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Yoga: What It Actually Is & Where To Start

Yoga is a widespread practice that combines meditation, movement, and breathing. Since its global recognition, it has been praised for its wide-ranging spiritual and physical benefits. However, yoga is more than just a spiritual discipline. 


Essentially, yoga is an ancient practice with a combination of physical postures (Asanas), meditation (Dyana), concentration, and breathing techniques (Pranayama). Originating in India, it improves mental and physical health. Initially, yoga appeared in a collection of ancient texts, Rig Veda. Yoga originated from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’, which means ‘to join’ or ‘union’. As a practice, yoga helps connect the body, mind, and spirit.  


Modern yoga centers on postures designed to restore physical energy and inner peace. There are various forms of yoga, from physically demanding practices to gentle ones. From improving general wellness to relieving low-back pain, all types of yoga offer several health benefits.


In addition to physical benefits, yoga helps you become more forgiving, accepting, and aware of yourself. Other benefits of yoga include:


  • Helps overcome obesity and lose weight 

  • Relieves neck pain and headaches resulting from tension-type pain

  • Improves the overall quality of life 

  • Aids in managing anxiety and stress of everyday life 

  • Promotes better breathing and enhances flexibility 


The best quality of yoga is that you do not have to be a yogini or yogi to reap the benefits. Regardless of your age and weight, yoga has the potential to strengthen the body and the mind. There is no need to be intimidated by yoga’s history and complicated postures, as yoga is for everyone. The poses are the main constituents of yoga. However, you can build a regular yoga practice with some common yoga postures listed below. 


Downward-Facing Dog 


The downward-facing dog asana is the best pose for you to start with if you have back pain. Apart from back pain relief, this posture helps strengthen the calves, hamstrings, and arches of the feet. As a caution, skip this pose if you are in the late stage of pregnancy.


Bridge Pose 


Sometimes we spend most of the day sitting. This yoga asana helps beginners open their upper chest and unwind every tight muscle. In addition, the bridge pose also enhances strength in the hamstring and back muscles. If you have a neck injury, then avoid this pose. 


Child’s Pose 


This yoga pose helps with a gentle stretch through your hips, spine, and neck. Usually, you may want to rest and refocus before advancing to the next posture. This pose is also helpful because it is the best default pause position. You can avoid this pose if you have ankle problems or knee injuries. 


Plank Pose


Plank is a commonly practiced exercise that helps strengthen the legs, arms, shoulders, and core. If you are looking to increase strength in your upper body and tone your abs, then Plank Pose is a good option. However, you can skip it if you have low back pain. 


Four-Limbed Staff 


This asana is a great pose to strengthen your core and arms. It is commonly known as ‘Sun Salutation’. It is a variation of the plank pose and push-up. The four-Limbed Staff posture is a good pose for beginners as it sets a foundation for more advanced poses. 


Tree Pose 


Tree pose is among the best poses to help improve your posture and balance. In addition, it also aids in strengthening the spine, thighs, calves, and ankles. Being a simple pose, it is amongst the first standing balance poses taught to yoga beginners. 


Cobra Pose


This asana is a great way to strengthen the back muscles. In addition, it can also aid in stretching the abdomen, shoulders, and chest, as well as, enhancing the spine's flexibility. However, skipping it if you have a low-back injury or arthritis in the neck or spine is better. 


Beginner’s Class


If you’re unsure about trying these yoga poses on your own, joining a beginner’s class is the best solution. Learning from an expert yoga instructor is a great way to create a regular yoga practice. Various yoga studios offer a wide range of beginner to advanced yoga classes, including Vinyasa, Hatha, Kundalini, Restorative, and many more. 


Taking your first yoga class may seem overwhelming, but it becomes less nerve-wracking if you know what to expect. A standard yoga class is 45 to 90 minutes. Subject to the yoga instructors and their style, a beginner-level yoga class initially focuses on the breath. Furthermore, it is followed by the asanas for most of the course and culminates the session with meditation as a cool down. 


You can begin with Yin Yoga or Detox Yoga to start your journey with yoga. Furthermore, Hatha yoga classes are amongst the best for beginners to start their yoga journey as they are slow-paced compared to other yoga forms.


Hatha yoga emphasizes proper posture and breathing. The only goal here is to attain an awareness of yourself and experience the bliss of being in your body. Surrender to the flow of breath, sound, and movement of your body and mind. 


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Tags: #fitness #meditation #mindfulness #yoga #yogapractice #yogalife #hathayoga


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