How To Start Yoga
Compared to other forms of exercises, yoga is known to not just keep you fit and strong but also bring you a better mental health state, positive vibe, and well-being. Though the fact that yoga is proven beneficial in physical health as well as in mental health, the poses and the terms used in it makes some people hesitant to get started. So to break the barrier, here are the things that can help you start your own yoga practice.
The Basics of Yoga
It is often a misconception that the poses are the only element of yoga but the truth is that yoga practice starts with breathing. The prana, or breath, is needed as you move and use your energy. There are several breathing techniques in yoga but the very basic is breathing through your nose filling the abdomen and chest and slowly releasing the air through your nostrils. There are several videos available online that teach various breathing techniques used in yoga.
Learn The Poses
Right after you learn how to breathe properly then you go ahead and start exploring the poses. There are a lot of poses that require you to bend, lie down and so much more, and so you might want to start with some very simple and basic poses like the ones below:
- Mountain pose (Tadasana) – This is said to be the mother of all poses because it establishes balance to the poses. To do it, simply land your feet on the ground firmly with your tailbone tucked slightly and your arms just beside your hips. You can add simple movement to this pose as well. As you inhale, extend your arms out to the sides and up overhead. As you exhale draw your hands together and bring them down in front of your heart center.
- Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanansana) – It is believed to one of the most popular poses in yoga. It stretches your back, arms, and hamstrings. It is also great for finding the center and releasing stress. To execute it, start with your hands and knees (aligned with your hips) on the floor as your palms adjacent to your shoulders then lift your hips up to form a triangle. Stretch your hips up as your chest moves in. Maintain this pose and feel your muscles stretch.
- Cat/cow pose (Marjaryasana to Bitilasana) – This pose is great for your back. Start with your hands and knees on the floor and your back in a relaxed state. Make a big inhale and as you exhale pull your back up and your chin moves in towards your chest. Onto your next inhale, arch your back allowing the belly to move towards the floor as you lift your tailbone and head upward.
- Child’s pose (Balasana) – This one is considered easy and invigorating pose after a series of difficult poses. To start, place your hands and knees on the floor, gently pull your buttocks down until your stomach rests upon your legs leaving your back, shoulder, and arms stretched while your head rests on the mat.
Know Your Type of Yoga
To know the type of yoga that you want to practice, you must first know your motives for doing yoga. Is it for health or physical fitness? Do you want to ease your worries and find your center? Are you battling anxiety and sleep deprivation? There’s yoga for everything. Also, know what suits you well. If you are new to yoga then it is recommended that you start with hatha yoga because of its slow-paced movement thus allowing you to give time to work on your poses. It will also help you learn various breathing techniques so that over time you can build confidence to try other forms of yoga such as; Bikram yoga (a high temperature and intense 26 series of yoga poses) or hot yoga (a heated surrounding with a free pattern of yoga poses), kundalini yoga (chant and meditation based yoga for mental and self-awareness), or vinyasa yoga (a fairly fast-paced class that links movement to breath).
Things to Prepare
Yoga is meant to be stress-free and simple, you only need few things to have it start.
- Yoga Mat – It is considered the most essential thing in yoga. The mat will serve as your protection and your space. You need a mat in practicing yoga to avoid slipping and hurting yourself as you do the poses. It also serves as your cushion against the ground. There are rubber mats available in stores but if you don’t have one you can use a non-slip rug or carpet just as long as it will hold its place and will not slide. Those other tools like yoga blocks, blankets, and cushions can be improvised if you plan on practicing at home. You can use a pile of hard-bound books for the yoga blocks, any blanket in your house for the blanket, and a rolled-up towel for the cushion.
- Clothes – There is no required or strict dress code in yoga. Wear whatever you want as long as you are comfortable and you can move with whatever it is you’re wearing. Many yogis typically wear comfortable yoga pants or shorts, and some opt to wear yoga socks as well.
- Water – This is very important most especially in hot yoga and Bikram yoga where you will perspire a great amount and you’ll need to replace your fluids eventually. It is also a way to cool down if you are too exhausted.
- Instructional DVD/Videos – You will need this if you plan on practicing yoga at home most especially if you are not familiar with how to do the poses correctly. There are lots of videos and DVDs that you can choose from that will guide you and inform you of the whole yoga process now, there are many great yoga YouTube channels available to learn from as well.
How to Start
Whether you’re going to a studio class or practicing at home, it’s important to minimize distractions. Start by turning off your phone or keeping it away. Next is to prepare your body and mind. As a newbie, it is ideal to start your yoga with breathing exercises and/or meditation. If you are following an instructional DVD, most of the time they start by teaching you and explaining the breathing exercise and sounding om as a chant and then they will smoothly transition to the poses which they will guide and explain to along the way.
Likewise in yoga class, if you are attending a yoga for beginners, the teacher will walk you through it by leading an example. What’s great about attending a class is that the teacher can help to correct your poses or assist you if you are having a hard time. Lastly, do not feel intimidated if you cannot ace the poses immediately. Remember that not all people have the same flexibility and strength. You will eventually move fluidly and gracefully as you keep practicing. The important thing is that you are doing your best and you are enjoying what you do.
They say that the most difficult part of doing something is actually starting it. It is difficult to start something like doing a new fitness regime because it is hard to fight our laziness – the comfort of doing nothing and just lounging is more appealing than getting up, changing clothes, and sweating. Our biggest competition is ourselves – it is ourselves who defy our will, it is our self-doubt who keep us from succeeding, and it is ourselves who pull us from where and what we are meant to be. Start doing it even by just taking small steps like doing research or watching videos – the key is that you are getting informed and you are getting somewhere.