Are you new to yoga and confused where to start?
Here is what you need to know before joining a yoga class or starting self practice.
Yoga is not for the flexible, It’s for the willing..
“The main philosophy of yoga is simple: Yoga is the Union of Mind, Body and Soul..”
Something I couldn’t understand until I got involved in yoga and gradually life started changing for me.
“Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory”, said one of my teachers during my 200 hour Hatha Yoga teacher training course. So the understanding comes with practice.
Yoga is not a religion. It is a science of well being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul..
Yoga will give you most of what your body and mind needs to live a healthy and happy life.
Flexibility, strength and stress relief is just the tip of the iceberg of benefits that yoga provides. Its miraculous benefits can be experienced soon after you start your yogic journey.
1. Healing Power of Yoga
In 2014, I was diagnosed with an irregularity in my heart beating, a condition called Tachycardia. I remember my friends carrying me to the hospital after attending a dance workshop, not being able to walk and my heart beating at the rate of 208 beats per minute. And the experience gave me new companions who stayed around for about 2 years. Severe headaches, chest pain, wheezing and lots of medication were some of them..
Yoga really helped me with my energy and immunity. Within a few months of practice I could feel the strength building in my body and mind. And the results were amazing.
Chest Pain… NO!
Breathing Problems… Big NO!
Even though yoga is a low intensity exercise it will boost heart health. It is as efficient as walking, running or aerobics in improving heart health.
Every posture is enriched with benefits. The downward facing dog for example, is in itself said to calm the brain, energize the body, improve digestion, strengthen arms and legs and be therapeutic for high blood pressure.
Yoga is just as good for your mind as it is for your body. It will help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. With the help of various breathing techniques, one can slow the heart rate, calm the body and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Not only does the calm but physical nature of many of the exercises release endorphins, responsible for reducing the perception of pain. They also trigger a positive feeling in the body and mind.
Meditation and breathing techniques helps clear, mold and strengthen your mind. With its ability to lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as improve respiration, yoga provides you with the means to deal with psychological problems without resorting to expensive medications.
Yoga can both prevent disease and help you recover from it.
2. Immunity & Metabolism
Asanas (Poses) and Pranayama (Breathing techniques) improves the immune function. But meditation appears to have the most beneficial effect on the functioning of immune system.
In the ’80s it was discovered that the immune system is highly intelligent; the immune cells have the ability to participate in the chemical messages sent by the brain throughout the body. This means that your thoughts, moods, sensations, and expectations are transmitted to your immune cells. When you meditate, these messages change in important ways. Since your immune system responds to both negative and positive thoughts, meditation creates a positive mental environment for the immune system to flourish.
Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way.
Yoga is a great way to burn calories, increase the rate of your metabolism and shape your muscles. It improves digestion and circulation. When the body has poor circulation and is not receiving clean blood at a healthy rate, all of the organs are affected because they aren’t provided with enough oxygen and nutrients. Deep and slow breathing during yoga can improve circulation by allowing arteries to open up, release pressure and increasing the blood flow.
3. Anybody Can Yoga
Yoga is for everyone!
It is available to anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or physical limitations. Prenatal Yoga, for example is a great way to stay in shape during pregnancy. Yoga is a practice without judgment of any kind, and without competition.
Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down.
The point of yoga is to rediscover who you are. It’s awesome physical exercise, it’s going to help you lose weight, get strong, and feel great.
Choose Your Style
Yoga in it’s purest form is a philosophy of mind and body well-being. While there are numerous styles of yoga, each aims to achieve this state of well-being in its own unique way. Some emphasize deep breathing, others focus on meditation, and one in particular on an extremely hot room temperature, while others focus purely on pose.
Are you seeking an intense workout or a way to heal through a meditative flow? Are you looking for a spiritual experience? Are you trying to cure a health condition or are you looking for stress relief?
Here are some common types of yoga:
- Hatha : Hatha is a general category that includes most yoga styles. It will be relatively gentle, slow and great for beginners or students who prefer a more relaxed style where they hold poses longer. It is an old system that includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), which help bring peace to the mind and body, preparing the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation.
- Vinyasa : In vinyasa classes, students coordinate movement with breath to flow from one pose to the next. It is a vigorous style based on a rapid flow through sun salutations.
- Bikram : Bikram yoga consists of twenty-six postures and two breathing techniques, practiced in the same order for ninety minutes, in a room heated to 105°F (40.6°C), with a humidity of 40%. The room is hot and the class challenges you both physically and mentally.
- Kundalini : Kundalini incorporates repeated movements or exercises, dynamic breathing techniques, chanting, meditation and mantras. Each specific kundalini exercise, referred to as a kriya, is a movement that is often repeated and is synchronized with the breath. The practice is designed to awaken the energy at the base of the spine in order to draw it upward through each of the seven chakras.
- Ashtanga : Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic, physically demanding practice that synchronizes breath and movement to produce an internal heat designed to purify the body. It is a great practice for building core strength and toning the body. It is typically fast-paced, vigorous and physically challenging.
- Iyengar : In a typical iyengar class, poses are held much longer than in other schools of yoga, in an effort to pay closer attention to the precise musculoskeletal alignment within each asana. Another trademark of iyengar is the use of props, such as blocks, belts, bolsters, chairs and blankets, which are used to accommodate injuries, tightness or structural imbalances, as well as teach the student how to move into a posture properly.
These are just a few of the most common types of yoga, but there are many more out there available. There are also yoga classes for specific populations, including yoga for cancer survivors, restorative yoga, gentle yoga, and many more. Look for the yoga class that works best for you.
Whichever style you choose, when you start doing yoga, you will learn to let go of what doesn’t serve you, you will become more confident, you will start living in the present, you will enjoy deep sleeps and you will experience health to the fullest.
Please remember that if you don’t like your first class, it doesn’t mean that you and yoga aren’t meant to be.
The beauty of yoga is that it can be practiced pretty much anywhere. So pick your yoga type, find a class or buy a dvd & mat and start practicing yoga.
Stay Healthy & Happy ❤
Originally published at medium.com