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11 Tips for Yoga Beginners

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How often do we figure a person doing the headstand against some picturesque backdrop and say ‘yoga is not for me’? You might want to revisit your thought once you go through these 11 unique beginners’ yoga tips. This is an easy way to initiate your yoga practice and reap the benefits yoga has to offer. Read them and find yourself doing yoga against a picturesque backdrop instead.

Yoga Tips for Beginners

  1. Yoga for Beginners
  2. Yoga A New Dimension to Life
  3. Take the Experts Help to Learn Yoga
  4. Dress Comfortably!
  5. Be a Regular Yogi
  6. Stay Light!
  7. Warm-up before Hitting the Yoga Mat
  8. Smile To Take You through the Miles
  9. Challenge Your Limits – One Step at a Time
  10. Every Yoga Asana Is Unique, Just Like You
  11. Relax to Recharge! - Yoga Tips

1. Yoga for Beginners

As a beginner, often we equate yoga with some tough, limb-twisting poses. And aren't you sometimes concerned that: "I can't even touch my toes, how can I do yoga?" Yoga is not about touching your toes, or stretching 98 degrees to your northeast. It’s a simple process of uniting with yourself - using your breath, body and mind. And it’s easy and effortless.

So, never mind if you're not Ms. Flexible or Mr. Stretchable, or are venturing into yoga at the age of 40, or you have secret love handles that are stressing you out - just remove all those myths before beginning your yoga practice! The only one watching you is yourself - so just relax. This journey will bring much joy and relaxation to you!

2. Yoga A New Dimension to Life

It is best to start learning yoga under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher who can lead you through the correct way of doing each technique. This would help you learn yoga asanas (postures) properly and avoid possible injuries. Some of the philosophies or techniques taught in yoga may be new but it is a good idea to keep an open mind, as it will help broaden your vision and enhance your yoga experience.

3. Take the Experts Help to Learn Yoga 

If you have a medical condition, inform your Sri Sri Yoga instructor prior to the commencement of your yoga training. It will help the teacher customize your yoga asana practice and avoid any complications or injuries.

4. Dress Comfortably!

Wear comfortable clothing while going for the yoga class or when practicing yoga at home. Also, avoid wearing belts or excessive jewelry as it could get in the way of your yoga practice.

5. Be a Regular Yogi

Although it’s best to practice yoga asanas early in the morning, any time of the day is fine till you are regular with your practice. If mornings don’t suit your schedule, don’t let it be an excuse to give up practicing yoga completely!

6. Stay Light!

It is advised to practice on an empty stomach or at least 2-3 hours after your last meal. Also, it’s advised to have at least three to four liters of water during the day as it will help you to flush the toxins that are released during your yoga practice, out of the body.

7. Warm-up before Hitting the Yoga Mat

Sushma Vyayam or gentle warm-up exercises help loosen up the body and prepare it for the yoga asanas coming ahead. Here are a few warm up exercises:

> Massaging the head, brows, nose and cheeks: Whenever we make a mistake, we instinctively place a hand on the head. This is a sign that blood circulation in the brain is less and a massage is needed!
> Rotate your neck, both clockwise and anticlockwise to relieve any stiffness.
> Pump your shoulders and shake those hands to shrug off the lethargy.

8. Smile To Take You through the Miles

Keeping a gentle smile relaxes the body and mind and helps you enjoy the yoga asanas much more. With a calm mind, you can push your body’s limits further and stretch more than usual.

9. Challenge Your Limits – One Step at a Time

The ancient yogic text, Patanjali Yoga Sutra, defines yoga asana as Sthira Sukham Asanam. Do only as much as you comfortably can and then just stretch a bit more (to improve body flexibility). Remember to use the breath as a reference point - when it is light and long, then the muscles begin to relax; but when the breath is jagged or uneven, it means you have over-exerted.

Going slightly beyond your comfort zone will keep the yoga practice interesting and will add a spark of challenge as you progress and adopt new yoga asanas.

10. Every Yoga Asana Is Unique, Just Like You

Wherever you stand in your yoga practice, be happy with it and don’t compare yourself to other students in the yoga class. Remember that each body type is unique and different people are at different levels of expertise. Some might easily perform a particular yoga asana, while others may need a little more time and practice to get there. Therefore, don't feel pressurized and over-exert yourself. Your flexibility and efficiency in doing yoga postures will improve with regular practice.

Do not be alarmed if you experience some soreness in the muscles during the initial days of the practice. But if the pain persists, inform your instructor immediately. The crux here is to be regular with your yoga practice and have patience. Just like any other discipline, it will take some time for the body to get used to the yoga asanas.

11. Relax to Recharge! - Yoga Tips

As you complete your yoga asana practice, don't be in a great hurry to get up and start moving about with the tasks lined up for the day. It is a good idea to lie down in Yoga Nidra for a few minutes, as it helps cool down the body and consolidate the energy produced through yoga asana practice. Yoga Nidra is also beneficial in completely relaxing the mind and body after the yoga workout.

You will be able to experience the subtler and deeper benefits of yoga in due time only if you stay regular with your practice. Yoga encompasses yoga asanas, timeless ancient philosophy, pranayamas (breathing techniques) and meditations, which take you beyond the body level, offering a deeper spiritual experience.

Your body is like the wick of a candle and the mind is like the glow all around it. It is the "Prana" or life force in us that nourishes the mind and keeps the body alive. "Pranayama" means working in the dimension of "prana".

The Prana creates an aura around the body. Every problem first generates in the subtle and then surfaces on the physical level. Sickness shows up in your Prana (Pranic Body) much before you get sick physically. Pranayama clears the whole energy around you, expands your aura and heightens the spirit. It brings clarity to the mind and good health to the body.

So, give yourself some of your valuable time and be patient for the results that will make you more flexible, healthy, calm, efficient and zealous. Happy practicing yogis!

posted Jun 3 by Mahendra.h.s

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A little over a year ago I began a strength training program. After bilateral hip replacements, and the years of dysfunction that led up to them, I needed to regain strength. I'm now working out with weights at least once a week on my own. It feels good and has improved my strength and agility by miles.

I've begun tweaking my workouts recently to include a longer stretching period after my workout. As I expected, making my cool-down period more like a mini-yoga practice has benefits far beyond simple stretching. After I finish my workout now, my mind is clear, smooth and alert—like after a yoga practice. Who would have thought?

6 Yoga Poses for Cooling Down

Of course, there are lots of yoga poses for cooling down after a weight-training session. What you choose can depend on the focus of your weight training. Below are the poses I’ve found to be helpful. Bring along a yoga mat, a yoga strap and an eyebag, and make sure you approach your practice with an attitude of ease rather than one of aggression. Keep your breathing long, slow and relaxed.

  1. UnwindAdho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) is a great way to begin the unwinding process. Begin your Dog Pose by moving around—twisting, flexing and extending your spine and moving through all your joints. The intention here is to “liquefy” your joints and soft tissues before stretching. Downward Facing Dog Pose is the perfect transition pose for moving into stretching.
  2. Stretch Your Quads: There are a number of ways to stretch the quads. My favorite way is to practice Supta Ardha Virasana (Supine Half Hero’s Pose). However, this pose can be out of reach for people whose knees don’t flex all that far. If this is the case, simply flip over onto your belly. Lie flat on your abdomen and then bend one of your knees. Reach back and grab your foot and draw the foot in toward your body to stretch the quads. You can use your yoga strap if your hand doesn’t reach your foot.
  3. Stretch Your HamstringsSupta Padangusthasana (Supine Big Toe Pose) is a classic way to release hamstring tightness after a workout. Be sure to place a strap around your foot so that you can keep the rest of your body in a supine Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
  4. Stretch Your Outer ThighsSupta Ardha Padmasana (Supine Half Lotus Pose) is a great way to release tension in the glutes and outer thighs. Make sure to keep your shoulders relaxed as you draw your legs toward your torso.
  5. TwistJathara Parivrttanasana (Revolved Belly Pose) is a great way to further release tension in the shoulders and core. Be sure to breathe deeply into your abdomen as you relax into the pose.
  6. Let It All Go: As with any asana practice, Savasana (Relaxation Pose) helps smooth out agitation and help you integrate your practice. Give yourself at least 5 minutes. I’ve found 10 minutes to be the minimum amount of time my body needs to benefit from Savasana after a workout. The lights in most gyms and weight rooms are pretty harsh. An eyebag makes a big difference.
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It was when I started to practice at home that my relationship to yoga changed. It went from something that I did in class to an experience that was profoundly personal, and an integral part of the way I lived. At first, I was unsure of what to do and whether I was doing it right, but I soon realized that the uncertainty is part of the process. It was in practicing just for me, without seeking the approval or validation of anyone else, that I fully understood what people mean when that say that it's "your" yoga practice. 

My advice to you is to keep it simple at first and get used to how it feels to practice on your own. Here are seven poses I recommend starting with.

1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Stand with your feet parallel, either together or hip-width apart. Spread your weight evenly across the soles of your feet and lengthen your spine, as if you’re being pulled up by the crown of your head.  There are few poses more centering and strengthening than mountain pose. For added challenge, close your eyes and feel all the micro-adjustments your body makes just to keep you upright. 

 

2. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

From tadasana, bend your knees, taking your hips back and lengthening your tailbone toward the ground. Reach both arms up and overhead. 

In utkatasana, you are cultivating a feeling of reaching up and finding strength and space at the same time as being pushed down and grounded by your lower body. As well as being a powerful lower body strengthener, it is a great place to tune into your own resilience and mental fortitude.

3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)

Fold your body forward over your legs, keeping feet hip-width apart. Resist the temptation to shift your hips back, instead keeping weight in the balls of your feet. Scoop your lower belly in and up to find more space and support for the back of your body. 

This can be a powerful and intense stretch for the hamstrings and back. Take it gently, especially at first; and to soften the pose, bend your knees, allowing your torso to rest on your thighs. 

4. Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon Pose)

Come into a lunge with the front knee bent, knee stacked over ankle, and the back leg straight with knee lifted. Reach the arms up, bringing the palms together and taking your gaze to your thumbs. To go deeper, lengthen the front of your body to arch into a gentle backbend. Hold for five breaths. 

This is a great pose for releasing the abdominal muscles and hip flexors. It helps you to feel more energized and present, and can support you to cultivate feelings of love and gratitude. 

5. Natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose)

From a standing position, reach back with your right hand and lift your right foot, taking hold of the inside of your foot. Reach your left arm up, then press the right foot into your hand to help you to open into a backbend. Allow yourself to pivot forward, reaching the torso and your left arm out in front of you. 

This beautiful pose is a graceful way to open the front of your body, strengthen your legs and improve your balance. If you are struggling, you can loop a belt around your foot. (To help, here are 6 Tips to Maintaining Balance on the Mat.)

6. Upavistha Konasana (Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold)

From a seated position, take your legs apart to a wide angle. Then lift both arms up and hinge forward from your hips, taking your chest toward the ground. At the point you feel the stretch and opening, hold here, supporting yourself on hands, forearms or a bolster.

With every inhalation here, find more length in your spine; and with every exhalation, release and soften toward the ground. This is a powerful hip and inner groin opener, and can be intense for tight hamstrings, so go gently. 

7. (Happy Baby Pose)

Lie on your back, lifting your feet like you are squatting on the ceiling. Hold the outsides of your feet, letting your knees come down toward the sides of your body. Lengthen your tailbone down and deepen your breaths

Happy baby pose is the ultimate stress reliever. It opens the hips in a gorgeously supported way, releases the lower back, and helps you to calm your body and mind. To maximize its benefits, get playful, rocking side to side to massage your lower back. 

There's No Place Like Home

Finally, remember that the advantage of home practice is that you are free to set the pace. Tune into what your body needs, adapt to and respond to it. And if you want to spend a bit longer in a pose, do! You're in the driver's seat here. Enjoy and, most importantly keep practicing!

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