or, So You Wanna Do A Yoga




Hi! First of all, I’m really excited that you are interested in doing yoga! I think everybody can benefit from yoga, and that everybody should try it.

Your mileage may vary, but my personal experience is that yoga has made me a stronger, nicer person. It’s great for building core strength and balance. And also patience and contentment.


The word yoga means “to yoke,” or to connect, bind, unify. It is the practice of connecting breath to movement, mind to body, self to universal awareness.

There is no avoiding the fact that yoga is also most definitely an ancient Hindu spiritual practice. What we practice in the west is a secularized form of yoga asana by way of 1920s Swedish gymnastics. I don’t know if you need to worry too much about appropriation, but it is important to recognize the roots of the practice.


I don’t know why they’re called limbs. The tree metaphor never really resonated with me. There are eight “steps” to yoga:

  1. YAMA: Ethics like truthfulness and non-harming

  2. NIYAMA: Disciplines like cleanliness, self-study, and dedication

  3. ASANA: Posture. This is the part that we mostly think of as “yoga”. Originally this practice only exists to prepare your body for long periods of seated meditation.

  4. PRANAYAMA: Breath work and energy work.

  5. PRATYAHARA: Withdrawal of the senses from external stimuli

  6. DHARANA: Concentrating on a single object

  7. DHYANA: Meditation, absorption.

  8. SAMADHI: Becoming one with universal awareness. Pure consciousness. The end goal of yogic meditation is “All Things” as opposed to the end goal of Buddhist meditation which is “No Thing.”

Western yoga today is mostly just asana with maybe a little bit of pranayama.

I share this with you just to give you an idea of the true scope and breadth of yoga so that you start to understand that it can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Breathing is yoga. Cultivating energy is yoga. Being honest and peaceful is yoga. Meditating is yoga.


Anything that grounds you to the present moment is yoga. Anything that connects you to your mind and to your body is yoga.


So you wanna do some yoga asana.

That’s great!

A very common place to start is doing a couple classes at home with “Yoga With Adriene,” arguably the most popular free yoga youtube channel there is.



Yoga is this funny thing where people come together as a group to be alone on their mats.

That is to say that you should not worry about looking like you don’t know what you’re doing, or doing the wrong thing. Everybody is going to be concentrating so hard on their own stuff that nobody will notice what you’re doing.

Choosing a studio is a very personal choice. Every studio has its own vibe and culture, ranging from Super Spiritual to Group Fitness.

Here are some tips for spotting a good teacher:


  1. Vinyasa: 90% of yoga classes out there. It features flowing movements synced to your breath. Hatha and Ashtanga yoga are basically vinyasa.

  2. Iyengar: Longer holds, focused on precise alignment. Lots of props.

  3. Bikrim: set sequence at high temperatures. “Hot yoga” is similar but does not necessarily follow the same script.

  4. Kundalini: Okay there’s a snake coiled up at the base of your spine and you want to awaken it and allow it to journey up through all your chakras through asana and energetic pranayama and kriya like elbowing yourself in the ribs over and over.

  5. Yin: Taoist yoga. Very long holds with lots of props. Focused on soft tissue release. Superficially similar to restorative.

  6. Restorative: Lay around and relax

  7. Nidra: Actual sleepy time yoga. You can expect to drift off during class as the instructor guides you through a meditation designed to help you sleep.