Yoga is an ancient practice for building mental and physical strength. Different training programs come and go, but no other workout program is as enduring as yoga.
During the past decades, interest in practicing modern versions of yoga has skyrocketed. Due to its remarkable physical and psychological benefits, a lot of fitness enthusiasts have started practicing yoga.
An exercise that seems to consist of stretching and breathing is a solution to many other problems and people are curious to experience it.
As a beginner to yoga, you might have a lot of questions rushing into your mind. Yoga is not just a form of exercise; it opens up a new dimension of life for you.
In the words of the famous yogi Sri Sri; Yoga is not just doing some exercise, it’s much more to that. It’s to expand your awareness, sharpen your intellect and enhance your intuitive ability.
Table of Contents
- Why Beginners Should Do Yoga?
- Health and Mental Benefits Of Yoga
- Improves strength, balance, and flexibility
- Decrease Stress and Anxiety
- Improves Quality of Sleep
- Achieve Your Dream Body
- Things to Know Before Starting Yoga
- The Right Clothes and Accessories
- Importance of Breathing Exercises
- Do Not Compare
- Do Not Force a Position
- Best Yoga Poses (Asanas) for Beginners
- Benefits of Different Forms of Yoga
Here we will be discussing some of the best forms that you can practice as a beginner to yoga.
Why Beginners Should Do Yoga?
You might have heard that for doing yoga you need to be extremely flexible, if you have any pain in joints or less muscular strength then don’t enroll yourself in a yoga class.
These assumptions are pointless and there is no single reason that you should not join yoga classes as a beginner.
Almost all of the most amazing gymnasts and yoga practitioners start from the point when you can’t even touch your toes while standing.
Yoga is not about stretching your legs behind your neck or holding a position for hours.
The literal meaning of yoga is ‘to unite’. And, it’s a process of uniting your body, soul, and breathing.
Don’t be confused by the opinions of different people regarding yoga, if you have decided to start then just go with it.
If there had been any problems with it then people wouldn’t have practiced it for more than 50 centuries.
Health and Mental Benefits
All the exercises such as running, weight training, boxing, etc. provide plenty of health benefits. But, among all these sports yoga is proven for providing the highest mental benefits.
Improves strength, balance, and flexibility
Through regular stretching of muscles and joints, your overall body strength is improved. Holding a specific pose for a long time causes the compaction of muscle fibers.
This results in the burning of fat cells and replacing them with muscle mass. The repetition of poses several times increases the blood flow and helps you in improving balance over time.
Decrease Stress and Anxiety
Yoga is best known for its ability to ease stress and promote positive thinking. Studies have proven that it decreases the production of cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone.
It helps you to focus on the present moment and find peace within your surroundings. This is very helpful in treating anxiety.
Cortisol influences the levels of serotonin in our body, Serotonin is the neurotransmitter associated with depression.
As yoga decreases cortisol production, it also helps us to fight depression in the long term.
Improves Quality of Sleep
Poor sleep quality is associated with a wide range of health and mental disorders. Obesity, high blood pressure, stress are some of those.
These disorders are known to disrupt melatonin. Studies have shown positive impacts on the production of melatonin, this helps in improving sleep quality.
Achieve Your Dream Body
Yoga might not be considered as an aerobic exercise but, some forms of yoga greatly challenge your physical strength.
These yoga forms are known as power yoga. They help in toning your muscles, you might notice that your muscles start to develop more definition.
While doing yoga, your body moves in a variety of directions. This helps in mobilizing your muscles and joints.
As you hold poses for longer periods, it effectively develops muscle endurance. Yoga also promotes your metabolism, a person having fast metabolism can’t gain fat easily.
Things to Know Before Starting Yoga
When you are a beginner any new form of exercise could be confusing to you. But as you step into a yoga studio for the first time, the scene of people in unusual positions could bewilder you.
Before heading to the studio, you might also have questions like what to wear, what should I eat before a class, and what to bring to class.
Well, here is everything that you should know before starting yoga on your own or at a studio.
The Right Clothes and Accessories
Well, you don’t need to hit the studio in a designer dress and not even in your regular sleeping pajamas.
You need to have comfortable and performing yoga gear. There are many different styles of yoga pants that don’t sacrifice fashion and allow you to stretch comfortably.
You don’t need shoes for yoga because it is done barefoot. But if you feel uncomfortable barefoot then you can get those special yoga socks to prevent you from slipping.
Make sure that you are wearing some comfortable tops, it is a good idea to go for the ideal compression shorts because they increase your flexibility.
While buying your yoga gear, make sure that it is flexible and fits according to your body. Because you are more likely to lose some fat around your body due to which the clothes might get loose.
There are considerations to make if you are going for the hot yoga class. You can’t wear long shirts and trousers there because it will trap your sweat.
A good idea is to wear shorts for going to a hot yoga class.
Before heading to your first class ask the instructor whether you have to bring a mat or not. If you don’t have a mat don’t worry because most of the yoga studios rent the mat for around a dollar.
But once you have decided that you want to continue doing yoga then you should get a high-quality mat. You should always buy a top-quality mat that offers good traction and long-term durability.
Don’t forget your water bottle and towel especially if you are going for a hot yoga class.
Importance of Breathing Exercises
There is a wide range of breathing exercises to prepare you for yoga. They are very important because proper breathing techniques are fundamental in yoga.
Maintaining consistent breathing is the essence of yoga. It helps us to connect with the energy in ourselves.
This phenomenon is known as ‘conscious breathing’ in the world of yoga. It means that your mind focuses every time you inhale and exhale.
Your body should be in sync with your breathing. Researches have shown positive biological effects on our mental and physical state through conscious breathing.
Breathing exercises are crucial for practicing Kundalini yoga. It is believed that the right and left nostril separately contribute to the flow of energy.
Do Not Compare
Everyone is a beginner at some point in their journey of yoga. As a beginner, it is easy to be demotivated when you compare yourself with someone who is more experienced than you.
You might see some people at the studio practicing splits, or putting themselves in extremely flexible positions.
They made it possible due to years of practice. Comparisons can steal your focus, as a beginner, your eyes could be traveling a million different places when you start comparing to others.
Yoga is not a competition; you are here to be a part of a supportive community. It’s not like running where you have to finish the race first.
You will learn constantly in your yoga journey, there is no finish line that you can reach to become a champion of yoga, there is no such thing when practicing yoga.
Do Not Force a Position
Leave your ego at the door of the yoga studio. You won’t be so flexible physically when starting yoga as a beginner.
It is essential that you properly understand how to safely adapt poses. Don’t rush yourself into doing the headstand or crow pose after a few days at the studio.
Good things always take time, start from the basic poses and you will be able to execute those difficult poses gradually.
Forcing yourself into a position as a beginner would only increase your chances of injury.
Best Yoga Poses (Asanas) for Beginners
So, now it’s time to roll out your yoga mats because we will be discussing some of the best yoga positions for beginners.
This is the simplest pose in yoga, it might not look like that much but it comes along with plenty of benefits.
It is beneficial for improving your posture, mountain pose can help you deal with spinal pain and relieve muscle soreness in your neck.
This can effectively help to strengthen the muscles of your legs and abs. If you can't hold this pose properly then you will be feeling that burn in your quads and core.
Researchers have found that it can be healthy for your digestive tract. It is also beneficial for improving your balance.
How to Do It
Stand up tall by keeping your feet as close as possible.
Press your heels and toes into the floor.
Rotate your thighs inwards while keeping your quads engaged.
Roll your shoulders up and back while taking a deep breath.
Release the shoulders and hold this position.
If you can’t maintain balance then keep your feet hip-width apart.
Bend your knees if you feel that there is too much pressure on them.
When you can do this pose with perfection, try doing it with your eyes closed.
Downward Dog Pose
The downward dog pose is an effective full-body stretch. It helps to fully stretch your hamstrings and calves.
During this position, the weight of your lower body is on your shoulders and arms so you can strengthen your upper body through this pose.
This pose is very beneficial for improving the blood flow as your heart is above the head level in this position. Due to the gravitational pull, your blood flow is increased.
How to Do It
Start on the floor, press your hands against the mat keeping them about 3 inches ahead of your shoulders.
Your wrist creases should be parallel to the front edge of the mat.
Press down with your fingertips and keep your knuckles grounded.
Inhale and tuck your toes under, now exhale and push your hips back up.
With every exhale, lift your hips as high as you can while sticking your hands and feet to the mat.
You can also bend the knees one by one to engage the hamstrings more effectively.
We know that you are not a child but you might feel good to act like one ever so often. That’s why we have added this position to our list.
This position is great for stretching your upper body and the lower back. The child’s pose effectively stretches your spine, arms, back muscles, and hips.
When it is combined with breathing exercises, the child’s pose relaxes your mind while reducing anxiety and stress.
In this position, the blood flow towards your head is greatly increased.
How to Do It
Kneel on the mat on your knees, keeping your back straight and knees separated to hip-width.
Lower your chest towards your thighs and forehead towards the mat.
Stretch your arms out, palms down against the mat.
Hold this pose for 20 seconds and keep breathing deeply.
- Keep a pillow between your knees and in front of your head to achieve this position easily.
This position is often practiced by females due to its great health benefits. It strengthens your spine through the process of elongation.
The cobra pose is beneficial for the male and female reproductive systems. It also helps in dealing with irregular menstrual cycles in females.
It also gives a radiant glow to your face due to the improved blood flow towards your face.
How to Do It
Lie down flat with your belly on the mat, stretch your legs back with your toes out on the floor.
Press your feet and thighs firmly into the floor.
Press your palms into the floor and straighten to lift your chest off the floor.
You should only lift till your navel region, the pelvic region should be in contact with the mat.
Hold this pose for 15 to 20 seconds and breathe softly.
The key point in this exercise is to maintain a slow speed throughout.
Press your legs and feet firmly into the mat but don’t put pressure on your knee caps.
Keep your shoulders relaxed, don’t tense them, and bring them near your ears.
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The bridge pose is very simple yet effective for your chest, shoulders, and spine. It is also helpful in maintaining good cardiovascular health.
This position has proven to stimulate the abdominal organs and thyroid glands to help in digestion and improving metabolism.
How to Do it
Lie with your back on the floor.
Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
Press your feet and on the floor as you lift your hips
Continue lifting your hips as high as you can while sticking your feet and hands-on mat.
Keep this position for 15-20 sec and focus on deep breathing.
Keep your neck straight, turning your neck can cause injury.
As you lift your hips, imagine as if you are pressing your tailbone towards your navel.
This pose is often done by athletes for increasing their flexibility. It has a wide range of physical benefits such as strengthening the gastrointestinal tract and female reproductive system.
This pose helps in dealing with menstrual cramps in females. If you suffer from lower back pain as well as sciatica.
Cat-cow stretch can improve your focus and release tension in your muscles when combined with breathing techniques.
How to Do It
Start with your knees and palms on the mat.
Your hands should be directly under the shoulder and stretched out.
As you inhale, drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, look towards the ceiling. (Cow pose)
Now, as you exhale, draw your stomach towards the spine and curve your back towards the ceiling. (Cat pose)
Repeat this transition 15-20 times.
Let your head drop naturally, don’t force your chin to your chest in a cat pose.
Draw your belly button firmly towards your spine in a cat pose, it increases the abdominal massage.
In cow pose, start the movement from your tailbone and gradually come to your neck.
Warrior Pose II
The warrior II is another simple pose that you can try as a beginner. It helps in strengthening of legs and ankles.
It is also proven to be therapeutic for dealing with infertility, and osteoporosis. This position can also instantly boost your self-esteem.
How to Do It
Start by standing in the mountain pose. (as described above)
Turn your right foot slightly to right and the left foot out to the left at 90 degrees.
Exhale and bend your left knee toward the left ankle, your shin should be perpendicular to the floor.
Stretch your arms against your shoulder blade, parallel to the floor. Don’t lean your torso over the left thigh, both sides of your torso should be equally long.
Stay in this position for about 45 sec.
Benefits of Different Forms of Yoga
There are many different types of yoga and each one of them has different benefits.
Let’s have a look at some famous types of yoga and their major advantages.
This is the most common type of yoga, it covers the aspects of physical strength along with breathing and meditation.
It comprises simple poses that teach you breathing techniques and help your mind relax. This is ideal for a beginner.
It is known for improving your strength and flexibility. It comprises a series of poses and special breathing techniques.
It is recommended for people who want to lose weight and deal with stress.
It consists of a series of poses, they transition into one another throughout the session. It’s ideal for people who are active and want to improve creativity.
The poses joined seamlessly one after the other creates a dynamic pattern that makes Vinyasa stand out from other forms of yoga.
It is commonly known as hot yoga because it is performed in a high-temperature room. This form has 26 poses that are performed in a session.
Bikram yoga is beneficial for people who want to lose weight faster and eliminate toxins from their bodies.
This form uses equipment like blocks and chairs. It aims for the correct alignment of your spine to help you maintain a better posture.
It is beneficial for people who have suffered some accident and have hurt their spine, and also for beginners.
The kundalini yoga is more inclined towards spirituality. It consists of singing, breathing exercises, and poses to boost your inner energy.
This inner energy is believed to be hidden somewhere at the base of your spine. The Kundalini is suggested to someone who wants to escape from stress.
Yogis believe that this form of yoga purifies the blood and strengthens your nervous system.
Unlike other workout regimens, yoga is not something that you only have to perform during the class to get maximum benefits.
When you start practicing yoga, your life adapts to it. Yoga is just like words of wisdom that can change your life immediately.
As a beginner, it’s important to play your cards right and don’t give yourself a hard time while practicing yoga. Don’t worry if you can’t perform those difficult poses, start from basics and you will progress gradually.