What you need to know
Welcome to a breakdown of Yoga Beginnings – everything you need to know!
While most people know it as a physical exercise, yoga is a mind and body practice. It’s a beautiful journey wherein one learns how to master the mind and self, how to expand the energy with breath and to practice its postures. Your body is likely to become more flexible with regular practice, but there are plenty other benefits too.
Many styles of yoga combine meditation, breathing and the postures. Some of the physical practices are basic while others are more intense.
So which one should you try? What style is more suited to you? What can you expect?
Well, the best way to know is to give it a try. Visit different studios or join an online class. There are thousands and thousands of online videos as well live classes.
In this post I will cover most of the questions that I had about yoga. Like … what are the benefits? Which style of yoga should I try? What do I need in terms of equipment/tools? What is it all about?
When I first tried yoga many moons ago, I had a ton of questions. At the time I had recovered from a lung operation and some years after that injured 4 vertebrae in my back from a car accident, so I was always very conscious of what I should and shouldn’t try.
It’s important to remember to ALWAYS put safety first.
So here we go…
If you have any injuries, are recovering from a previous injury or illness, or have a medical condition consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise or sport. Same goes for any pregnant ladies.
After all my incidents I did start with the assistance of physiotherapists. So I had peace of mind, as there is no point in beginning a journey when your mind is forever worrying.
Yoga is low-impact and injury due to yoga is rare. It is still best to follow the guidance of a trained instructor.
Beginners should start with the basics to build strength. Simple poses could still be heavy on the wrists and knees and shoulders, so build strength before moving on to extreme poses and advanced techniques.
What are the benefits of yoga?
Benefits are plenty…
- builds muscle strength
- increases flexibility and balance
- healthier joints and organs
- improves respiration and blood flow
- boosts immunity
- a more balanced metabolism
- helps ease stress
- relieves anxiety
- cardio health
- circulatory health
- happier mind
- a better night’s sleep
- speeds up recoveries
- increases sense of well being
What are the types of yoga?
There are more types of yoga than I can count on both hands. It makes sense to choose one more suited to you and your fitness level although, many yogis like to practice more than just one style. Here are the ones I’ve come to hear of most often.
Hatha yoga refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical exercises. Specifically Hatha is a set of basic asanas (postures) or sequence of asanas that are slower paced than most other physical types.
Vinyasa means ‘flow’. In a Vinyasa class you will flow from one posture to another in a sequence. Every class is different and is quite an athletic style. (Vinyasa stems from Ashtanga yoga).
Ashtanga is more physically demanding and energetic, rapidly linking every movement and breath. The sequence of poses are usually practiced in the same order, so you know what’s next and the mind can focus on improving each pose.
This is another energetic type of yoga, based on the traditional Ashtanga system, except the poses here are not necessarily performed in the same sequence.
This type focuses on alignment and precise movement. Each pose is held longer and relies on a range of props to help perfect the form.
Also known as “hot” yoga, this style is practiced in heated rooms at high temperatures and humidity. It consists of 26 basic poses.
Kundalini yoga aims to release pent-up energy via breathing, mantras, chanting and meditation.
This is a slower, more relaxed yoga practice. Gravity does most the work here. Yin yoga allows the release of tension in key joints, including the ankles, knees, hips, the back, neck and shoulders.
In a restorative class you focus on body relaxation spending time in fewer poses using props like blankets and bolsters to sink into deep relaxation.
Prenatal yoga uses postures that practitioners have designed for moms to be.
What do I need to begin?
The main item would be a mat. There are many different types of mats. Textures differ. Size differ. They could be rubber, natural, plastic, sticky or hemp mats, travel-sized or standard. For me, I prefer a 6mm thickness as it adds a bit of padding for my knees.
Clothing should be comfortable like yoga leggings/tights and a top. If the top is too baggy it might fall over your face when in inversion poses, so fitted is best.
No footwear – as yoga is practiced barefoot.
Props like blocks and straps.
What to expect in class.
Studio classes usually range from 45 minutes to 2 hours while online you could find options like a 15 minute wake-up session or 20 minute night-time wind-down to a full on work out.
Depending on the class size, your instructor may give individual guidance. Instructions are given throughout for alignment and positioning so listen to the dialogue. If you have difficulty doing certain poses, you can be shown an alternative.
Many studios’ expectations are the same… – arrive early and don’t interrupt the class. Questions are welcome, but try to ask at the beginning or end of the class, depending on how many students are present.
Your experience from one class or instructor to another can be very different. So if you didn’t enjoy your first, try another!
A yoga class is meant to be a place where you feel comfortable. It’s not a place of judgment. Go at your own pace and don’t worry if you can’t keep up from the get-go.
Did you have any questions that wasn’t covered here? Let me know and I will look to include an answer in this post. Otherwise I hope the above information was of help. ヅ
You can read about my fave asana sequence here.