A few pointers for yoga newbies.
Yoga, by definition, is one thing: union, a balance of living. The methods of practice vary—my research and field work included.
Yoga originated in India over 5,000 years ago, inspired by Hinduism and influenced by Buddhism it is a combined practice of spirituality, philosophy and inner peace. Yoga helps us to become more aware, to listen to our bodies, to trust our intuition and to find mental balance. Controlled breathing is the foundation of yoga. According to Yoga Chick, you take in over 20,000 breaths per day.
The benefits of Yoga can be emotional, mental and physical.
Self examination and awareness can help us to achieve a meaningful life by following the four purusharthas also known as the aims of life. Yoga Journal includes them as: Dharma—duty/ethics, Artha—prosperity/weath, Kama—pleasure/gratification and Moksha—the pursuit of freedom.
Yoga increases energy and mood while relieving stress and tension. It builds muscles and strength while making you look and feel good. Controlled breathing increases oxygen, which is known to calm the nervous system. Other benefits include mental relaxation, pain relief, and increased flexibility and muscle toning.
Day class vs. night
The time of day can set a certain tone in the class that you participate in. This is personal preference, what fits your schedule and when you have the energy and right frame of mind.
Studio vs. gym locale and student vs. member
Each may have a different representation of the seriousness of the students. I am thinking a studio is more serious when the student is the one making the time to fit the schedule of the studio. The gym environment is more suited to fit the schedule of the member.
At home studio gyms some people burn candles and incense, while some have photos. Be sure these things will not interfere with your concentration.
Location convenience is usually a big factor in the beginning, but as a student becomes more focused he or she may venture off for the right class. The best way to find a class is to read, watch tapes and then just dive in, adjusting your practice accordingly.
The different instructors
There will also be a different attitude of the instructors based on there areas of study, their training and their yoga experiences. I have been told that most instructors and students want to share the experience with you and will guide you along the way. Others feel that they have been enlightened and hover above the average population, appearing annoyed if you alter the flow of the class with your inabilities.
You should be sure that your class is led by a Registered Yoga Instructor. Check your instructors experience, types of techniques that they have taught, how long they have been teaching and their philosophy. Look for varied background, knowledge of the body’s movement. You may want to find one that does not bring religion into the class, unless that is what you are seeking.
The students in the class
Again, most will want to share the time with you. Yoga is an individual, go at your own pace, kind of practice. You listen to the signals that your body send and limit yourself to what you can do comfortably. However, you will want to feel comfortable in your surrounding so you might want to form a connection with your fellow students.
Yoga words of wisdom that you must know.
Asana-awareness of your body’s posture and gravity during practice
Pratyahara-sensory detachment, meditation
Guru-shows the way; a mentor
Most common poses:
Uttanasana-standing forward bend
Virabhadrasana-warrior I pose
Sukhasana-sitting pose (easy)
Padmasana-lotus sitting, palms up
Adhomukha shvanasa-down facing dog
Type of yoga that best suits me.
The most common practices
Asthanga Yoga–smooth uninterrupted poses as the teacher moves around the room, adjusting the students. This is the more athletic type of yoga.
Bikram Yoga-the hot and sweaty type, requires full concentration in a room of 105 degrees. The objective is to create a fit body/mind with physical and spiritual unity.
Om Yoga-I just liked the name. It is a medium pace with the objective to bring strength and stability while being mindful
Sivanda Yoga– a more spiritual type of practice, the goal is to elevate and transform your inner being.
Hatha Yoga–is considered active and includes relaxing poses.
Vinyasa Yoga– flowing poses with breaths that are eventually synchronized with your movements.
Restorative Yoga–is gaining popularity, it works internally to renew/restore the nervous system.
Prepare for class
Do not eat for 2 hours prior, if needed eat light. Wear loose clothing. Bring a mat. Know your body and its limitations. Be on time and focused. Set reasonable goals for your self. Be patient with your practice it will evolve.
How to access a class
Should feel relaxed both before and after. The body should feel challenged, but with no pain. Follow these guidelines and tips and I am sure you will find the best suited practice, instructor and studio for you to begin your journey.
Sharon Marrama was born in the Boston suburb of Woburn, Massachusetts in 1957. As the first of five children, Sharon quickly learned to become a leader, mediator and communicator. Aside from family commitments and the joy of spending quality time with her grandson Connor, Sharon is dedicated to the following goals: enhancing her writing skills as she prepares to write a book, developing her yoga practice, and finishing her college degree. Sharon’s long term goals include preserving balance in her daily life, maintaining a healthy mind-body-spirit, and living a fulfilled life. To learn more about Sharon and her passions, visit her website.