Beginning Yoga - The Start of Your Incredible New Journey

Natarajasana - King Dancer Pose



Beginning Yoga - A Warm Welcome!

Beginning yoga is the most worthwhile thing you can do for yourself, but it may be a little intimidating at first. Seeing some of the yoga positions in books, magazines and websites can make a beginner go running in the other direction. But yoga is not all about twisting yourself into pretzel shapes.

Every time you look at a yoga pose that looks downright impossible, just know that the practitioner started at the basic level and probably had to practice for years to get to that level of physical strength and flexibility. When you first start practicing yoga you may not have strength and flexibility, but with a little time and practice, you'll be amazed at how well the body responds. Hatha yoga is what we will be covering and you can read a little more about it

here. Another roadblock for beginners is the many different styles of yoga. You may be wondering which one is right for you. Don't become bogged down by the confusing array of different yoga styles, names and techniques that all proclaim to be the best one. As a beginner, just focus on doing some basic yoga poses, deep breathing and relaxation. As you progress and learn, you may start to gravitate to more advanced poses, but for now, just take it slowly. Eventually, you will find the practice that is right for you. Overwhelming yourself is sure to get you to the point of frustration. That is the complete opposite of what yoga is, which is a deeply inward practice that seeks to unite the body, mind and spirit. Most importantly, you don't need to do any of the difficult poses to have a truly beneficial and life enhancing yoga practice. The beauty of beginning yoga is all about the transformation you will experience, regardless of whether or not you want to get to the level of advanced physical moves. Perhaps, as you gradually move beyond the beginners' yoga positions, the History of Yoga and Eight Limbs of Yoga will lead you on a wonderful spiritual journey.

The positions are only a small part of yoga, and you can reap all the benefits by doing simple, basic postures that will feel wonderful. Yoga rejuvenates the body and balances the nervous system. In time, you may find yourself advancing naturally into more difficult poses, but taking it slow is the prescription for beginning yoga. No one should ever force the body into painful positions. That is how people find themselves at the doctors office, sustaining injuries that may be lifelong and debilitating. All you need to do is be open, be consistent, be willing to learn and set time aside every day to practice. If you are pressed for time and are stressing over when to fit it in, it is much better to do a short twenty to thirty minute session of yoga every day than to practice just once a week for an hour and a half. If you are really busy and have absolutely no time, just do this one series of poses that only takes a few minutes. It will make you feel energized and will gently stretch and tone the major muscles of the body. Make it manageable and you'll look forward to your daily practice.

Beginning Yoga - Teachers and Classes

There are many places to practice yoga. Just about every gym offers yoga classes and if you are lucky enough, you'll find a studio dedicated to nothing but yoga nearby. According to where you live, you may have a yoga studio on every block, or you may have to travel quite a distance if you live in a very rural area.

The best way to start a practice is with a qualified yoga instructor. However, if you are new to yoga, you may not know if a teacher is qualified, safety-minded and right for you. The first thing to look for is whether or not the teacher has been certified through a quality school or course. He or she should have, at the very minimum, two years of teaching experience and be registered with Yoga Alliance®, which states that they are: "an organization that registers both individual yoga teachers and yoga teacher training programs (schools) who have complied with minimum educational standards established by the organization. Yoga Alliance® supports yoga teachers and the diversity and integrity of yoga. Our mission is to lead the yoga community, set standards, foster integrity, provide resources, and uphold the teachings of yoga." Yoga Alliance® registration does not guarantee that a teacher will be the right one for you, but it does give more assurance to the quality of the teacher. A good instructor has an abundance of knowledge and takes into consideration the fact that everyone is an individual and doesn't force anyone to get into poses beyond their capability. Practicing in a non-competitive, supportive environment will help you to maximize your true potential. Go by your feelings, they're usually right.

When no teacher is available, you may have to start your own process of learning, which in today's world will not be hard to do. Beginning yoga is a relatively inexpensive proposition when doing it at home. There is a wide variety of excellent books and DVD's that can be delivered to your door in a matter of days or overnight. You can find yoga DVD's at most larger bookstores. The internet can be your source for learning, as well as this site! Visit this selection of free beginners video clips that will give you some guidance. All that is needed is your participation and willingness to learn. You may need a few props or other pieces of equipment such as straps or belts to help with stretches, yoga blocks for assistance with some poses, and most importantly, a good yoga mat.

More supplies and information can be found at my Yoga Exercise Equipment Page. You will also need to wear comfortable clothing. Anything that is not too constricting is fine. Natural fiber clothing is best. Avoid clothes that are too baggy. Baggy clothes might actually interfere with movement and prevent you or your teacher's ability to see your alignment.

Beginning Yoga - Enjoying Your Practice

Supported yoga poses and the use of bolsters, blocks, and blankets to align you in perfect comfort help calm the mind and open the heart. A gentle, slow-moving sequence will give great benefits and help you to de-stress. Once people begin a yoga practice, the triumphant accounts of the first time they achieve a pose to perfection is memorable. Sick or injured people can benefit from yoga and certain yoga positions can be performed in a chair, or even a bed. Beginning yoga can build strength, flexibility, body awareness, better breathing capabilities, balance, confidence and a greater sense of well being. Beginning yoga will give you a solid knowledge of basic poses.

Sun Salutations are a flowing sequence of poses with forward bends and gentle back-bends that take you through a full range of motion and are usually done at the beginning of your practice to warm and loosen-up the body. Sun Salutations increase flexibility and steadiness, making the body strong and helping to build endurance. Learning and adding new poses happens gradually as the regularly practiced poses become perfected. Holding the poses is the key to gaining greater flexibility and coming to the place of stillness within. Basic yoga poses form the foundation for more advanced postures, should your practice unfold and develop into something more physically challenging.

Moon Salutations are a counter balance to the Sun Salutations and are also a wonderful sequence of asanas to cool and calm the body.

Beginning Yoga - Meditation

Meditation is an important part of yoga. The mind, body and breath are all connected, so beginning a meditation practice is essential. Meditation is the gateway to the subconscious and brings benefits to every part of your life. You can explore the many wonderful benefits of meditation at my Meditation Page.

Yoga uses the power of the mind to unlock the body's extraordinary potential. A transformation through yoga and meditation is accomplished when the seeker realizes the difference between the ego-dominated physical body and the infinite qualities of the soul. As a result of meditation, the psychic and intuitive aspects of the individual are heightened, and the knowledge of oneness and connection to the unbounded power of the universe becomes apparent.

Beginning Yoga - Pranayama

Breathing techniques, called Pranayama, are controlled breathing exercises that increase lung capacity and enhance the life force, called Prana. Certain pranayama techniques energize the body and some relax the body. Pranayama breathing techniques increase the benefits of the postures by bringing in more oxygen to the body and increasing the healing properties of the asanas. Gentle Ujjayi breathing is one way to start a very basic Pranayama practice. This easy breathing practice will help to relax the body through deep stretches, and adds a meditative quality to your practice due to the audible sound of the breath.

Beginning yoga is a worthwhile investment. You don't find yoga, yoga finds you, and it works its magic through you. The various practices of Hatha Yoga , the subject of this article, unifies the body, mind, breath and spirit, and leads us to the ultimate realization that all of creation is a harmonious manifestation of one universal energy. There is a vibrating symphony of cosmic energy in the universe. Through yoga, you will find that you are a vital part of that symphony.


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