

  • Thank you Lisa for this inspiring and useful post
    It arrived just in time when I start to contemplate yoga (for apsolute beginners :-))-so,it was something I’ve needed
    I’ve found a place and a teacher-so,hope that in autumn, I’ll give it a try
    I’ll investigate your post and video thoroughly again and again
    Namaste
    <3
    Dottoressa

    07/04/17
    11:45 am
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, Ah, I hope you can find a gentle and restorative and strengthening practice. All my best wishes.

  • Lisa, Thanks for all of your tips and suggestions and reminding me to get back into yoga!
    In the past…I’ve enjoyed the free website “doyogawithme.com! Ok, I’m off to reacquaint myself with it, lol!

    07/04/17
    11:45 am
    Lisa said...

    @Renee, Thank you! All these suggestions are awesome! I talked to my sister, she uses Yoga Anytime online, it’s also recommended.

  • I am back at practising yoga with a beautiful teacher (recommended by a friend who went on a retreat with her in Ubud this year ) in a church hall with ladies my mothers’ age who can gracefully extend their legs over their heads, laying on their backs and though we are worlds apart as women for that hour we commune.
    Namaste

    07/04/17
    11:47 am
    Lisa said...

    @Cheekie,” and though we are worlds apart as women for that hour we commune.”

    Namaste. <3

  • I’m 63 and consider yoga the Fountain of Youth. It’s kept me strong and flexible, mentally and physically. It’s increased my equanimity. No matter how I feel when I start my practice, I always float out of it.

    07/04/17
    11:48 am
    Lisa said...

    @Redolence, Floating is such a good word to use. There’s a freedom that comes from opening that which was closed.

  • Thanks for this – what comes across to me is the great kindness and sensitivity you show in answering some of the concerns new practitioners might have about how to get started with yoga.

    ceci

    07/04/17
    11:49 am
    Lisa said...

    @ceci, You are welcome, and thank you. I feel kindness towards my readers, you all are so thoughtful and lovely. Except when I post about politics, ha!, so, I don’t do that any more;).

  • LIsa, I finally had time to watch your vids and enjoyed them so. You are paying very good attention to what goes on in those poses. Because we try to stay on our own mats in class, I don’t know much about what others are experiencing, so it is interesting to hear your experience. For instance, I appreciate the “beauty of line” POV you shared.

    Thank you for doing these vids. I’m with you and others who find yoga to be immensely beneficial. It’s a bit of a mystery to me how the benefits appear, so gradually and then suddenly.

    07/04/17
    11:59 am
    Lisa said...

    @Ann, I am so glad you enjoyed them. I think the good attention is the voice of my good teachers, so I hope others can find someone with such insight. And staying on our own mats – devoutly to be wished. xoxo.

  • I love yoga too, and if you can, it is a great 60+ exercise. Sadly, I can’t practice standard yoga anymore. I used to think only lack of determination could keep me from it, and I was determined. However, I have discovered that arthritic bone spurs mean that many yoga poses create lasting pain. There are other medical issues as well in my case. However, if you can do it, great!

    07/04/17
    12:02 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Lynn Teague, I am sorry. Some things really contraindicate yoga – bone spurs would not work. I hope you are finding other practices that soothe and strengthen.

  • Aaaaah, I love my yoga! Started my practice in January and totally hooked! Try to take a class every day, hatha/yin/vinyasa/whatever is available. It has gotten me through a difficult time of life, both mentally and physically. My neglected 54 yr old body has loosened up, and the change is actually visible. It was quite a breakthrough last week when I for the first time since childhood could reach the mat on the forward bend! I’m lucky having a wonderful studio in the neighbourhood.
    I’m actually going on a yoga retreat in Santorini later in July, you should try coming to Europe for a retreat Lisa!
    Love your post. Love your videos with comments, and your tips on clothing.
    Have a wonderful day, namasté!

    07/04/17
    12:07 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Anne from Oslo, Wow I’d love to do a class every day. Unfortunately I have to drive to my studio. I think about riding a bike, but the only roads are major arteries and I hate the thought of the exhaust and the worry. I have even looked at the train schedule to see if that would work!

    I would love to go to a yoga retreat some day. I hope I will. And thank you for the kind words. Namaste!

  • Before getting pregnant I was a huge yoga fan (only managed to get to one or maybe two classes a week but loved it). Suddenly it felt wrong to be moving and stretching (even though I know pre-natal yoga classes exist). I will def. go back when the time is right…

  • A random comment on the collapsing lower back: I was visiting a friend who is a physical therapist. He wanted to test out a new toy on me that is designed to isolate and strengthen the core. He told me to straighten my back; I did. He told me to straighten my back; I said it was. He pressed on my stomach until I felt like my back was arched up like a cat, and said “straight!” Only one of us was right, and it wasn’t me.

    Apparently my calibration was off. Not unlikely that yours may be as well. Video seems like an excellent approach for keeping an eye on it. Proprioception is a tricky, drifting sensor (well, set of sensors…).

    And I second the need to find a good teacher. I stumbled into an Iyengar studio before I knew what that was, and I found that it is an excellent style for learning the foundations of yoga.