Hands to your heart in a prayer position, deep breath in – hold it – and out, now, let’s begin. Sure, you might not have done it yet, but you’ve most certainly heard of it.
The new year is perfect to reflect and set intentions for the coming year. And after the year we have had in 2020, we all could do with some mental restoration.
A popular fitness pastime, the main benefits of yoga revolve around flexibility, strength and mindfulness. There are many different kinds of practices, and we will go into this a little more in a bit. Each have slightly different aims, and while you may not enjoy every kind, there’s bound to be one which will make you commit to the yogi lifestyle. There are lots of yoga daily routines and challenges online that begin at the start of each year, which is why we, at Write Up, have put together this beginner’s yoga guide.
So, if you’re interested in joining in this flexible movement, we’re going to the very heart of these practices, in hopes of showing you why you should get involved, things a beginner should know and ultimately how the benefits of yoga can lead to a happier healthier lifestyle.
The different types
Yoga is not a one size fits all sport, as mentioned there are many different types of this meditative activity. Here are some of the more popular types that you can easily access online or in your local classes:
Hatha – This is the usual go-to beginner’s yoga. Hatha is a slower form of yoga where you hold each pose for a few breaths at a time, so each one can make you go into the pose deeper.
Vinyasa – Vinyasa classes are more focused on flow, unlike and the pace can be rather quick, so, it can feel more like an aerobic workout. However, there are still beginner’s yoga variations of Vinyasa, and if you struggle to clam your mind with the slower pace of Hatha, Vinyasa variation will be for you.
Ashtanga – Ashtanga uses the same series of poses for every class. If you are a beginner you may want to dip your toes into say a Vinyasa or Hatha class first before the order of Ashtanga.
Yin – Yin is a great little number for you to really focus on your breath, you’re in poses for 5 or so minutes as a time. This makes each stretch really deep, helping you to focus your thoughts whilst in this almost meditative state. It is a really great tool to use at bed time, so if you are looking to use yoga as a relaxation tool rather than an exercise, Yin will be perfect.
Bikram – You’ve probably heard about Bikram in its more common guise – hot yoga. A sequence of 26 poses, Bikram is not for the faint-hearted but focuses on the cleansing of your body.
Things to know
As a beginner, you’re at the start of your yoga journey. So, to prepare for the road ahead there are a few things you should know.
- Your breath is so important
Yoga isn’t about manipulating yourself into a pose and holding your breath so that you can stay in it. If this is happening, you’re not doing yoga. A great benefit of yoga is that it begins and ends around your breathing. If you find yourself in the above situation, remember to breathe in your pose and push your other thoughts to the side.
- Don’t compare yourself to others
This could almost be a rule for life, but is especially the case during your practice. Thing is, there will be more flexible, stronger people in the room. Especially if you’re new to yoga. You shouldn’t compare yourself to people who have been doing it for longer, or people who are just made different so can go all the way with a certain position when you can’t. Trust us, we’ve all been next to someone who can bend in ways we didn’t know were possible, who hold every pose to perfection, who remember their breath and so much more. While sure, aim to end up like that, just remember you are at the beginning of your journey – the road does gets bendier the longer you’re on it. Believe you me.
- Always make time for Savasana
After you’re first class you’ll realise there is a part towards the end where you lie on your back and let go (also known quite accurately as the corpse pose). Let your muscles relax, let your mind relax and just lie there and be. You will also notice that this is the time when a few individuals get up, roll their mats up and leave. However, you should always make time for the savasana. It is hands down one of the most important poses of yoga. As it allows you the opportunity to relax and reflect on the practice. Its an integral part of any class, so, make time for it.
You will also realise at the end of your very first class just how calming a practice can be. With the focus on your breath, the savasana, all in all you’ll leave feeling relaxed and very zen. But the benefits of yoga extend beyond this, and can be broken down into mental and physical.
Physically, you start to notice your flexibility and strength improving; even better, your balance will improve as will your joint health. Mentally, the benefits of yoga include you adopting a sense of calmness; yoga introduces meditation into practices which helps you to improve your mindfulness. Yoga also helps improve your confidence (always a great thing) not to mention helps to reduce stress. Essentially, the more yoga you do, the greater a contribution it will give you to a healthier lifestyle.
The benefits of yoga have been around for a long time. And with the popularity of this meditational practice constantly increasing, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Now, we shall leave you to lie in savasana and reflect on how yoga can help you today.