1. Study first.
Learn the basic poses from an expert instructor before beginning your own practice. Classes develop a sense of community and they're motivating. Plus, your instructors can make hands-on corrections if you're doing something wrong.
2. Plan wisely.
Choose a time and place where you won't be disturbed. This might be in the morning, when your mind is quiet and receptive, or in the evening, when your body isn't so stiff. It doesn't matter when, as long as you do it consistently.
3. Equip yourself.
The only equipment you really need is a sticky mat, comfortable clothing and your bare feet. Props like blankets, blocks and straps can ease you into more difficult poses, but your focus in the beginning should simply be on mastering the basics.
4. Get warm.
It's important to start with a warm-up to get movement and flow going. This will prepare your body for tougher postures that require more strength and stability to perform. Your warm-up should take between five and 10 minutes, but it's more important to observe how your body feels than to watch a clock.
5. Start slow.
When you're beginning a practice on your own, one hour of yoga can feel overwhelming. Keep it simple so that you want to continue. Start with a few poses you know and feel confident doing. When you're finished, lie in a corpse pose—on your back, letting feet fall open, arms relaxed at sides, palms up—for five minutes. Repeat this routine for two weeks, paying attention to how your body feels. Gradually add new poses and hold them a little longer.