Yoga originated in India and focuses on connecting the mind and body. It incorporates yoga poses (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit verb root “yuj” and is often translated as “to yoke” because it unites body movements and breath. Yoga aligns the mind, body, and spirit.
The benefits of yoga are extensive, supporting physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. These benefits vary for each practitioner but commonly include increased flexibility and reduced stress. Yoga not only stretches and strengthens muscles but also provides clarity, calmness, and focus. It has been shown to regulate blood pressure, enhance the nervous system, boost energy, build strength, and alleviate pain. Additionally, yoga cultivates self-awareness and a sense of purpose in many practitioners.
Whether you are new to yoga or returning to the practice after a break.
Here are some beginner tips to support you before, during, and after your yoga sessions:
Tip #1: Let go of preconceived notions
Disregard the stereotypes. Yoga is inclusive and suitable for individuals of all backgrounds and body types. Contrary to what the media may portray, flexibility is not a prerequisite for practising yoga. Flexibility naturally develops due to yoga, rather than being a requirement. Additionally, each yoga student interprets and experiences the practice uniquely, with the freedom to modify poses to suit their own needs and abilities.
Yoga is not limited to specific body types, genders, or races. It is not a religion, cult, or superstition, but rather an ancient system of disciplines aimed at calming the mind. The positive impact of yoga on happiness has been scientifically supported in modern research.
Tip #2: Explore Different Yoga Styles
Currently, there exists a wide array of yoga styles, each offering unique approaches, poses, and practice methods. Furthermore, each yoga teacher incorporates their own teaching style. With such diversity, it can be challenging to determine which style to pursue. Here is a brief overview of some yoga types that you may want to consider:
- Restorative Yoga: A slow and deliberate practice that promotes relaxation of the body and mind.
- Hatha Yoga: An alignment-based style that places significant emphasis on proper posture and breath control.
- Hot Yoga: A vigorous sequence of yoga poses performed in a heated room.
- Yin Yoga: Involves the use of props to support the body during longer posture holds, facilitating the gentle opening of tight connective tissues.
- Vinyasa Yoga: Coordinated flows of movements synchronized with the breath, creating a more energetic practice.
- Yoga Nidra: A guided meditation technique that induces deep, conscious relaxation.
These are just a few examples of yoga styles. There are numerous other classes available, such as Kundalini, Bhakti, Bikram, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Yoga Fusion, Meditation only, and more. The intention is not to overwhelm you but rather to encourage you to experiment and explore until you find the yoga workouts that best suit your preferences and needs.
Tip #3: Experience Yoga at Home
If you’re not yet ready to attend a yoga studio, practising yoga at home, whether through streaming classes or utilizing traditional yoga videos and DVDs, offers numerous benefits. It grants you the freedom to select the time, style, and location of your practice. You can take breaks whenever necessary, and even modify the yoga sequence by skipping or replaying certain parts. Most importantly, practising at home allows you to move at your own pace within the privacy of your personal space.
For guided yoga sequences and workouts, you can explore Practyce, an on-demand yoga studio that provides “Classes That Move You”. Led by experienced yoga instructors, these classes are available anytime and anywhere, offering convenience and accessibility to support your yoga journey.
Tip #4: What to Anticipate
While yoga classes can span as short as 15 minutes, most sessions typically last between 45 to 90 minutes. The sequence, intricacy, and assortment of yoga poses you’ll engage in will depend on the specific style you have chosen. In a basic vinyasa yoga class, you can expect a combination of twists, inversions, backbends, forward folds, and strength-building movements. Generally, an active yoga class comprises the following components:
1. Opening: This segment may involve breathwork, meditation, or a brief discussion on yoga philosophy.
2. Warm-ups: For example, sun salutations encompassing poses such as a downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana), lunges (virabhadrasana I and anjanayasana), cobra pose (bhujangasana), and plank pose (phalakasana).
3. Standing poses: Examples include mountain pose (tadasana) and tree pose (vrksasana).
4. Peak pose: The posture that the class gradually progresses towards.
5. Reclined poses: Yoga postures performed while sitting or lying on the floor, usually during the cool-down phase. Examples include the child’s pose (balasana) or bridge pose (setu bandha sarvangasana).
6. Final relaxation: The class concludes with a deep relaxation pose known as savasana (Sanskrit for “corpse pose”), allowing you to absorb and integrate the benefits of the yoga sequence.
Tip #5: Essential Equipment
Yoga Attire: Expensive yoga pants or a complete wardrobe overhaul are unnecessary for practising yoga. All you need are comfortable, breathable clothes that allow freedom of movement. Leggings or exercise shorts paired with a sleeveless workout top can be ideal. Consider adding layers for the cool-down period and after the class. However, when you’re ready to upgrade your workout wardrobe, we’ll be here to assist you!
You can browse our collection of yoga clothing here.
Yoga Mat: It’s highly recommended to have your own yoga mat. Having your mat ensures hygiene and grants you the flexibility to practice yoga whenever and wherever you desire.
You can browse our collection of yoga mats here.
Yoga Props: Yoga props serve the purpose of both supporting and challenging you in your practice. You can refer to our props guide, which includes items such as yoga blocks, straps, blankets, and more. It will help you understand which props might be useful to have on hand and how and when to utilize them effectively.
You can browse our collection of yoga props here.
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Tip #6: Embrace a Beginner’s Mindset
Although embarking on something new can be daunting, remember that you possess a unique advantage. Cultivating a beginner’s mindset is an integral aspect of the yoga journey, enabling you to enhance your physical and mental well-being. Through consistent practice, you can achieve improved health, strength, and flexibility. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, simply redirect your focus to your breath and savour the transformative process.