Yoga is a holistic practice that offers health benefits like flexibility, weight loss, and stress relief. But it can be intimidating for beginners who think they’re not flexible enough or in good shape.
The key to starting yoga is finding a class that is suitable for your physical ability. Check out our guide to five yoga types for beginners.
The practice of yoga includes breathing exercises that help to calm the mind and relax the body. It also encourages the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system which allows the body to rest, digest and heal. This can have numerous benefits for beginners on and off the yoga mat including lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety, better sleep quality, stronger immune system, deeper relaxation and greater emotional stability.
One of the most important pranayama techniques for yoga is the three part breath. This is a gentle, calming breathing technique that can be done anytime and anywhere. It involves placing a gentle contraction in the back of the throat on the inhale which creates a whooshing sound, reminiscent of the ocean wave that gives this breathing technique its name.
Another simple but effective yoga breathing exercise is the humming bee breath. This breathing technique balances the body’s circulation and vata energy by making the exhalation longer than the inhale.
There’s a lot to learn when starting yoga, and it may seem daunting at first with scores of postures with strange names. However, it’s important to remember that yoga is a lifelong pursuit, giving you ample time to master the many poses.
One of the first poses in any yoga practice is the plank pose, or balasana. This simple position strengthens the core, arms, and legs. It also helps lower blood pressure and relieves headaches, stress, and anxiety.
Another basic beginner’s pose is the cobra pose, or bhujanga. This backbend stretch increases flexibility and is the basis for much of the Sun Salutation series in Vinyasa yoga.
Lastly, the tree pose is an excellent introduction to balancing postures. It strengthens the core, hip flexors, and legs. It can be difficult to stay balanced in the beginning, so don’t push too hard. Instead, focus on the breath and move as comfortably as possible. This will help you avoid injuries that could derail your newfound love of yoga.
When you step into a yoga class for the first time, it can feel equal parts enlightening and intimidating. The yogi lingo and Sanskrit phrasing can be confusing, and the poses require a degree of flexibility that most beginners don’t possess.
Yoga isn’t designed to be painful, and it shouldn’t be, but many beginner yogis find that certain poses can be extremely challenging or even painful to perform if they aren’t modified. Luckily, there are a variety of ways that yoga can be modified to make it more accessible for those who aren’t as flexible.
The most common modification for yoga is to use a prop, like a block or a pillow, to support the body in the pose. Alternatively, some yogis may need to reduce the depth or angle of the pose or adjust their weight to make it more comfortable for them. Practicing yoga three or more times per week will help you see major improvements in your flexibility, balance, strength, and inner peace.
While most people associate yoga with physical poses and breathing, meditation–the process of focusing the mind–is also an essential part of a well-rounded yoga experience. Learning to meditate is like building any other skill; it takes time and practice to get comfortable with it. You can start by setting aside just a few minutes at first and coordinating your meditation with your physical yoga practice.
Some yogis use the visual object of a candle’s flame, or an om symbol, as their focal point; others focus on their breath, following it as it goes out and then back in. Still others meditate on a specific chakra, or energy center, in the body, imagining the color associated with that chakra as their object of focus.
No matter what technique you choose, remember that the purpose of meditation is not to clear your mind of thoughts. Instead, your job is to notice when your attention wanders and gently escort it back to the breath or physical sensations of your posture.