Guidance for A Beginner

Hi. I am new to this forum and this is my first post. I have been doing yoga almost daily at home (from DVDs) for about 6 months and am looking for a little guidance on moving my yoga practice forward.

As far as my physical health goes, it is pretty good, but not excellent. I am 47 and a few pounds overweight (just in the first catagory of overweight on the bmi chart). The only health issues that I have are osteopenia (for which I am hoping that the yoga will help with), overuse arthritis in my hands and wrists (computer usage), and some general joint inflammation. Other that that, everything else is fine. Also, I have been vegan since 1990 and also do not consume much sugar at all.

For my yoga practice, I have several DVDs that I am using on a daily basis. I am using different a different DVD each day of the week. Most of these are 20 to 30 minute sessions, and each DVD focusses on something a little different, which I like. Since starting, I have progressed quite a bit and I often have those sessions of being able to accomplish something that I have never been able to do before. I still cannot do all of the poses that are in the DVDs that I have (such as Warrior III and Upward Bow), but I am working on those (and enjoy the challenge).

At this point, the 20 to 30 minute sessions are starting to feel like they are too short. I have one hour long DVD that I just started and like it a lot, and have integrated it into my practise on one day during the week. I would like to increase the total time for my daily sessions. So, my question is: does it make sense to simply do two shorter sessions back to back, or would it make more sense to try to find a variety of longer sessions? What brings up this question with back-to-back shorter sessions is that each one goes through the entire process of the warming up, main part of the sessions, stretches, and then relaxation. So, doing two of these entire processes seems quite different than one longer session of this process. However, I am certainly not opposed to doing two shorter sessions if it is reasonable and beneficial.

I don’t feel like I am to the point of putting together my own sessions, and I love the DVDs that I have. If doing two shorter sessions back to back is not optimal, are there some beginner level DVD’s that are good and longer in length (somewhere in the 45 min to 90 min range)? I live in a very rural area and don’t have a yoga teacher (but plan to look into it this fall).

Much Thanks,

Do you have access to a library? Some of them stock the DVDs and you could “shop” a little for one you like before purchasing.

I personally find 90 - 120 minutes is optimal for me. I don’t do yoga every day though. 2-3 times a week only. Alas, my life is too busy for more than that. I do squeeze in sun salutations though.

Hello Adele and welcome to the forum.

You pose a very interesting question about the nature, sequencing, and effects of an asana practice. Thank you for bringing it forth. Hopefully the answer(s) will be equally interesting.

What is relevant as you answer this question for yourself is the intention you have for your practice and thus for your life. What you propose “can” be done (back to back separate practice each lasting 30 minutes). And that may fully serve the purpose you have.

Know however that a well constructed asana class is a symphony for the body. Each part is leading to the next part and each of those parts has a particular effect or set of effects on the student through the five koshas (or sheaths). There is great skill in putting together an asana sequence in a mindful and appropriate way and I’m not referring to something that has lovely choreography or appears enticing to the observer. I’m talking about preparing the body progressively, understanding and employing the subtle energies, and leaving the student with an “ahhhh” that goes beyond “thank goodness I’m done”.

Once the asana practice is concluded and savasana has moved the body into a deep parasympathetic state I would not advise “doing” another practice unless it was a calming practice. And in that case I wold move savasana from the first session to the end of the second. In other words, one deep savasana to end your practice.

But you can try it out and see. If you begin to feel agitated as a result then stop and reconsider your position.

Namaste Adele,

First of all welcome to the forum. I think you have answered in part your own question and that is that two sessions of 20 minutes each will take you through the same sequence of warming up, stretching etc. and that will cause frustration in you in the long run.

The best option would be to look for longer DVDs and they are available. Another option would be to pause the DVD at some of the asanas and perhaps repeat a particular asana a few times more or hold it for a few breaths longer as well. This will certainly increase the time factor, but it has other benefits as well, as my own teacher used to say, “it is not the doing of the asanas that is so important, but the holding.” Gently increase your holding time, breath into the asana a few more times and see where that might lead you.

Another aspect that holding and breathing into your asanas will have is of course the cultivation of greater awareness.

Good luck and I am sure you will find your way.

Alix, InnerAthlete, and Pandara,

Thanks to all three of you for your kind and helpful responses to my question. All of your ideas and thoughts are good and I’ll definitely work with your suggestions.

Alix, I like your idea of checking out DVDs at a local library a lot. The library here is geared toward kids, but it would certainly be worth looking into. And…I can certainly understand about the time constraints in your practise. That seems to be the way that things are for a lot of people.

InnerAthlete, I also appreciate your input on the deeper aspects of one’s practise. Your input on the structure of the practise together with the intent of the practise is very good and I will keep that in mind as I figure out where to go from here. Yoga is such a wonderful practise because it affects one on so many levels. And…that feeling at the end of a good session is quite wonderful, both physically and mentally. The idea of doing only one deep savasana at the end of a longer session makes complete sense.

Pandara, Thanks for your suggestion of holding the asanas longer or repeating them in the sessions that I already have. That is a wonderful idea and I actually would not have thought of that. I have noticed in the DVDs that I do have that holding the asanas longer (some of these as slower than others) does lead to greater awareness, just like you stated, and that can be improved and expanded upon. I’ll be in the market for some longer sessions DVDs too.

Thanks again to all of you.

Namaste Felinity,

It looks like you’ve already received some great advice so I’ll just add a few bits since I’ve been in your shoes.

First, I think its great that you are developing your own practice and sticking with it. I spent years living far away from yoga classes and had to come up with my own sequences, used tapes/DVDs, and best of all, sequences which teachers had taught me in the past.

If you are looking for a DVD with some longer sequences, you may want to try one of Shiva Rea’s vinyasa series - Shiva Shakti is my fave. She has sequences lasting from 40-75 minutes at varying levels.

Secondly, you may want to consider going on a weekend yoga retreat where you can deepen your practice while you receive guidance and asana alignment corrections from a teacher. If a retreat is not possible, maybe just attend a class or two whenever visiting family/friends in a bigger city where a yoga studio is located. In my book, a living, breathing, knowledgeable, and compassionate yoga teacher is important to your practice. Even though it may only be for 1-2 days every now and then (when you live in a rural setting, etc), I found it enriched and energized my home practice.

Finally, I advise to always remain a beginner at heart. Eight years into my own practice, I try to approach it like a beginner every day: humble, grateful, and with an open heart.

Best of luck and I look forward to future discussions with you.


[quote=Kiran;12509]Namaste Felinity,

In my book, a living, breathing, knowledgeable, and compassionate yoga teacher is important to your practice…

Finally, I advise to always remain a beginner at heart. Eight years into my own practice, I try to approach it like a beginner every day: humble, grateful, and with an open heart.



…and so with everything we do


Thanks too for your insight and advice, especially since you have had a similar experience. I appreciate the suggestion of a specific teacher for the DVDs and will look into Shiva Rea’s vinyasa series.

I plan to look into finding a local yoga teacher this fall and agree that it would be greatly beneficial. Sometimes, it is a little difficult to know for sure whether one has correct alignment for asanas when there is no one to help guide you. And…I am sure that there is improvement that could be made.

It is also wonderful to know that you have continued your practice for eight years, and coming from a situation like mine where yoga teachers may not be readily accessible. That speaks to the true benefit of the practice.

I have thought about attending a yoga retreat too, and would like to actively persue that. It seems that it would be pretty incredible to spend a few days completely focussed on yoga without other distractions.

Thank you.


You are so welcome. I hope you can find a teacher who can help you along the way. Who knows, maybe one day you can become that teacher in your area so others can learn and benefit from Yoga.

Please let us know how it goes!



For a yoga beginner, the most important thing is to choose a teacher and a studio you feel comfortable with. Choose a class that fits your schedule and practice at home every day. Make sure to set up a plan for how much time you will spend practicing yoga each week by making time for yourself.

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