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How to do Yoga

Yoga Asana

Yoga Asana

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Yoga is an ancient set of beliefs in the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions that strives towards spiritual discipline. 1 In the West, yoga is less understood for its spiritual component and more commonly known as a physical workout of specific poses, or asanas. Yoga has a variety of applications and philosophies, including strengthening, relaxing, energizing, and stretching our bodies and minds. Any person can practice yoga, from Asana practice to meditation and breathing.

Getting Started with Yoga

Establish goals for your yoga practice. Before starting yoga, it can help to figure out why you want to practice. Yoga can be a method of physical exercise, a way to reduce and manage stress, a means of healing an illness or injury, or a path to spiritual fulfillment and peace.

  • Think about which components of wellness you want to work on, such as strength, flexibility, stamina, anxiety, and depression. You might also want to practice for your general well-being.
  • Consider writing down your goals for your practice. Update your goals frequently and add new goals to keep yourself challenged. For example, you could have a goal such as “practice more often” or “I want to master Lolasana.”

Be aware that there is no such thing as “good” or “right” yoga. There are different styles and ways to practice yoga and there will always be more experienced yoga practitioners than you. It’s important to remember that yoga is neither a competition nor a traditional sport, but a personal practice of mindfulness, relaxation, and physicality that is meant to enrich your life and body. 

  • Practice keeping an open mind and non-judgmental attitude. Instead of thinking, “I’m not flexible, I’ll be bad at yoga,” realize that “Yoga will help me improve my flexibility.”
  • It can take some time to find a specific style or school of yoga you enjoy. Similarly, finding the right teacher for you and your goals can take some trial and error.
  • Anyone can practice and benefit from yoga. Integrating yoga into your routine can help improve your physical and mental health, even if you only practice for 10 minutes a day.
  • Remember that there is no competition in yoga. Every person has different abilities and the goal of yoga is to focus on yourself, not what others are doing.

Gather the equipment you will need to practice. At a minimum, you will need a yoga mat. Consider having props such as a yoga belt, yoga block, and a large blanket or bolster, too. These pieces of equipment can help improve and deepen your yoga practice as well as making it more comfortable.

  • You can buy mats and props at sporting goods stores, yoga studios, or at online yoga retailers.

Wear breathable, loose clothing. You’ll want clothing that is comfortable and breaths easily. This can help you better achieve a full range of motion and flexibility and also keep you from tugging at overly tight clothing.

  • As you try more complex poses you may want tighter pants and shirts that won’t fall or move, distracting you in the process.
  • You don’t necessarily need special yoga clothing, but try wearing something comfortable that isn’t too tight. Women can wear leggings, a tank top, and a sports bra. Men can wear a pair of athletic shorts and a t-shirt.
  • If you are doing Bikram yoga, which takes place in a heated room, or athletically intense yoga such as Jivamukti, make sure to wear light, breathable clothing that absorbs sweat.

Find a comfortable place to practice. If you’ve decided to give yoga a try at home before going to a class, find a comfortable and quiet space in which to explore your yoga practice. Make sure you’ve got plenty of room to move and some way to close yourself off to the outside world.

  • You’ll need a few inches on each side of your mat so that you don’t run into a wall or anything else.
  • Make sure the place you practice is quiet and calm so that no one can disturb your focus. You’ll also want someplace that is comfortable: a humid and chilly basement may not be the best option, for example.

Warm up with sun salutation. Yoga can be quite active, so it is important to warm up your body properly. Doing a few rounds of sun salutations, or Surya Namaskar, can effectively prepare your muscles and mind to practice yoga.

  • There are three different variations of sun salutations. Do 2-3 rounds of Surya Namaskar A, B, and C to warm up. These different sun salutations can engage and condition your muscles and can help ensure a safe and more pliable practice.

Learn a few yoga asanas. There are a wide variety of yoga poses, or asanas, that one can practice and they range from difficult and strenuous to simple and relaxing. Start your yoga practice by learning a few asanas that you can enjoy, feel comfortable executing, and which also fit your yoga goals.

  • There are four different types of yoga poses: standing poses, inversions, backbends, and forward bends. Try one or two from each type to balance your practice.
  • Forward bends include seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana) and star pose (Tarasana).
  • You can add a twisting asana to neutralize and stretch your spine between backbends and forward bends if you like. Twisting poses include Bharadvaja’s twist (Bharadvajasana) or half lord of the fishes pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana).
  • Standing poses include mountain pose (Tadasana), tree pose (Vrksasana), and the Warrior Series (Virabhadrasana I, II, and III).
  • Hold each asana for 3-5 breaths.
  • Inversions include handstand (Mukha Vrksasana) and headstand (Salamba Sirsasana.
    – Backbends include locust pose (Salabhasana), cobra pose (Bhujangasana), and bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana).
  • End your practice in corpse pose (Savasana), which can help you enjoy the benefits of your yoga session.
  • Always balance out asanas that favor one side by doing them on the opposite side. – WikiHow has an excellent series of video tutorials for beginners here, and you can find thousands of poses online with a simple internet search.

Learn a few yoga asanas. There are a wide variety of yoga poses, or asanas, that one can practice and they range from difficult and strenuous to simple and relaxing. Start your yoga practice by learning a few asanas that you can enjoy, feel comfortable executing, and which also fit your yoga goals.

  • You can add a twisting asana to neutralize and stretch your spine between backbends and forward bends if you like. Twisting poses include Bharadvaja’s twist (Bharadvajasana) or half lord of the fishes pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana).
  • Inversions include handstand (Mukha Vrksasana) and headstand (Salamba Sirsasana.)
  • End your practice in corpse pose (Savasana), which can help you enjoy the benefits of your yoga session.
  • Hold each asana for 3-5 breaths.
  • Standing poses include mountain pose (Tadasana), tree pose (Vrksasana), and the Warrior Series (Virabhadrasana I, II, and III).
  • Forward bends include seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana) and star pose (Tarasana).
  • Backbends include locust pose (Salabhasana), cobra pose (Bhujangasana), and bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana).
  • There are four different types of yoga poses: standing poses, inversions, backbends, and forward bends. Try one or two from each type to balance your practice.
  • Always balance out asanas that favor one side by doing them on the opposite side.

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