Yoga is both a form of exercise and meditation. Various studies* reveal yoga is helpful in controlling stress, improving bone density, and strengthening the mind and body. And it can also be combined with your exercise regime to create an excellent fitness workout.
Anyone can do yoga, but it’s a good idea to first learn all the basics to have a better appreciation of how it goes well beyond a simple physical practice. Here are five tips for beginners (and all levels) to fully immerse in the essence of yoga:
1. Yoga is a Personal Journey –No Judgments, No Pressure
In yoga, you have to go with the flow. You should follow your instructor but you also need to have a firm grasp on your body’s limitations. Vinyasa Yoga’s founder Baron Baptiste suggests adapting your movements based on your current level. This will help you feel more comfortable in a certain pose and avoid injuries.
When you are new to yoga, don’t worry about performing the pose perfectly. Keep this in mind –yoga is a personal journey and you control the pace.
If a pose is too demanding, you can always assume the child’s pose. You can always start following the class when you are ready.
Finding one move too hard can be frustrating. Don’t let negative thoughts pull you back.
It’s normal for your body to reach the limit when you are still new. Even if sessions are grueling, sitting through the hall and taking in the lesson is better than leaving class in the middle of a session.
2. Focus on Your Breathing
Have you ever heard taking 10 breaths or less in a minute will make you live to be a hundred?
Studies reveal that taking ten breaths or less in one minute could increase the oxygen in your cells. This means you become more energetic and active.
Yasodhara Ashram founder, Swami Sivananda once said that a yogi measures life “by the number of breaths, not by the number of years.”
Controlled breathing is central to yoga. In yoga training, you will hear several instructions on how to manage your breath. All yogis need to understand how important breathing is in yoga. Achieving a relaxed but alert state of mind is only possible when you master the proper way to breathe.
Conscious breathing is the key to tapping your inner energy in yoga. Through this technique, yogis can enter different levels of consciousness. More than just a spiritual experience, conscious breathing has positive effects on your physical, mental, and emotional disposition too.
3. Learn Basic Yoga Lingo
The yoga studio is an entirely different world with its own language. The best way to prepare is to familiarize the basic lingo.
Here are the most important terms in yoga and what they mean.
At the beginning and end of each yoga session, you will chant “ahh,” “oooh,” and “mmm.” These three syllables represent creation, maintenance, and destruction –together they are simply referred to as om.
Om is also the distinctive shape recognized among yoga enthusiasts –a dot on top of a slash and the number three with a tail underneath.
When chanted together, the blend of voices makes the purpose of om clearer –harmony, wholeness, and the completion of a cycle.
This term simply means breathing technique. As mentioned above, breathing plays a central role in any yoga session.
There are different breathing techniques in yoga but the most common is Ujayii. This is a prolonged breathing technique where each breath is intentional and full.
This Sanskrit term pronounced as “Nah Mah Stay” means honoring your fellow yogis. A loose translation of Namaste is "I bow to the divine in you."
This term is often uttered at the end of the class when you sit on the mat and close your eyes. Then, you bring your palms together at chest level.
When you bow your head towards your heart, you say “Namaste.” This means honoring yourself, the people surrounding you, and the art of yoga.
This term literally translates to corpse pose. This is also the final posture in most yoga sessions.
Here, you need to lie on your back in a state of active rest. You are practically doing nothing (like a corpse).
For new practitioners, this is also the perfect time to empty your thoughts. In Savasana, you train your mind to enjoy the stillness of the moment.
4. When in the Yoga Studio, Silence is Golden
A yoga studio is a place for meditation. You need to observe silence throughout the session. This means chatting is a big no-no when you are inside. You also need to put your mobile device on silent mode.
Silence can be awkward at first -this is normal. Ultimately, you will get used to the mood in the yoga studio.
When the practice starts, you need your full concentration to tap into your inner self. You should also slow down your mind so you can get into the mood right away.
One yoga instructor, Cyndi Lee, has the perfect words to describe the value of silence during yoga sessions:
"When people come to [do] yoga, they come to empty. If the teacher is filling up too much space with talking, too much music, or too many stimuli, it makes it difficult for people to empty."
To help you feel more comfortable with the silence during yoga class, meditate before leaving your house. Remember, yoga sessions are all about inner silence, too much noise and distraction defeat the purpose.
5. Grab a Light Snack and Stay Hydrated
Yoga will require you to adhere to a certain eating pattern. You should attend yoga classes on an empty stomach. It’s normal to feel nauseous during yoga sessions. But you might feel extreme nausea when you are at a yoga class on a full stomach.
Ideally, you should stop eating three to five hours before your class. As a general rule of thumb, your digestion should be completed when you step inside the yoga studio.
Remember, yoga opens up the body’s energy channels for a smooth flow. Digestion uses up a lot of energy and it can impede your moves to be fluid.
A similar rule applies to your water consumption. Thirty minutes before the class starts, take only small sips if you feel thirsty. To avoid dehydration, one yogi suggests drinking 32 ounces of pure, clean water at room temperature when you wake up and half an hour before a hot yoga class. For regular yoga, aim for at least eight ounces, 30 minutes before the session.
Avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks.
Headaches can help you determine if you are drinking enough water. If you get a headache after yoga, you are probably dehydrated.
Now It’s Your Turn
When your mind is in a state of chaos, so is your body. You need to take time off from all your worries and just enjoy the silence in your head.
Try pairing yoga up with a vegan bodybuilding diet to align yourself with the yogic ways of living and get into a great shape.
Now you know it. If you want to fully immerse in a yogi’s lifestyle, start with these five tips!
Getting ready for your first yoga class? Check out the 5 dos and don’ts of your first yoga session!
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