There are plenty of yoga asanas that help with strength and relaxation, this is where meditation plays a huge role as well. When you learn the various Yoga poses in a class, you will get an opportunity to scan your body while being aware of how you feel through the poses. For instance, you may feel that your balance on the right leg is better than the left, or that you can stretch one side of your better than the other. This is how Yoga helps students be mindful and helps them meditate effectively as well. Yoga and meditation help make us more aware of our body, and we begin to train our attention span. This helps us notice our postures all through the day and not just in yoga class.
Yoga for Beginners: A Comprehensive Guide to Get Started
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that has been around for centuries. It is a great way to stay fit and healthy, and it can also help you manage stress better. Yoga for beginners has many benefits, but it can also be challenging to get started.
If you are thinking of starting yoga but don't know where to start, then this article will help you with some useful tips and tricks on how to get started with yoga for beginners.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is more than a physical workout because it looks to connect the mind and the body. Mostly, an effective yoga session is identified by a set of exercises, known as yoga postures, along with breathing techniques and meditation; these components together form an efficient yoga regimen.
If you find that an asana is difficult or painful, then there are various ways to modify the pose that will help you the most out of your session. Yoga instructors make use of props like chairs, blocks, straps, and blankets to help students reach maximum potential from their yoga asanas. There is no standard yoga practice, which means it’s not a one-size-fits-all exercise; yoga practitioners will have to come up with yoga exercises that suit the individual to reap the most benefits.
An introduction to Yoga asanas:
Yoga believes that the mind is a pendulum that swings from the past to the future, going from emotions like regret to anger, and fear along with bouts of anxiety, as well as sorrow and happiness. When you perform various types of asanas, they allow you to harmonize your body and mind, thereby bringing about composure. There is more to asanas than physical exertion, and they bring about a balance of ease and effort. This means that during Yoga, the student can put effort into each pose which will eventually help them relax. They help enhance flexibility and expand our mind, as well.
When you follow a list of yoga asanas, it should be done with a sense of awareness. This is important when it comes to breathing techniques. Each movement brings about awareness of a body part; for instance, when you raise your arms, you are aware of your movements and which way you should relax.
Yoga poses for beginners
There are 10 primary poses that tend to complete a yoga workout, especially if it’s meant for beginners, here are some easy yoga poses
Child’s Pose This is one of the primary calming poses, and it’s a great pause position. You can get into this pose when you feel like taking a break from asanas that require too much effort. It will help you rest and recuperate before you move on to the next pose. Child’s pose will gently stretch your lower back, open up your hips, thighs, knees, and ankles, as well as relax your shoulders, spine and neck.
When must you do it? Do this pose when you want a stretch through your neck, spine and hips.
When should you skip it? Avoid this pose if you suffer from ankle or knee issue, experience high blood pressure, or are pregnant.
How can you modify the Child’s pose? Just like any other yoga asanas, the Child’s pose can be modified to suit the student. You can rest your head on the cushion and place a rolled towel under your ankles for extra support, in case you get uncomfortable. Focus on relaxing your muscles and breathing techniques.
Corpse Pose: Usually, a yoga session will end with this pose because it will allow you to relax your muscles. Some people may find it challenging to stay still in this pose, but the more you practice, the more relaxing and meditative this pose will be.
You can modify this pose by setting a rolled towel or blanket under your head or knees, especially if you’re having trouble with your lower back.
Downward facing dog: This yoga pose is done to strengthen the arms, back, and shoulders. It’s also known to stretch the hamstrings, calves and the arches of your feet. It’s a great exercise to relieve any back pain.
When should you skip it? This pose can cause some strain on the wrist, and it’s not recommended for people who experience carpal tunnel syndrome or other wrist issues. Also, patients who are prone to high blood pressure or in the last trimester of their pregnancy should avoid this pose.
How to modify the downward-facing dog? You can pose with your elbows to the ground, and this will carry the weight off the wrists. You can also make use of blocks to feel comfortable. It’s vital that you distribute the weight evenly through the palms and lift your hips away from the shoulders.
Plank pose: This is a great yoga technique that helps build core strength, along with toning the shoulders, legs, and arms. It’s a great pose if you want to build upper body strength.
When should you skip it? Skip this pose if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, or any other wrist issues. When you do the plank, imagine the lengthening the back of your neck and spine.
Four limbed Staff Pose: This is a push-up variation that comes after performing the plank, and it’s a common sun salutation in the yoga sequence. This is a great pose if you are ready to advance from the beginner’s level. This is great because it makes your arms strong and manages to tone your abdomen as well.
When do you have to skip it? Skip this pose if you have an issue with your wrist, recovering from a shoulder injury, or experience lower back pain.
How to modify this pose? You can modify this pose by balancing on your knees. Keep your palms flat on the floor and lift the shoulders away from the floor.
The Seated Half Spinal Twist Pose: The twist asana can help increase flexibility for all your back muscles. From all the various yoga postures, this one will help relieve stiffness while stretching the shoulders, hips, and chest. The pose will also get rid of any tension that is settled at the centre of your back.
When should you skip it? If you have any back injury.
How to modify it? If bending your right knee seems uncomfortable, then keep it straight in front of you. Be aware of your breathing patterns, when you exhale lift your torso and twist.
The link between Yoga and meditation:
Focusing on your breathing:
When it comes to mindfulness and meditation, it’s important to take control of the breathing techniques. They are a vital part of Yoga because it will help you stay focused, reduce stress, relax the central nervous system, and calm the mind. When you get a hold of the yoga breathing techniques then you will automatically find a way into meditation. Recently, people have found that the meditation aspects of Yoga are more useful to them than physical exercises. This is because they need some time to relax, release, and recalibrate.
Abdominal breathing- This technique is also known as belly breathing, and it’s a common breathing process that is found in basic yoga classes. When practicing this technique, you encourage efficient airflow through the body and healthy living in general.
- Inhale until your abdomen is inflated
- Exhale until you feel all the air empty out of your abdomen
Ujjayi breath: Also known as victorious breath, this deep breathing will allow smooth flow of breath when done slowly.
- Constrict the muscles at the back of your throat and take a deep breath, ensure that your mouth is closed.
- The sound should be audible to only you.
Interrupted breathing: Also known as interval breathing, here the student will have to pause and hold their breath (as instructed) during the inhaling and exhaling. This is a really good way to control your breathing, especially if you are looking at advanced yoga classes.
- Inhaling fully
- Release your breath, partially
- Hold your breath
- And exhale the remaining air
- Repeat the process
If you find this technique helpful, then you can do this a couple of times during inhalation and exhalation.
Alternate nostril breathing: When it comes to basic yoga for beginners, this technique can be quite effective when balancing the nervous system and it’s a great idea to try it before going into a meditative state.
You can try it by doing the following:
- Close one nostril and inhale through the nostril that’s opened
- Exhale through the open nostril
- Switch sides and repeat the breathing process
- Repeat it several times
What to wear while practicing Yoga?
Yoga does not depend on many accessories or clothing that is complicated; you don’t really need much. However, if you want your yoga sessions to be comfortable, then this is how you may want to progress.No shoes? No problem!
Yoga is best practised bare feet on a mat, socks, and any kind of footwear must be avoided because they are slippery. If you don’t want to go bare feet, for hygiene reasons, then get socks that have rubber soles as they have a good grip.
There are many types of yoga mats available in the market, and you can choose the one that is best suited for you. Most yoga studios have their own mats which students can use, but people prefer getting their own; usually due to hygienic reasons. Yoga mats differ in density, texture, length, colour, and stickiness. So, it’s best that you try out various mats before you settle on one that suits you the best. For many yoga asanas, it’s best that you choose a mat that doesn’t slip or slide because it will provide you with a good base that will help when transitioning from one pose to another. It’s extremely vital that you keep your mat clean, you can do so by wiping it down with antibacterial wipes after every session. If you are renting out the mats at the yoga studio, then carry a pack of antibacterial wipes with you and ensure that you clean the mats before and after using it.
There are different types of yoga poses, and most of them require free movement; this means that your clothes should not be restrictive. It’s advised that you wear comfortable attire and any workout clothing that allows free movement should be fine. Don’t wear clothes that are too loose as they may get in the way of your movements, especially if you want to progress into advanced yoga asanas that include headstands and handstands.
How to begin practicing Yoga?
If you want to gain all the benefits that come with Yoga and keep practicing the best yoga poses, then you have to find a way to make it part of your daily routine. Here are some of the best ways you can do so:
Create a habit:
Just like any other activity that you would want to cultivate into a habit, you will have to start by making it an essential part of your routine. If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of doing Yoga daily, then instead of diving into it headfirst, dip your toes and start with small and manageable steps. You can perform ten to fifteen minutes of Yoga, daily until you feel confident enough to enrol yourself in a class. Once you get the hang of the standard poses, you can go ahead and learn more poses and get in a good workout for more than fifteen minutes.
Finding a suitable class:
Once you have made a habit of performing Yoga for more than 10 minutes and are comfortable with the basic yoga techniques, then you may want to start looking for a Yoga class. If you’re a beginner, then it’s suggested that you look for a class that is taught by a qualified instructor. The class can be taken in a private or group setting. As a beginner, it’s essential to take up classes because they will advise you on the right poses and also monitor your posture to ensure you get the most out of your yoga sessions.
When researching for yoga classes, look for teachers who have completed a 200-hour certification program and that they are accredited with the Yoga Alliance; these qualifications are essential because they include training and injury prevention. If you are worried about your ongoing medical condition, then you have to consult with your doctor before enlisting in any yoga class. The doctor will help you in figuring out what yoga techniques to perform and which you should avoid.
Look for yoga studios that rent out good quality mats, ones that don’t slip and provide good support. Nevertheless, carry an antibacterial spray and wipes to clean the mat before and after you use it.
How to determine the right Yoga class for you?
There are many yoga exercises, and they are taught in various styles. Some can be challenging and leave you in a pool of sweat, while others focus more on calming the mind and restore your physical balance. Some Yoga instructors may play music while class is going on, while others prefer a silent session. Here are some of the common classes you may find at yoga studios:
Most yoga techniques and asanas that are taught recently, are a form of Hatha Yoga. This means that it focuses on the physical part of Yoga, and not on meditation or philosophies. This yoga class is a combination of breathing exercises and poses, sometimes it can get challenging, and other times it can be relaxing. Check with the yoga studio if they can cater to beginners so that you can start slow and increase the intensity with time.
These yoga classes are aimed at students who can take on advanced levels of Yoga. They are centred on progressive yoga postures. The teachers will merely guide you on the poses, and the students will have to practice them on their own. If you’re a beginner, then this class may not be the one for you because you will need a teacher that’s more hands-on and is willing to include yoga philosophy into their classes.
Power yoga is aimed at building strength, and the classes are inclusive of inversions and advanced poses like handstands and headstands.
Also known as flow classes, they are a mix of beginner and advanced yoga asanas. These classes have an energetic vibe, and the classes have musical accompaniment which depends on the teacher’s choice.
If you’re curious about how your muscles and joints work, then this class is meant for you. Here the instructor will help you focus on your posture along with the poses; they will help you get the right precision so that you get maximum benefits from them. They use props like blankets, straps, bolsters, and such. The classes are also inclusive of breathing exercises and yoga philosophy.
If you want to sweat it out during yoga sessions, then Bikram Yoga is perfect for you. These classes are performed in a series that includes 26 asanas, in a room that is heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s believed that the heat enables flexibility, better stretching, and excellent cardio workouts.
Class Etiquettes, you must follow:
If you are following Yoga for beginners and are about to join your first yoga session soon, then there are some etiquettes that you must follow when joining a new class.
Firstly, yoga students must be punctual; they should reach the studio on time because being late is considered rude and disrespectful. If the class is popular, then it will be crowded, which means the students will be mat to mat and you won’t be able to keep your personal belongings next to you. Keep them stacked on the shelves and turn off your cellphone before the session begins.
If you opt for hot Yoga, then it’s better that you carry your own hand towel, for hygienic reasons. This is highly recommended because you are going to perspire, profusely, and you wouldn’t want to slip on your sweat.
Practicing Yoga at home:
If you feel that your daily schedule is too hectic and you can’t make it for classes regularly, then it’s best to practice yoga asanas at home. You can follow online classes from certified instructors, or find apps that will help you perform basic yoga poses and breathing exercises at home.
Do your own research:
In the end, it’s necessary that you chose a yoga class that suits you the best. Don’t go to classes just because they are popular. Try out different studios that are led by various instructors, take trial classes and practice sessions until you find the one that resonates the best with you.