Learn Yoga – Step by Step
Learn Yoga – Step by Step
The benefits of Yoga are well known to everyone who has ever tried the discipline but if you are new to Yoga let me recap. Yoga is a fantastically popular and effective way of strengthening you physically as well as mentally and spiritually.
This last ‘spiritual’ aspect may turn some people off, but it’s not something that needs to be associated with religion. Really the best alternate word for the spiritual strength of Yoga is contentment or happiness. It allows you to be a calmer person and more happy with yourself. Put like that it sounds pretty great doesn’t it?
Step by Step
So you’ve probably heard a little about Yoga and wondered what it’s all about. you probably have a few preconceptions and maybe an image of an old man with a long beard sitting in the lotus position springs into your head in automatic association with the word. Let’s go through step by step what you can expect in a typical Yoga session.
Step One: The Introduction and Preparation.
Most Yoga classes begin in a standing position. There are both mental and physical reasons for this and they are closely connected. The standing position is the most natural Human position there is.
Leonardo Da Vinci produced a famous scientific picture of the symmetry of the human body when it is in its natural standing position. The outstretched arms and legs can have a perfect circle drawn around them and this is true of everyone regardless of their height or weight.
What this means is that a standing pose comes naturally to us – we are not worried about getting it wrong and we can concentrate on the state of the body.
Breathing exercises will be a key part of the warm-up stage for your routine. This is the only time in your life you will be ‘taught’ to breath and it’s a skill which allows people to restore calm to their bodies and thoughts.
Step Two: The Main Routine
This is the art of your Yoga session which will vary the greatest depending on what forms of Yoga you are learning. While the individual exercises you will be doing are going to be quite different, the nature of them will be very similar.
This will mean moving into certain poses and positions and holding those poses to allow the body to stretch out muscles and muscle groups that in many cases haven’t been given much attention during the week.
Some Yoga teachers will talk to you about energy points of chakras. These are important junctions in your body where congestion occurs and stretching them out allows energy to flow freely around your body.
Step Three: Ending the Session
While the main session is about releasing pent up energies, this stage of your Yoga workout is all about allowing that energy to flow around your body. Many people have trouble with thinking about some strange mystic force that is flowing through you and driving it to certain parts of your body. If you are one of them just mentally substitute the word ‘energy’ with the word ‘blood’.
We know that the job of blood is to carry nutrients and oxygen around our body, and we know that if any part of our body is lacking in this supply that we will become ill, so it’s not a huge stretch to think of blood as the mystic energy force that brings health around our body, and exercises such as Yoga as being the method of ensuring the smooth and successful flow of that blood.
Different Yoga Positions
Different Yoga Poses and Asanas
Classical yoga has developed over time to include many different styles for a range of situations, needs, and preferences. However, the majority of Yoga styles still fall neatly into either the therapeutic or the meditative category. Both categories have many hundreds of different Asanas, (poses or positions) and all of these are designed to benefit both the body and the mind.
Five Prayer Positions
Yoga takes the five ‘prayer’ positions and uses a corresponding yoga position to activate the seven chakras in the body. A Chakra is a type of energy field or is sometimes thought of as a key position in the flow of energy throughout our body.
Each different type of Yoga and each different Yoga position will have a different chakra as it’s core emphasis. All of these positions, which we tend to think of nowadays in Western Yoga as exercises, were in fact originally the preparation for the Yogi to enter a state of meditation.
The actual positions or poses of Yoga are known as Asanas and they may seem complicated or difficult to a new Yoga student. It’s important not to forget that all of the basic positions of Yoga are designed to improve the body’s strength and flexibility, and as these characteristics are improved it also makes the positions more comfortable and easier to settle into.
The deep stretching that is the basis of most Yoga positions is beneficial for trauma disorders, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow amongst others.
Before you begin you may find it beneficial to attain a basic knowledge of the philosophy and theory behind Yoga, however, this is not a requirement or essential to your success. It does assist with being comfortable settling into and performing the poses associated with Yoga, and it should be remembered that if you cannot do this then you will probably not benefit from Yoga.
There is a common misconception about Yoga that it is only for the tremendously flexible who can contort themselves into weird and wonderful positions. Chanting is often also associated with a Yoga class in people’s preconceptions. Neither of these ideas is true. The Yoga positions are generally quite easy to get into but they do have several different depths in many cases. This means that a complete beginner can move into a position and still benefit from it at a great level after many years of Yoga.
There are some advanced positions that a beginner should probably not bother themselves with. Just as you are not going to compete with top marathon runners on your first day jogging, but can still get benefits, you are also not going to be able to ease into some of the positions that an instructor is capable of.
Likewise, if you are pregnant or perhaps have an injury such as a bad back you should inform your Yoga instructor before you begin. There are some positions that can actually be detrimental to certain conditions. Twist exercises with recurring back injuries are one of these.
Yoga is something that is most beneficial in a comfortable environment, as the muscles will stretch better when they are still warm. It’s important to learn the discipline to enter and leave each new pose or position slowly. Not only does this help to avoid injury but also the movement from one pose to another is often part of the program.
Don’t hold the poses and positions longer than is natural for you either. As you become more used to practicing Yoga positions each day the benefits will allow you to hold a position with more ease for longer periods of time.
When practiced correctly the benefits of Yoga are many. Lubrication of the joints, ligaments, and tendons will result directly from performing the exercises best suited to you. Posture will increase dramatically and you will also experience a sense of wellbeing.
There is also a deeper spiritual level to Yoga (it actually has it’s own philosophy and code of ethics) that you will move closer towards and enhance each time you stretch and go through the breathing exercises.
3 Common Mistakes by Yoga Newcomers
Whenever we start something new we have a certain feeling of trepidation and uncertainty of the unknown. In most cases, it is completely unfounded and we get on with things very quickly and easily. Sometimes it isn’t and a simple little thing can cause us to have an entirely negative first impression. Perhaps we never even want to try that activity or pass time again.
Yoga has so many health benefits, on both a physical and spiritual level, that it would be a tragedy for anyone to miss out on them because they made a silly avoidable mistake on their first day.
With that in mind, here are the 3 most common mistakes of new Yogi, and how to avoid them.
Mistake One: Not knowing what you want from Yoga.
The reality is that there are numerous different styles and forms of Yoga and each has different attractions. Ask yourself what it was about Yoga in general that attracted you and then you can investigate a style that caters more specifically to that.
You may like to set goals, be they physical, mental or spiritual. If you do then it’s a good idea to discuss them with the instructor of your class before you begin. Yoga instructors are usually very approachable and happy to talk about their passion.
They will be able to talk to you about your goals for the class and let you know if you are being realistic, aiming too high or too low. Make sure your goal includes a timeframe so it becomes something that is measurable.
Mistake Two: Jumping in Feet First.
Having decided that they will give this Yoga thing a try many people take a running leap and jump into a 12-month stage by stage class. These classes are usually an upfront payment arrangement and progress from one level to the next as the weeks progress. They are a fantastic way of learning Yoga and becoming very good at it, but it’s quite possibly you will choose a class that is not ideal for you.
Join a Beginners Class
The best way around this is to join a Yoga beginner class, also known as a drop-in class. If you do these classes for a few weeks you will notice a high turnover of students as new people join and old people move on. These classes are designed to give you a very broad feel for the different types of Yoga. The level of the students in the class usually varies greatly so you can expect the instructor to keep the classes quite tame.
Pay as You Go
The other key benefit of doing this is that the classes are pay as you go. So there is no big financial outlay for you while you decide the type and style of yoga that best suits you. You are also not obliged to attend every class. With the longer courses, you can fall behind quickly if you miss a week or two in a row. With the pay as you go classes, you will find that while each class is different the level stays quite low to cater to the newer people joining in.
Mistake Three: Choosing the wrong teacher.
Traditionally a Yogi had to be an apprentice to a skilled Guru for many years before he could teach even the simplest of Yoga technique. Nowadays a 3-day course over a long weekend is considered enough by some people. There is a big difference in what you will achieve depending on the skills and abilities of the person teaching you.
Yoga is starting to make a regular appearance on the sports injury list. A large reason for this is instructors who have been taught just enough to be dangerous. A qualified teacher won’t necessarily be fantastic and an unqualified teacher won’t necessarily be terrible. But the odds are certainly cast in that direction. So it’s a good idea to check your instructors’ background and qualifications before you begin studying with them.
Frequently Asked Questions On Yoga
Yoga has been around for an incredibly long time and over that period different practitioners have added their own refinements and styles into the basic Yoga discipline. There are so many different styles now it is nearly impossible to count, but they all stem from the same core philosophy and methodology.
Unfortunately, the multiple different styles often lead newcomers to the exercise discipline to become very confused. They are confused as to what they are doing and what they can hope to achieve with Yoga. In this article, we answer some of the common questions.
What is Yoga?
This question is the most commonly asked by newcomers. Most people have a general idea but they are not sure where Yoga fits into the world. Is it an exercise? Can it be a philosophy? Is it a form of physical therapy? Is it a spiritual process?
The answer is that to different people Yoga is all of these things. At its core, it is a group of exercises and poses. These poses are very low impact and work by strengthening the body and increasing its flexibility. This is done through static exercise. This means that each pose will ‘stretch’ a certain area. The body benefits from this stretch by increased blood flow and energy release.
Many of the exercises release tension from areas of the body that regular activities do not cater to. Because Yoga is performed slowly and with a strong emphasis on correct breathing patterns there is also a strong mental and spiritual element to the exercise. It is seen as a way of cleansing the mind, body, and spirit.
Do I Need To Be Religious To Get The Most Out Of Yoga?
As mentioned above Yoga is different things to different people. There are many people in the world who perform Yoga purely for its spiritual benefits. There are many others who perform Yoga purely for the physical benefits associated with it.
What you get out of Yoga will depend largely on your mindset, your openness to new ideas. It also depends on your ability to let yourself fall fully into a meditative state. For some people, this is very difficult at first. But that is still not going to prevent them from getting the physical benefits associated with yoga classes.
You will find that even if you do not have any strong spiritual base you will still benefit from an increase in your self-confidence and personal contentment.
Where Can I Do Yoga?
Practically anywhere. Many people practice Yoga in their homes every day. Others will go to the local park and practice Yoga with a group of friends. To begin with, you can inquire at your local gym about Yoga classes, many of them will be holding Yoga every day.
Even if they aren’t they will be able to tell you where the best place to learn Yoga is. Some local councils sponsor Yoga classes in their area in recognition of the benefits to people who exercise regularly.
No Expensive Equipment to Buy
One of the big advantages of a Yoga-based exercise regime is that there is no expensive equipment to buy. It doesn’t take storage space around your house. Some poses are assisted by cushions to support your body. But in general, the only thing you need is your body.
I’m Not Very Fit – Is Yoga For Me?
Yes. Very much so. One of the fantastic things about Yoga is that the exercises and poses you will learn can be adjusted to your level. Fitness isn’t usually a problem because the exercises are slow and often static. Your body will become better at performing them over time as your strength and flexibility improve. Knowing your limit and ensuring that you don’t ‘ease up’ out of habit gain the best benefit.
More books from Amazon on Yoga