Reader’s Request: Getting Started with Yoga

Hey guys! How’s your day going?? It’s been a while since I’ve done a reader’s request, and thought this was a good one:


I lurve me some yoga….


so does Bella


but this wasn’t always the case.

Even when I first started the blog, I described myself as “more of a Pilates girl than a yoga girl” because I hadn’t discovered studio yoga or the type of yoga that’s best for me.

Turns out, I like it hot, sweaty and fast 😉


When you practice yoga, you’ll find one teacher who will change your practice and help you fall in love with it. For me, it was Laura at the Yoga Room in Oklahoma City. (If you’re ever in town, PLEASE take her class…and then email me to tell me how amazing it was)

She created such an amazing space and it was everything I could ever want from a yoga class. SO different than the gym yoga classes I was used to.

yoga room

She also taught me how to do crow 🙂

yoga (6)

You’ll also find a teacher who will change your practice and help you fall in love with yoga when you’re just getting started- I promise 🙂

Please keep in mind that I am NOT a yoga teacher (I tried to teach once at the base gym and it was a giant #fail), just a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. I have just evolved in my practice and fallen more in love with yoga within the past two years. *Note: Always check with a doc before making any fitness/nutrition changes.

Here are some of my tips for getting started with a yoga practice:

1. Don’t go too crazy too fast. Once of my biggest yoga snafus was feeling like I had to do it everyday to reap the benefits- so not the case! When you’re first starting out, like with any new exercise addition, start with once a week and see how it goes.

2. Go to a yoga studio instead of taking it at a gym, unless you’ve heard amazing things about a particular instructor. 99% of gym yoga classes I’ve taken, I’ve not wanted to go back. It’s cold, the lights are bright, and I leave without the usual studio yoga euphoria. Do some research to see where people like to practice in your area- usually they’ll offer new student discounts (like 40 days for 40 dollars, or 4 classes for $20, etc).

3. Explore different types. If you try a certain style of yoga and aren’t a fan, try a different instructor or different type. Usually on the class schedule, it will explain the types of yoga that are offered- hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, Bikram, etc. My personal favorites are the Baron Baptiste style of power yoga- the room is heated and you move quickly from one pose to the next. It’s a very aerobic style of yoga and I’m a sweaty beast at the end 😉 My second fave is Bikram- the room is HOT (around 100-105 degrees) with 30% humidity and you practice 26 poses (almost all of them are done twice on each side).

4. I’d recommend starting with a live class before going the podcast or video route. In a live class, the instructor will know that you’re new to yoga and will help you with proper form and alignment. Do some research on poses before you go, just to have a general idea of what you’ll be doing. Some of the ones I recommend are: Warrior 1, 2 and 3, downward dog, plank, chaturanga, upward facing dog, chair, triangle and crescent lunge.

5. After you’ve done a few live classes and want to practice at home, here are some of my favorite yoga DVDs and podcasts:


-Dave Farmar (Int/Adv)- podcast

-Yoga to the People (Int/Adv)-podcast (Beg/Int/Adv)- podcasts; they also have PDF pose guides for each podcast so you can have an idea of what to do before you practice. The 20 minute podcasts are FREE and are a great starting point.

-Philip Urso (Int/Advanced)-podcast

-Shiva Rea Daily Energy (DVD); she’s a little nutty, but I love her. Great for beg/int

-Eoin Finn- The Pursuit of Happy Hips (DVD)- We play this DVD at lulu and I love it. Beg/Int/Adv; excellent DVD and I really recommend this one for super active peeps who need some hip stretching

-Tara Stile’s yoga flows on Women’s Health online – they have pictures for each of the poses and I’ve tried a few. Love them 🙂

Any DVDs, podcasts or tips you’d like to add? How did you get into practicing yoga?

Well I’m off to a bootcamp workout with Meghann and then to Dance Trance!

See ya laterrrrr <3



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  1. Holly @ couchpotatoathlete on October 19, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Gina this is great — the most yoga I have ever done is a Denise Austin yoga/pilates combo workout…But I would love to get into it. For me, I am most interested in the mind/body connection it is supposed to strengthen (or so I’ve read).

    I will have to look into classes in my area!

  2. Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle on October 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I started at a studio and am SO glad I did…after my studio closed, I tried taking a class at my gym…what a DIFFERENCE. I have tried a few different ones at a gym and I will never do it again. You are right, it just isn’t the same.

  3. Holly on October 19, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Hot yoga studio!!! I tried the gym yoga and I didn’t care for it. My friend introduced me to hot yoga (even though I was hesitant) and now I am a hot yoga junkie!!!

    I also recommend after trying the classes at the studio, you should sign up for any workshops your studio may offer (for example, arm balances, inversions, etc.) I learn so much at those workshops that only better my practice! Love it!

    • Holly on October 19, 2010 at 6:25 pm

      P.s. Menchie’s Orlando is the deal of the day today! Check it out!

      • Fitnessista on October 19, 2010 at 8:57 pm


  4. erin on October 19, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Yayyyyy for yoga! Hopefully we can practice together again soon, both side by side and with me in my teacher crops haha 😉
    Miss you! xo

  5. Jessica @ How Sweet It Is on October 19, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    These are awesome tips! I definitely need more of a power yoga class where I am moving. Otherwise my mind starts to wander too much.

  6. Katie on October 19, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    I love yoga, also! I’ve found the best way for me to continue my love for yoga and not get burned out, is to practice once a week (and incorporate strength training and spinning the rest of the week). I do either Bikram or Shiva Rae DVD. I actually got started 4 years ago when I began the P90X program. I loved the Yoga X DVD, but I ended up doing P90X for over a year, repeating the 3 month workout, and got burned out. That’s when I found Bikram!

  7. Katheryn on October 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Tara Stile’s also has video podcasts you can download from itunes. Great for beginners and and the more advanced.

  8. Allie on October 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Awesome tips! I’ve been wondering about this…I’m really interested in hot yoga…is vinyasa or hatha better for a beginner? I’ve done P90x Yoga and I love it, but I’m still unsure which of these two to try first…

  9. SaraRM on October 19, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I recently moved to OKC and have been wanting to try yoga but just havent done it yet. Definitely will have to try this out now!! Very exciting!

  10. Leanne @ Simplicitlee on October 19, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    I’m trying out a new yoga studio tonight & I’m so excited! I think the biggest lesson you have to learn in yoga is to leave your ego at the door. It’s imperative that you realize you don’t have to be in competition with anyone!

    I’ve done very little yoga in my life but the last studio I went to wasn’t a pleasent experience… I hope to strike gold tonight 😀

    Have you tried Jillian Michaels Yoga dvd?

  11. Moni'sMeals on October 19, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Great post Gina. I think why Yoga is so great is it is something you can’t just pick up and do every pose like a pro first try. You can’t just pop into handstands(unless you are maybe a gymnist that is!)and it is so much more than the pose itself. It is so much more. Staying present, breathing, working on flexiblity. It is such a beautful practice. That is what it is to me…practice and I need to do more of it. 😉
    Really great tips for your readers.

  12. Kim on October 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you for this post – I wasn’t crazy about the classes at my gym, but knew I wanted to get better at yoga. I will look into a studio!


  13. Jessica @ Jessica Balances on October 19, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    I recently fell in love with yoga and agree that it’s SO MUCH better at a studio than at a gym! I also like it hot, sweaty and fast – there is just nothing like it. Hot yoga is officially my new favorite workout. 🙂 My boyfriend wanted to see what in the world I was talking about, so he went with me last night and actually loved it! He was drenched in sweat by the end but said he felt cleansed and wants to take another class with me this weekend – success!

    Your blog is honestly one of the reasons I decided to give hot yoga another try (I tried it at a not-so-awesome studio and decided it wasn’t for me). I have now found a studio I am IN LOVE with! Thank you for inspiring me to try it again… my life has seriously been changed. <3

    • Fitnessista on October 19, 2010 at 9:01 pm

      that is so awesome 🙂

  14. Allison @ Food for Healing on October 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Ahh yoga, i was on a kick for awhile,but just ran out of time. between working full time and school, hopefully one day i can start up again. I think i should win the lottery!

  15. Ashley on October 19, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I am wondering what you would say about yoga as a main exercise for weight loss? I have done vinyasa classes in the class that were pretty tough (5 each of sun salutations A and B before going into the rest of the class). Is there a better routine that would help me with those goals? Also, do you ever make a room hotter in anyway to facilitate your practice? Thanks for this post!

    • Ashley on October 19, 2010 at 5:44 pm

      I should mention too that I am a med student so I feel like this is something that would fit in my schedule better than hitting the gym and I need the relaxation ASAP!! 🙂

    • Fitnessista on October 19, 2010 at 9:00 pm

      i’ve used a space heater at home before to make the room hotter
      yoga is amazing, but i think it should be combined with strength and cardio training

  16. CathyK on October 19, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I sooo agree with your tips, Gina! I totally fell in love with Ashtanga yoga thanks solely to my amazing instructor. Life changing, physically and mentally. Due to lifestyle scheduling changes, I haven’t done yoga in three years now, except on my own, and I sooo miss it. Yoga can be whatever you want it to be: soulful, invigorating, challenging, relaxing….just keep trying classes til you find the right fit for YOU!

  17. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine on October 19, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Awesome info!! I’m contemplating to a “yoga challenge” over winter break to see if I can get into it (I love the stretch but always get so bored). Sounds like a studio is the way to go!!

  18. Heather (Heather's Dish) on October 19, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    i’m definitely more of a yoga flow kinda gal…but i love it! the hardest part for me was being OK with not being “good” at it yet. once i let myself just do my thing it was so much better!

  19. Laughter-Loving Stacy on October 19, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Fantastic! Now, could you please recommend some good Pilates dvds? I need help, for sure! 🙂


    • Fitnessista on October 19, 2010 at 8:56 pm

      winsor pilates are my fave- mari is a little old school and funny, but the videos are amazing

  20. Sassy Molassy on October 19, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Gina, these are some great tips even for an experienced yogi! I love love love Dave Farmar podcasts (although they’re a bit long for me) and yogadownload. Sometimes, I also just enjoy rocking out to my own calming yoga tunes while I do some sun salutations and balancing postures. But that’s definitely a route for those who have taken several classes.

    Also, wondering if you have any suggestions for beginnerish zumba/dance dvds? We don’t have zumba here and I’d love to try it.

    • Fitnessista on October 19, 2010 at 8:56 pm

      youtube has amazing zumba videos! free, too 🙂

  21. Alison (Ali on the Run) on October 19, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Thank you so much for this post, Gina! I tried ONE yoga class at my gym and despised it. I didn’t like the teacher, I was bored, and I was confused because I didn’t know any of the terminology and kept having to readjust myself to see the teacher. Now I sort of want to check out a TRUE yoga studio to get the full effect. I’d love to get into it to balance out all of my running. Thanks for the encouragement!

  22. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on October 19, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Great tips Gina!! Even though I don’t practice yoga as often as I’d like to, I definitely agree on tip #2 – yoga studios just have such a great atmosphere and I’ve never been in a gym that has been able to match it. I think one of my goals for the next month is going to be to get to hot yoga more often because I find it definitely helps me to be more mindful and ‘in the moment’. I might also download some of these podcasts because they sound great and I trust your reviews! 😀

  23. Krystina (Organically Me) on October 19, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I wish I could do crow. It’s one of the only poses I can’t do and it frustrates me! My favorite type of yoga is hatha though, I don’t think I could handle hot yoga.

  24. Lauren on October 19, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    I never loved or appreciated yoga until I became a runner. I think yoga is a must for athletes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject!

  25. Suzi on October 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Tara Stiles is my yoga idol! Someone else mentioned she has videos on youtube (tarastilesyoga) and itunes (Tara Stiles Living) but she also has a DVD out called “Yoga Anyhwere” and a new book called “Slim, Calm, Sexy” that I haven’t read yet but I’ve heard good things about it.

    YOu can also get more videos from her on the Nissan “Master the Shift” youtube channel or facebook group.

    She totally changed the way I feel about yoga and I am totally a convert from pilates to yoga now too.

    • Fitnessista on October 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm

      good to know! i love her style (stile? baha)

  26. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic on October 19, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Hi Gina, I wrote a post about this too – tips on how to survive (and love) hot yoga Hope it helps!

    • Fitnessista on October 19, 2010 at 8:54 pm

      awesome thanks!

  27. christina cadden on October 19, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Such a great post!

    • Fitnessista on October 19, 2010 at 8:54 pm

      thank you!

  28. Amy on October 19, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I’d also add that if you try hot yoga, give it more than one shot before you decide you hate it! I first tried it about 5 years ago, felt sick to my stomach after class and then didn’t give it another try until earlier this year. I’m so glad that I tried it again though… I LOVE IT!

    • Fitnessista on October 19, 2010 at 10:02 pm

      you’re right- sometimes you need to try it again 🙂

  29. Lily @ Lily's Health Pad on October 19, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    My love for yoga began gradually as well. But once I discovered Jivamukti yoga, I was hooked! The instructor was just kooky enough to make it fun. (He brought his own accordian and played it at the beginning and end of class.) Plus I LOVE it when instructors walk around and help you with form.

  30. katie on October 19, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    i’m so glad you posted about this! i just bought a groupon for atlanta hot yoga and have gone twice now — once to a power yoga class and once to a hot yoga 90 minute class. i am LOVING it! the teacher’s have been so helpful and i can tell that there is a wide variety of ability levels in every class. the teacher recognizes who is new and walks around the room helping everyone. i was so intimidated at first and i’m so glad i went. yoga has been AWESOME for me! i can’t wait to expand my practice and be able to do all the really hard poses 🙂

  31. lindsey on October 19, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I started out going to gym yoga and you’re right, it was cold, bright and impersonal. I took a few sessions at a yoga studio and loved it, but it ended up getting too expensive. I tried yoga again at a new gym that I joined and loved it. They turn off the lights and leave on just one lamp in the corner, turn off the a/c and set the room to 85 degrees or so. I absolutely love the instructor as well. She is really talented and always gives ways that you can amend the position if you aren’t as advanced, or would like it to be easier. I only wish the gym offered it more times per week!

  32. Molly on October 19, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    My mom and I started doing yoga once a week at the YMCA. In the summer when I had free mornings, we would go Monday, Wednesday, and Friday! I liked it, but it is definitely not studio yoga, which I have yet to try. There are no yoga studios in my town, but it would be worth the 30 minute drive to the nearest city I’m sure!

  33. Mi-An Dela Cruz on October 19, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    yay!! loooove me some yoga too!! i started about 10 yrs ago when i used to work at a gym…so ever since then, i’d do yoga everywhere (gym, lululemon stores during the weeeknds, studio, at home etc). usually gym yoga bc it was cheaper and of course at home…my FAVE yoga teacher (from DVD) is GEO!!! he does power yoga. he’s got these awesome big curly hair! wish i could go to his class but he’s all the way in LA. Since i’m taking a yr off before starting residency, I was gonna do teacher certification through Yoga works (the one in BALI!) but it was 4 G’s!! anyway, i sometimes go to a studio bc like you said, IT is D BOMB DiGGity!! I just found this yoga studio like 4 mins away from me and now doing the 10 day pass, oh man, I DO LOVE the POWER YOGA!!! I have yet to try HOT YOGA…as I’m kinda nervous about it…but I’m gonna do it sometime this week! but yes, i love this post! i love yoga! i think everyone should do it. and i hope to open my own Yoga studio someday! Om Shanti!
    p.s. great tip for using space heater for at home power yoga!

  34. Pure2raw twins on October 19, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Oh how I wish I was taking a class with Laura right now. Seriously the best yoga. I have not found any good yoga here in Raleigh, so I just do my own thing, which only gets me so far. I do a little here and there, but I really want to get back into a routine, just can’t for some reason. One day, soon!

  35. Erin on October 19, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    I am seriously in love with Bethenny Frankel’s dvd. She keeps it real and I love the teacher she works along side with. As a bonus at the end of the dvd she has a mini weight’s session that you can include as part of a workout, skip it, or just do the weights!

  36. Lindsey @ SoundEats on October 19, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    haha only pose I would add would be to brush up on what child’s pose is — I brought a newbie friend to a class recently and was telling her that there was no pressure, if she ever felt uncomfortable, or like she needed a break or something, to just take child’s pose….haha then I proceeded to show her what child’s pose was. 😉

  37. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) on October 19, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Hey girl just delete this comment b/c of the link drop if you don’t want it up. I know how it is, totally! But I spent about 10 hours making this post a year ago

    It covers everything from styles of yoga, clothing, ways to get free classes, dvd and book rec’s, common questions like do you have to be a vegan to do yoga or is yoga a religion, things like that.

    I walked into my first yoga class 11 yrs ago and fell in love. The rest is history. 3 mos later I was in the Amazon Rainforest in Costa Rica getting my 1st yoga teacher certification, 10 yrs later I finished the highest level, my 500 Hour. I have been teaching on and off the past decade. But yoga is more than what’s on the mat…it’s what yoga has given me OFF the mat…the patience to accept others and myself, love for others and myself; the breathing techniques helped me have a natural childbirth, the awareness helped me realize my food allergies were out of control 5 yrs or so ago and I got a handle on those…you name it, yoga has been the center of most of my adult life 🙂

  38. Robyn on October 19, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Hi Gina!

    I’m having a bit of trouble finding Philip Urso’s podcasts. Any advice?


    • Fitnessista on October 20, 2010 at 8:17 am


  39. Barbara on October 20, 2010 at 5:55 am

    do you know of any good videos similar to your dance trance class or another funky high impact aerobic?

    • Fitnessista on October 20, 2010 at 8:16 am

      no i wish i did! it’s unlike anything i’ve ever tried

  40. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on October 20, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Ditto on the yoga classes at gyms! I have not been impressed by the ones I’ve gone to. 😛

    But there’s a hot yoga studio in my town that I’m dying to check out and I’m hoping it will be what I need to get more into yoga!

  41. Amy @ purewellnessamy on October 20, 2010 at 8:40 am

    I attended an Ashtanga workshop with my friend Debra eleven years ago and it was love at first chaturunga! No other exercise makes me feel so good in body, mind, and spirit. I just love it and only wish I could do it more often.

  42. amber@SAHM's musings on October 20, 2010 at 11:28 am

    This by far may be my favorite post! I’ve been wanting to get started AND I live in Oklahoma City! Maybe I’ll have to check out the Yoga Room now! Thanks for the tips! Do you have anymore fitness tips for this Okie?

  43. Clare @ Fitting It All In on October 20, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I had tried yoga once in high school and ended up laughing through the class. Way to much “Ommm” for me. Then in college I did it in a gym class and it was just boring, slow, relaxation yoga in a bright room. No good.

    Finally I got up the courage to try Bikram and fell in love! I know some people don’t like the heat, the fast pace, or the constant instruction, but it works for me! I’ve gotten my mom and some friends into too, and now I try to go twice a week to supplement my running and weight training.

    I’m very interested in trying other forms of yoga at a studio though, but have no clue where to start!

  44. Janetha G - meals & moves on October 20, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Gina, I have never done yoga! This post was great. Thanks for writing it! P.S. can’t wait to meet you in san fran!

    • Fitnessista on October 20, 2010 at 2:30 pm

      can’t wait to meet you, too!!

  45. Lisa Chin, HHC on October 20, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Hi Gina,
    Great post on yoga! I definitely doubly second your recommendation to go to a studio to start out. If you are part of a gym, go to a handful of studio classes and then try every yoga class you can at your gym. There are sometimes really good or decent gym yoga instructors. I also like to use a site called Yoga Today. They feature a free video each week and have hundreds of hour long videos on their site for members. They have slow and fast yoga classes for all levels. If you click this link,, you can get a free 2 week trial and access to all of the site’s videos! I’d love to hear if you’ve tried this site before!

  46. zoe on October 20, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    yoga = my life saver. no joke!

    i found exercise tv to be helpful when i first started but the videos are not my favorite in retrospect. i would definitely recommend the YOGAMAZING podcast with chaz. he’s really upbeat and enthusiastic. his videos range from 20-60 minutes and cover a wide variety of yoga. i love them!

  47. christina on May 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    love love love yoga. i’m getting into tai chi too 😀

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