New to Yoga? Here’s Our Guide for Beginners

Please check out some common FAQ’s below. If you have other questions, concerns, or would like to schedule some time to talk in person, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Send an email to, and we will get back to you asap.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any pre-requisites for taking classes at Sellwood Yoga? Do you offer any yoga for beginners?

There are no pre-requisites for our classes, and you are welcome—and encouraged!—to explore any class you wish. However, we do offer some classes and series that are designed for people who are new to yoga, regardless of their fitness background. For instance, our Beginner’s Yoga series, which we offer frequently, is a great introduction to the fundamentals of the practice and will prepare you to deepen and expand it in a multitude of directions. Yoga Basics, Gentle Yoga, and Restorative Yoga are also good classes to try when you are first starting out.

I can’t make it to a Beginner’s Yoga series. Which classes should I go to?

No worries! If you can’t make it to our Beginner’s Yoga series, we have a lot of ongoing weekly classes that are perfect for beginners. They are also great for intermediate/advanced students who are interested in revisiting the basics or introducing a slower, gentler quality to their practice. The following classes are all good choices: Yoga Basics, Gentle Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Mellow/Restorative Flow/Vinyasa, and Candelight Yoga.

In general, we encourage our students to explore a wide range of classes and find out which ones best suit your needs and interests. Our New Student Starter Pass is a great option for newcomers and will allow you to sample a variety of class styles and instructors.

Do I need to be flexible and/or in good shape to do yoga? What benefits can I expect?

You do not need to be flexible, fit, or any particular way to start practicing yoga. Yoga can certainly help you become more flexible, stronger, and less stressed out, and people report experiencing a variety of benefits after practicing yoga. It supports every system in the body (muscular, skeletal, digestive, nervous…you name it!), and many practitioners notice changes after a single class. You may feel less stressed, more centered, and deeply grounded after a single hour of yoga, and with a long-term, regular practice, the benefits accrue exponentially. The practice builds strength, stability, flexibility, and stamina, and it can prepare you for (or support you in) other active things that you do. Yoga also includes elements of mindfulness and breath awareness that work wonders in terms of relaxation and stress relief. It can provide you with tools to achieve more peace and well-being in every facet of your life.

What happens in a yoga class?

Although it depends on the style (see our class descriptions), many yoga classes start with a slow, breath-centered warm-up series. Then, the instructor may guide you through a number of carefully sequenced standing and balancing asanas (or poses), peaking with one or two that are more challenging. He or she may wind down with a few seated and/or reclined positions, and most classes will close with several minutes of savasana (or relaxation pose). This final posture allows your body to integrate the benefits of the practice and emerge centered, calm, and refreshed.

Is yoga a religious practice?

The roots of yoga are found in ancient Indian philosophy and religion, and for many people, yoga is a deeply spiritual practice that nourishes their bodies, minds, and souls. However, many practitioners approach it from a non-spiritual standpoint, relishing in its practical elements of fitness and mindfulness. There is no “right” approach. At Sellwood Yoga, we are committed to a non-dogmatic environment that is 100% welcoming and affirming. Some classes may contain practices that hearken to the ancient roots of yoga (like chanting or brief readings from foundational texts), but others are totally grounded in contemporary health and wellness theory.

How do I know which class I should take? What’s the difference between all the different types?

There are many styles of yoga, and at Sellwood Yoga, we are proud to offer a wide variety. If you are new to the practice, you may enjoy some of our slower, gentler classes. For example, Gentle Yoga involves holding gentle, nourishing poses for longer periods, and Restorative Yoga involves the use of props and supports. so you can deeply relax into each pose.

If you are interested in a class that moves more fluidly and dynamically, you can explore our vinyasa and alignment-based classes. Vinyasa Flow classes link breath with movement, and may range in intensity from mellower practices to stronger, more vigorous sequences.   

We also offer a number of classes that aren’t specifically rooted in yoga. For example, our MELT classes incorporate a revolutionary hands-off bodywork technique to reduce inflammation and relieve chronic pain. Our Pilates and Barre classes offer a great way to tap into your core and get a good workout. And our Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) is proven to reduce the physical and emotional symptoms of stress.

In general, if you are trying to decide which class to take, we recommend reading our class descriptions, emailing and/or calling 503.575.9982, or coming to a class a bit early to chat with the instructor. You can also contact our studio advisor, Kari, who would be happy to talk with you about which classes you should take. Above all, remember to listen to—and trust—your body; it’s your best teacher.

Anything else I should know before taking a class?

Make sure to read our “Helpful Tips and Things To Know About Taking Classes at Sellwood Yoga” and “Helpful Tips and Things to Know About Taking Classes at Align Fitness” pages.

Let us know how we can help you. We love to share our passion for Yoga and Wellness with others.

Here’s a testimonial from a student:

“I came to Sellwood Yoga simply to join a friend for a class, and I signed up for the two week pass. I have to tell you, Sellwood Yoga is the best studio I have visited in Portland. I have not been able to maintain a regular yoga practice since I moved here years ago because I could not find anything that matched the experience I was used to: a small, clean, comfortable studio, with excellent instructors who really care to check and correct postures. Coming to Sellwood Yoga felt like coming home. I just signed up for the 15 class pass, and I look forward to developing a more regular practice. Thank you for creating such a lovely yoga experience.”