Yoga for Beginners
Yoga: Should I Start?
Beginners in the world of yoga often times feel overwhelmed or ‘out of the loop’ when inquiring about Yoga classes. In many cases yoga can seem more like a clique more than a practice of well-being. This article is meant to give beginners an idea of what yoga is, what you can get out of yoga, example yoga positions for beginners and what you can expect from yoga classes as a beginner.
What is Yoga, Exactly?
You may have heard about yoga classes from a friend or co-worker, and you want to know just what exactly yoga is.
The physical part of yoga, or asanas, requires students to learn and master certain yoga ‘poses’ or positions. Beginner yoga poses are usually very simple and quite easy to do – indeed the first pose you will learn is literally sitting cross legged with your back straight – and are usually performed for the purpose of practicing breathing or pranayama.
Breathing is just the first thing you’ll learn about yoga that seemingly (at first) has nothing to do with the exercises. Yoga breathing is in fact one of the most important parts of yoga, with different breathing techniques having different names. Breathing helps your body relax (which is essential for flexibility), promotes circulation (which is important for yoga health) and helps with concentration and focus (an essential part of yoga).
Concentration and meditation are another important part of yoga. Depending on what type of beginner yoga class you take, there may be more or less of an emphasis on the mental discipline of yoga. Yoga beginners will usually learn how to focus on one object or thought, and, while breathing properly, drive all other distractions from their mind. This meditation is usually performed daily along with the asanas (poses). Eventually, the individual acquires the ability to better control their body (flexibility, self diagnosis) and their mind (less stress, slow disintegration of mental disorders, anxiety, etc). Overall, the body also gets a workout, promoting agility, health and wee-being.
Yoga Classes for Beginners
So what can you expect from your first yoga class? Well for starters, if you have a good instructor, they should be able to welcome you and make you feel welcome in the class. A good part of yoga is being comfortable with yourself and your surroundings, including your immediate environment. You can expect your yoga instructor to also give you a short briefing on yoga, inviting you to further readings. Most yoga classes for beginners start by having everyone sit on their yoga mat cross legged, having everyone practice breathing techniques. Vinyasa is a common breathing technique where one breath is taken for each movement. (For example: slowly breath in while lifting your arms above your head, then slowly breath out as you bring your arms down and your hands into a prayer position.)
After your yoga briefing and a bit on breathing, you can expect your instructor to show you many of the poses you will be performing with each class routine. The idea is to have the beginner learn all of the poses so that he or she can practice them in each class. Most yoga classes for beginners go over all of the poses each session until everyone has mastered (or at least remembered and can adequately perform) all of the asanas. Once everyone is performing, further teaching on breathing and meditation is usually taught.
Yoga Positions for Beginners
Beginner yoga positions, like all yoga positions, are broken down into a couple key types. Although variations change with different yoga techniques, the general types are sitting and standing, and difficulty levels are usually ‘beginner’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘advanced’. Sitting and standing positions are found in all three difficulty categories. The most common beginner yoga positions are sitting positions, where an emphasis is made on breathing technique. Other beginner yoga positions would include some bending and stretching, not unlike what you would see an athlete doing before performing in sport. Yoga positions for beginners, although the easiest, are not meant to be mastered in one day. The important thing is to remember each yoga pose, and to practice them daily in a set routine, while concentrating. Within weeks these yoga poses will be easy to perform and fun to do.
What You Need to Bring
What do you bring to your first yoga class for beginners? A yoga mat and some loose fitting clothes, that’s it. Oh and of course an open mind and willingness to learn! It’s not surprising that yoga, stemming from Hindu origins and Buddhist influence, needs the practitioner to bring nothing but focus and willingness to the table (the mat just makes it much more comfortable and helps avoid injury).