The benefits of yoga are countless – too many to list in one place. Whether you’re looking to improve your posture and or increase flexibility, or just need to stretch it all out, yoga is an advantageous practice you’ll want in your life. Here’s how you can get started on your yoga journey.

Buy yourself a mat.
Any mat will do really. No need to invest in one of those super expensive, $100 mats – not in the beginning at least. It’s like buying a new pair of running sneakers – a basic pair gets the job done, until you advance and need more. An average mat that is comfortable and most importantly, gets you practicing, is prefect.

Do your homework.
Read about yoga and the philosophy behind it. Know why you’re doing it so you can really benefit from your practice. There’s a ton of material out there from articles to books and DVDs. Do your research and discover if yoga is right for you.

Be patient.
Don’t try to kick into a headstand on your first day. Understand that it’s not about achieving the pose – it’s the journey and how much you learn from it that matters most. So even if it takes you a decade to balance on your head, be okay with it. Practice, prepare your body and know that the poses will come to you when you’re ready for it.

Don’t compare yourself to others.
There’s a fine line between inspiration and comparison. Inspiration pushes you forward. Comparison pulls you backward. This is one of the key tips to maintaining a positive mindset and strong practice. Don’t compare yourself with the person on the mat next to you – it will only frustrate you. Instead, learn to celebrate others and cheer for them even if they can hold crow pose longer than you. Compare yourself to the person you were yesterday. Compare today’s backbend with yesterday’s. Celebrate your own progress or notice a weakness that you need to work on.

Spend some time on YouTube searching for increasingly fun and cool ways for you to embrace your yoga. And if you’re lucky enough to have a variety of classes at your local gym, try them all out. Yoga comes in many levels, shapes, and forms. It’s up to you to find the practice that suits your mind, body and soul best. Once you learn what’s best for you, you’ll start to slowly develop your own unique practice.

Take it easy.
It’s definitely okay to get overly excited when trying something new. But it’s not okay to hurt yourself. If you find it difficult to breathe, take it down a notch. If that stretch is too intense for your hamstrings, don’t go too far. Learn to listen to your body and don’t overdo it.

Yoga should act as an escape. Don’t make it feel like an obligation. Don’t make it feel like a burden. If you don’t feel like getting upside down today stick to an easy standing sequence instead or even do some gentle stretches lying down in Savasana. The important thing is that you get on your mat, breathe and do whatever makes you feel alive.

We often hesitate to try new things but the reality of yoga is that it really is for everyone. You can practice wherever and whenever you want, as often and for as long as you’d like. No deadlines, no competitions, no expectations – just you and your breath.