how to do yoga for beginners

When it comes to how to do yoga, it is important to understand the basic concepts and purpose of yoga. Nearly every culture and religion have some type of meditative practice for mental clarity and relaxation.

Yoga, originating in India thousands of years ago, connects that elevated mental state with the strengthening of the physical body.

Yoga has been used to treat a wide variety of mental and physical problems. Yoga can alleviate pain, tone and strengthen muscles, relieve symptoms of arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome.

Yoga is excellent for treating migraines, stress, tension, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. For those who need to feel better physically and mentally and also want a way to bring peace and balance to their lives, yoga just may be the answer.

Getting Started

To get started practicing yoga, it is always best to make sure you are physically fit enough to do so safely. When learning how to do yoga, do your research first. Attend a class or follow along with an instructor in the privacy of your own home.

Get some guidance to be sure you are doing the poses properly to avoid injury and try easy poses first, gently moving to harder poses and extending the amount of time you hold them.

Master your breathing techniques, as this is a vital component of how to do yoga. Even and steady breathing as you hold a pose will allow you to find balance and calm.

You must have the proper place to begin. With yoga, there are no real requirements other than a quiet, calm place that you can spread out comfortably in. You want minimal disturbances or distractions. Wear loose-fitting clothing that will allow you to stretch without any confinement of your arms or legs.

You may want to invest in a yoga mat. A mat will give you the proper footing to hold poses without fear of slipping. Basically, you can do yoga anywhere and with very little financial investment.

Unlike other exercise styles, there is no fancy equipment or special shoes to buy. Yoga is about being aware of your mind and body, not what is on your body.

When learning how to do yoga, do not push for quick results. You have to know your body well enough to know your limits. This is why it is recommended you take or observe a class first.

You will be confident of your technique and can hold poses longer and sturdier as you practice them. Remember, yoga should never feel painful. It is supposed to bring you a sense of peace and balance, not sore muscles.

Beginner Poses

There are many simple poses you will want to initially try when you are first learning how to do yoga, even yoga for children. The Lotus Pose is sitting on the floor with your feet under your knees. You sit straight and breathe in for 6 counts and hold for 9 counts.

Then, exhale. Corpse Pose involves lying on the floor, on your back, with your palms up. This is ideal for relaxation. Poses like bridge pose and bow pose both strengthen the spine and back muscles. Cobra pose helps with spinal flexibility and also strengthens arm muscles.

Seated Forward Bend Pose strengthens and stretches hamstrings and the shoulders. These are beginner poses that can yield wonderful results if you apply proper breathing as you do them.

Learning how to do yoga can take you on a journey to self-awareness that grows more as you do it. Each time you practice yoga techniques and poses, you will find yourself more flexible, stronger and more balanced inside and out.

Four Basic Yoga Breathing Techniques

1. Dirgha Pranayama – (prolonged breathing)

It’s important, right from the beginning, to learn to breathe deeply and slowly in a controlled manner. This is known as dirgha pranayama (or simply, long or prolonged breathing).

The greatest amount of prana is absorbed by the nerve endings which line the lungs. Shallow breathing limits the amount of absorption and therefore is a major cause of many of the chronic health problems that people face. The re-establishment of deep, full breathing is so important to re-gaining and maintaining good health.

  • Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and spine straight
  • Allow yourself to breathe naturally for a few minutes, letting go of any tension in your body and calming your mind.
  • In the beginning, breathe in and out deeply through the nose several times to ventilate the air that might have been stagnating in the respiratory tracts.
  • After several ventilating breaths, exhale the air through the mouth, trying to empty the lungs. Maintain the empty lungs for a moment, without straining or forcing yourself.
  • Inhale slowly and uniformly through the nose, filling your lungs with as much air as possible. Hold your breath with your lungs filled with air for a moment, but again do not force yourself to hold it for too long. In time, you will manage to hold your breath for longer intervals.
  • Slowly and uniformly exhale through the mouth, avoiding an explosive elimination of the air.Do every step in a controlled and calm manner

    .

  • Relax and take a few comfortable breaths in your own rhythm, and then try again a little deeper, as described above.
  • Again relax your breath for a few rounds when you feel the urge to do so.When complete, lie down (in Shava Asana) and breathe in a relaxed fashion, inhaling and exhaling only through the nose now. Allow your body to let go of all tension, while at the same time just keeping your attention on your breath without trying to affect or direct it in any way. Try to maintain your attention for at least 5 minutes before allowing yourself to let go of all efforts and relax completely.

2. Sukha Pranayama – the easy breath

  • Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and spine straight
  • Allow yourself to breathe naturally for a few minutes, letting go of any tension in your body and calming your mind.
  • When you feel at ease, begin inhaling and exhaling deeply and slowly, counting to 6 (roughly 6 seconds) during the inhalation, and likewise, 6 counts for the exhalation.
  • Perform 6 to 10 rounds of this breath and then allow yourself to relax and breathe in a calm manner.
  • After a few moments, perform another 6 to 10 rounds of the sukha breathing rhythm.
  • Finish by lying down for 5 to 10 minutes, relaxing the breath and letting go of all tension.
  • After a few days, begin to increase the duration of practice, breathing in the sukha rhythm (6-count in and 6-count out) eventually up to 5 minutes at a time.

3. Sukha Purvaka Pranayama – easy breath before proceeding

In this yoga breathing technique, we are introduced to the four distinct stages (or functions) of the breath:

  1. The inhalation (puraka)
  2. The held-in breath (kumbhaka)
  3. The exhalation (rechaka)
  4. The held-out breath (shunyaka)
  • Again, sit comfortably with your eyes closed and spine straight.
  • Allow yourself to breathe naturally for a few minutes, letting go of any tension in your body and calming your mind.
  • In this yoga breathing technique, breathing happens only through the nose.

4. Vyaghrah Pranayama (the tiger breath)

A wonderful yoga breathing technique to help open up the lungs and improve breathing capacity is the vyaghrah pranayama, the ‘tiger-breath’.

  • Inhale (to a 6-count) while slowly lowering the abdomen toward the floor and raising the head, neck, and chin skyward into a nice backbend.
  • Exhale (again to a 6-count) and slowly lower the head, drawing your chin in towards the chest, while at the same time pushing firmly with the arms and raising the back into a nice high arch.
  • Repeat this movement with the corresponding breath 3 to 6 times.
    Relax for a few breaths and then repeat another round of 6 to 9 repetitions.
  • Finish by lying down for 5 to 10 minutes, relaxing the breath and letting go of all tension.

Yoga Practice Tips

Achieving the best possible results with yoga relies on you being both dedicated to regular practice and having the ability to overcome any obstacles or difficulties you may face in the course of your training.

Following the correct practices thoroughly will result in the best outcome for you and your body. It is best to find motivation within yourself to dedicate yourself to a particular yoga path, and then apply yourself to it using either class, books or any other yoga aid you may have purchased.

Simple techniques, such as meditation and basic postures can be picked up easily, however for more difficult or demanding areas of yoga it is best to establish good habits and correct practices early on since bad habits can be harder to break the longer you continue with what you’ve learned. It is best to practice yoga daily so you become accommodated to it until it becomes almost second nature.

Firstly, however, you must be sure you can find the dedication and motivation within yourself to embark on your yoga journey. Completing this step first will ensure a higher success rate and continued growth with your yoga experience. Be sure in your mind and heart that yoga really is important to you.

The next step is to set a goal and devise your strategy for achieving it. Make a schedule for when and where you wish to practice yoga, and stick to it.

Try and be realistic in your planning and make the target achievable. Plan your yoga sessions around times when there are little distractions so you can keep good focus throughout.

Finally, be patient and understanding with yourself. Sometimes you may slip from your plan. If this happens don’t let it ruin your motivation, instead just resume your plan as normal.

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