Yoga For Beginners: A Reference Guide & How To Get Started
So let’s skip past the introductions — you can find out all over the internet what yoga is, the different types, and the benefits of practicing…like here, here and here. But what we all really want to know (or at least what I wanted to know when I first started) — was HOW exactly do I get started? where do I begin? these crazy poses and these crazy names…what does it all mean?!
But to dot all our I’s and cross all our T’s let just start with the four important things you should know about yoga…
- you do not (technically) need anything to practice yoga.
- yoga can be practiced just about anywhere.
- it’s better to practice yoga on an empty stomach (like in the morning), or allot yourself a couple hours or so after a meal.
- you don’t have to have a “marathon” session — as little as 15minutes can be more than enough!
Now…how does one begin to “practice yoga”…
Personally, I’d highly advise taking a class, getting a dvd, or doing some research on youtube. It is important to hear the poses described to you, what they should and should not look like and what they should and should not feel like. Otherwise, you could run the risk of injuring yourself, especially if you try for more advanced poses too soon. If you don’t know where to begin to find instruction some absolutely wonderful youtube channels for yoga instruction are:
- Yoga Today
- Pure Yoga Channel (has great instruction and even shows 360 views of poses)
- Yoga Channel – Ananda Yoga
- Kino Yoga (excellent instruction and explanation for poses throughout pose practices)
Now that you have familiarized yourself with the breathing and some basics about poses…let’s truly get started with the makings of a basic yoga session (adapted from ABC of Yoga)
- Warm-up Exercises – conditions your body for safe transition into asana practice. For beginners, you may just use the warm-up poses as your entire practice. Warm-up exercises open the shoulder muscles, the spine, the hips, the lower back, and the groin.
- Standing Poses – for alignment of the feet and the body. Opens the hips, stretches the legs, add strength to your back and increases your range of movement. Standing poses facilitates digestion, blood circulation and is good for those who want to lose weight.
- Sitting Poses – sitting poses allows you to infuse with the breath and prana, and to revitalize from a pose by giving you a calm and quiet feeling. These poses greatly contribute in shaping your buttocks and legs, and in adding vitality and suppleness to the spine.
- Twists – twist exercises releases the tension in your spines, relieves backaches and makes your shoulders more flexible. It also facilitates in the circulation of blood and nutrients in the body making it necessary for the health of the inter-vertebral discs.
- Supine and Prone Poses – these poses releases tension in your abdomen and increase the mobility of your spine. It restores strength in your back, arms and legs, and releases your hips and groins.
- Inverted and Balance Poses – inverted and balance poses defies gravity and develops coordination, increase stamina and strength, and improves grace, agility and poise. It also improves you concentration and focus since being quiet is necessary to be able to do these poses.
- Backbends – backbends are the poses that benefit the adrenal glands and the kidney. It also releases tension in the front body and in your shoulders and pelvic girdle, and improves the flexibility of your spine.
- Finishing Poses – these are the cooling-down exercises for Yoga.
Still not sure how to create your own sequence there are a many websites that have slide shows, downloadable images or videos of a simple sequences for beginners. My favorites that I found to be the most helpful are the ones below:
- A Charmed Yogi (Image Sequence)
- Hearts Expanding – Yoga Sequence for Confidence & Strength (Image Sequence)
- Yoga Sequence for Begginers (Video)
- DoYogaWithMe – Beginners Studio (Videos)
…and last but not least essential resources for yoga beginners
“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.”
~ Sharon Gannon