Yoga is an ancestral spiritual discipline of Hindu, Buddhist and Jainist origin. In the West, this practice is much less spiritual, because it is more leaning to gymnastics sessions based on sequences of postures called “asanas“. There are several forms of yoga: some persevere on strengthening the body, others on relaxation or the circulation of energy, stretching, etc. In fact, given a wide range of styles, each of you will find the yoga that will be best for you. Some yoga teachers may focal point on postures, others on meditation or breath control.
Define the motivations that drive you to do yoga
Before testing a class, know why you want to do yoga. You may decide to do physical activity, learn how to handle your stress, have a more therapeutic approach to treating sickness and injury or be able to flourish to achieve inner peace.
- Take a moment to reflect on what you want to accomplish in your pursuit of wellness. You may wish to gain flexibility, strengthen your muscles, achieve more endurance, and reduce anxiety, depression (1). You might not have such unambiguous goals in mind, but simply feel better in your body.
- Set goals in your yoga practice. Do not be uncertain to regularly review your goals. Add other motivational basics and, above all, do not change them too often to have the satisfaction of reaching them. For example, you could make your mind up to practice every day or still be able to hold a posture.
Do not imagine that there are better yoga styles than others
The diverse approaches reveal very different ways of seeing yoga. Also, you will sometimes find yourself facing more experienced people than you. Competitive spirit does not exist in this discipline, unlike other more traditional activities. Your goal is personal, turned towards a practice in all conscience, active and relaxing. Your life will be enriched and your body will reap the benefits of the different postures that you will perform.
- Yoga is accessible to everyone, even newcomers. If you manage to slip your sessions into your routine, you will benefit physically as well as mentally, even if only 10 minutes a day.
- Finding the yoga that suits you can take time. You may change teachers several times and you will eventually take different paths to finally feel in harmony with the chosen discipline.
- Adopt an open attitude by welcoming your postures without judgment. Transform your negative thoughts like, “I’m not made for yoga, I’m too stiff,” by, “Thanks to yoga, I’m finally going to be more supple. “
- Remember, competition does not exist in yoga. The ambitions are specific to each one. You will not have to compare yourself to others in your progression since the motivations are different for each practitioner.
Equip yourself to have your equipment
You must at least get a yoga mat. Other accessories can be used such as straps, blocks, large blankets and bolsters suitable for yoga practice. Judge for yourself whether it is necessary to buy this type of equipment. These accessories generally facilitate the practice of this discipline by making postures more comfortable and more in-depth.
- Yoga accessories are available at sports shops and in most places where this activity is offered.
Adopt wide and breathable clothing
Give yourself a comfortable fit that can effectively wick away perspiration. Yoga requires great freedom in movement. Inadequate clothing will prevent you from maximizing the benefits of yoga.
- Do not feel obliged to buy clothes specifically designed for yoga. The teacher will recommend a loose and comfortable outfit. Women can wear leggings, a tank top, and a bra that holds the chest well. Men can wear shorts that they use for other sports activities and a t-shirt.
- Some postures require tight-fitting clothes to avoid for example a top that you discover when you lean forward or pants falling.
- If you chose the Bikram yoga that is practiced in rooms warmer than normal temperature or Jivamukti, more sporty and intense, your outfit will necessarily be lighter and absorbent.
Sit in a calm place
You can decide at first to test yoga at home. In this case, do you find a place that guarantees you peace, with plenty of space, away from any passage?
- Make sure you have space on each side of the carpet. Avoid doing your postures near a wall, near objects or any other obstacle.
- The place in which you will evolve will have to guarantee you the tranquility and the calm sought by avoiding any disturbing source. The room you have chosen will have the ideal conditions to make you feel comfortable. Avoid, for example, damp and cool basements.
Start early in the morning
Since yoga falls into the category of activities that require muscles, it is important to start the session with a proper warm-up. Make several greetings to the sun called Surya namaskar. This sequence will perfectly prepare the body and the spirit in the following postures.
- The sun salutation can be done in 3 different ways. You will repeat 2 or 3 times the different variants of Surya namaskar to warm up. Each type of salutation will put you in good muscular conditions and flexibility to continue your movements.
Practice by selecting some postures
There is a wide variety of asanas, from the simplest and most relaxing to the most difficult and intense. Before testing them all, choose a few with which you will feel comfortable and do them with pleasure. You will then be able to reach your goals without difficulty.
- The postures can be classified into 4 categories: sitting postures, inverted postures, postural flexion postures, and back flexion postures.
- Among the movements to do while standing, you have the posture of the mountain (tadasana), the tree (bhujangasana) and the series of postures of the warrior in 3 versions (virabhadrasana).
- You will find in the inverted postures the balance on the hands (mukha vrksasana) and balance on the head (salamba sirsasana).
- In the backward bending, you will meet the grasshopper (aalabhasana), the cobra (bhujangasana) and the bridge (Setu bandha Sarvangasana).
- Torsions can be added to your sequence to strengthen and stretch your spine by moving backward and forwards. You can add the posture of bharadvaja (bharadvajasana) or the sitting twist of the fish Matsyendra (Ardha matsyendrasana).
- You will discover in the flexions before the pose of stretching of the back (paschimottanasana) and the star (tarasana).
- Finish your session with the corpse (savasana), a posture that will bring back all the benefits of previous postures.
- Each posture will take you between 3 to 5 breaths.
- Be sure to work both sides of the body, in the same way, to avoid accentuating any imbalance and thereby rebalancing your entire body.
Pay attention to the breath
Breath control exercises, called pranayama, are the foundation of yoga. This practice will accentuate the positive effects of postures. Breathing will allow you to be more attentive to your feelings and will make you enter a desired state of relaxation.
- Pranayama will provide the necessary oxygen for your body. You will reach a deeper state thanks to the complete inspirations and expirations passing through the nostrils by becoming aware of the passage of air in each of them. You can, for example, inhale long and calmly, hold a few seconds, then exhale in the same way, and 4 times in a row. There are many variants of pranayama.
- If you want to optimize the control of your breathing, sit down, back straight, your shoulders slightly to the back, to avoid the vaulted position. Breathe slowly at a steady rate by first focusing on your belly, inflating it, and then gradually back to your lungs and ribcage.
- Try the breath of the warrior or ujjayi. This breathing will greatly improve the benefits of postures. Inhale and exhale through the nose regularly letting a slight sound from your throat, like a wave.
Spend some time practicing yoga
Whatever your postures, breathing exercises, goals, do not forget to practice as often as you can. 10 to 15 minutes are enough in a day. The more time you spend on yoga, the greater the benefits.
- Settle into a Zen atmosphere with a musical background and some candles. You have the opportunity to practice outdoors if you wish. You will, therefore, immerse yourself in an atmosphere conducive to relaxation and you will put aside all your concerns.
Join a Yoga Class
Define which yoga style you want to orient yourself to
Practices may vary from one course to another. Try several types of yoga and test a few teachers, you will naturally go to the course that seems to best match you.
- Ask yourself about your motivations. Feel free to ask yourself many questions, your answers will lead you to make the best choice.
- “Do I want to strengthen my muscles, tone me, be healthy? Try vinyasa, ashtanga, or jivamkuti.
- “I would like more flexibility, but I do not know which course would suit me? Think of Bikram, lyengar, Kundalini or Hatha.
- “I need to relax, where should I sign up? Test regenerative yoga, yin, Sivananda or Jivamukti.
- “I would like to give myself back dynamism, what to do? Most styles of yoga bring you into this cycle, especially kundalini, regenerative yoga, Sivananda, yin, but also Jivamukti.
- “I would like to get out of my confidence zone by challenging myself, which yoga would suit me? “Go to Ashtanga, Jivamukti.
Have an experienced teacher
Know that there are no state diplomas or federations recognized by the state or even European diplomas. Organizations and federations offer courses that generally lead to obtaining certificates. Select an experienced and qualified teacher in the yoga style you have chosen. You will recognize a good teacher by his qualities and his confidence.
- The yoga teacher will accompany you by helping you throughout the session.
- This same teacher will adopt a positive, welcoming and energizing attitude.
- The teacher will have accumulated a certain knowledge of everything related to yoga and in particular, the philosophy, practice, and history of this discipline.
- The teacher will establish a real dialogue with you if you wish, advising you and making regular comments about your practice
Find a group or place where you will feel comfortable
The styles are so varied that it is necessary to stop in the one that seems to match us. Know also that the atmosphere is a fundamental element in the practice of yoga with the notion of energy circulating. To create a climate of trust, some courses offer something to eat a bit or develop the social dimension by promoting dialogue in the group.
- Take into account the level of other participants. Do you prefer to move to a class where you feel pushed by others? Would you rather join a homogeneous level group? A good structure will offer you several levels of difficulty, from beginner to advanced, as well as more specific courses such as prenatal or postnatal yoga.
- Most trial sessions are free. Do not hesitate to test sessions in several places, with different teachers or in the same structure, try some courses. You may finally be seduced by several styles of yoga and if you have enough time, sign up for these different courses. You will benefit from it in your yoga practice.
Do not hesitate to make your contribution
Many structures also need help in the form of services. You could go to the reception, sweep some rooms, clean the locker room. Ask the studio team if she needs you. She will be very grateful to you because, thanks to you, the item of expenditure will be lighter. You will feel a sense of belonging to a group so beneficial for the mind.
Take an interest in the online course
Even if nothing replaces physical participation and exchange in a yoga class, you can complete your knowledge and practice by going on the Internet or with applications. You will discover a wide range of videos with postures that you would not even have imagined.
- You will find by doing a quick search, postures for any level and free access.
- Check on the Internet the qualifications of the chosen yoga teacher. Make sure this teacher has enough long and quality training to teach.
- Some sites offer individual sessions with a qualified teacher using a web camera. You may consider this alternative if you can not physically go to a yoga class.
Progress In Yoga Practice
Ask your intention
In other words, put yourself mentally in a posture of preparation and welcome of your yoga session. For this, you will take a few seconds to dedicate this series of postures to something or someone, you will enhance the benefits of the session will be more complete.
- Stand in the prayer position by placing your hands on your knees, palms outward. You can open your hands to circulate more energy.
- If you can not express an intention, think of something that you would like to bring out in you to lighten you from that weight.
Gradually extend the time spent on your yoga session
By practicing regularly, you will feel more and more confident in your postures. This will be the time to increase the time of your session by holding your postures longer. You will feel greater harmony after each movement. Schedule increasingly difficult asanas if you can.
- As a rule, classes last between 60 and 90 minutes. So try to stall on this duration.
Intensify your yoga session
You could increase the intensity as soon as you get settled into some kind of routine. Hold your postures longer and increase the difficulty while working in depth.
- Asanas in slit or crouching position can be held a little shorter.
- To increase the intensity, you can do more quickly between each posture.
- A more complex posture to perform will intensify your yoga session by taking one of the 4 basic postures and adding difficulty. For example, the posture on the head called sirsasana can be realized at first by using a wall or by keeping the tip of the feet on the ground then, once the equilibrium acquired, you will raise your legs gradually to the vertical, without help.
Increase the pace of your sessions
One of the best ways to go deep into your yoga practice is to slip more of your yoga time into your schedule. You could even gradually practice every day. If your yoga is included in your program of the week, expect to draw a real benefit for both your mind and your physical wellbeing.
Set new goals
Initially, you may have set yourself as a single goal, become a healthy adult, or find a way to relax in full consciousness. It’s time to set a new goal. If your initial goal was only physical or mental, make the next goal encompass both.
- Discover other songs or other ways of meditating, your practice will gain in-depth.
Yoga has a pretty impressive number of treasures even though the postures you do not look exactly like those of yogis. The key is to consciously embrace the path that yoga shows to all practitioners, regardless of the purpose. Open your mind and your heart constantly.
- Yoga postures should not cause pain. If you feel some pain, correct the posture by returning to a simpler movement. Do not force yourself and if the pain reappears again, change your posture.
- The steps that lead to the final posture are important and pay attention to it. You can also hurt yourself during this phase by wanting to speed up or forcing a bit too much
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