Yoga For Beginners
What Every Yoga Beginner Should Know Before Practice
Table Of Contents:
Chapter 1: Getting Started
Chapter 2: The Origin of Yoga
Chapter 3: The Standard Format
Chapter 4: Showing Up
Chapter 5: Popular Types of Yoga
Chapter 6: Core Positions and Progression
This book contains proven steps and strategies on how to learn the basics of yoga, and through the practice of learning the art of yoga, lower your stress levels, lose weight, become fitter and improve the overall level of your living conditions.
Throughout this book I am going to analyze in great detail many tips and tricks you can use in order to get the most out of yoga, and stay in control of your life for years to come.
As long as you follow the steps and guidelines in this book I guarantee you will see results, and feel the difference within days.
This book will provide details on what yoga is, why you must practice it, how to be a yoga practitioner, in what aspects of your life you are going to see major improvement, and how to stay on track in order to achieve your goals as fast as possible.
Thanks again for downloading this book, I hope you enjoy it!
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The word ‘Yoga’ derives from the word ‘yuj’ in Sanskrit, meaning ‘to unite.’ This is appropriate given the multitude of purposes that yoga serves. Aside from the core reality that like-minded people from around the world come together quite often to share in its experience, yoga itself represents the unity of many different principles that can serve our everyday needs.
If you’re reading this book you’ve already taken a step in the right direction. Yoga not only helps the practitioner get into better physical shape, it’s a holistically beneficial activity. This book is going to help you approach yoga as a beginner and give you some tips to succeed in your quest for a better mind, spirit and body, which is what the practice of yoga is all about. Yoga’s benefits are innumerable.
It’s important to first dispel some of the myths about yoga. Despite being an activity that is sometimes associated with the feminine, there are many males that participate in the practice and there are a high number of male teachers. Some types of yoga, such as Hatha Flow, the most popular, are quite strenuous; enough so that it should instantly debunk any myths about yoga is too girly an activity for blustery males. Some also tend to believe that you need to be flexible to do yoga. This is patently untrue. Many yogis are not flexible at all, though the practice encourages them to expand their flexibility over time. Part of the rationale of yoga is accepting that bodies are unique and different. Respecting the limitations of your body is key and is also important in avoiding injury.
First let’s discuss the body. Yoga has rejuvenating effects that surprise even veterans. A standard class lasts one and a half hours, and classes are often very strenuous. Yet at the end of them, yogis do not feel emptied of energy but just the opposite. Rather, they quite often feel energetic and ready for their day. Yoga classes are typically held throughout the day, running from as early as 5am to 7pm at night. Exercises are also extremely balanced, meaning that they practically focus on the body as a whole, rather than just one small part. In this book, students of yoga are referred to as ‘yogis.’ Experienced employees leading the class are simply called ‘teachers’ or ‘yoga teachers.’
Yoga is a very safe activity, as the entire practice typically takes place on a . However, in any physical endeavor, especially involving strenuous exercise, there is a risk of overdoing things and injuring yourself. Here are a few ways not to do that. First, yoga should generally be avoided by women in the late stages of pregnancy. Generally at this point many of the poses are difficult to begin with. Also if there are prior injuries it’s possible to exacerbate them. Yoga places a lot of pressure on the feet and the wrists. It isolates different parts of the body generally, and focuses on them one by one. Yogis with prior injuries in these areas could make things worse. Generally in the beginning of the class instructors will ask their students if they have prior injuries. It’s important to be honest with them. If you ever need to take a break, particularly if in the course of the practice you are putting pressure on an area that makes you physically uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong with taking a break and going into the child’s pose. You can wait there until the focus shifts to another body part.
Some of the more challenging poses can be worrisome if the yogi does not have control. Beginners should be careful, for instance when they try head stands and shoulder stands in the first few months of their practice. Generally a spotter is required to prevent balance from being lost, which could end up causing a cascade of teetering yogis, knocking each other over like dominos across the room.
It’s important to maintain yoga etiquette if you’re going to a public class. It’s not as if you’ll be inundated by tons of different rules, but there are a few basic expectations that it’s important to be aware of.
The first of these is that you generally want to be early to class, so you have time to set up your mat (or a borrowed one) and get into a relaxed state. Class members sometimes chat when they first arrive, but as it becomes time to begin they are generally expected to fall silent and become attentive to the instructor. Bathroom breaks are fine, but are not all that common. The sessions are rather long (1.5 hours) so it’s permissible to leave, but if you do just make sure not to disrupt the class.
Some yoga centers may ask that males not take their shirts off during practice or that yogis avoid showing up already emanating unpleasant odors. This may seem strange given that yoga is a highly physical activity, but it’s also meant to appeal to the other senses, including smell. There is generally incense burning in the room, so as to make for a pleasant aroma.
While yoga is a modern activity, it is in fact an ancient practice that has been developing for many centuries in tandem with Hinduism. It celebrates some of the main Hindu beliefs, including those of peace, serenity and harmony with both mankind and nature, the destruction of the ego and a mental flow state that encourages creativity, positivity and originality. Adherence to discipline is also a key belief, as yogis are encouraged to endure the physical and mental hardship of practice for the duration of the class as best they can.
Yoga originates from the Indus civilization, which encompassed 300,000 square miles in part of what is now modern India. Sources differ on the precise date that the practice of yoga began, as this goes back so long that it’s difficult to say. There is proof however that yoga has been in practice for at least 5,000 years, based upon depictions of figures in yogic poses in the cities of Daro, Harappa and Mohenjo found by archaeologists. Yet there are indications that yoga may have been in existence for possibly even up to 17,000 years. This has led to a deep, wise and streamlined practice that has stood the test of time.
Just because the practice has been around for so long doesn’t necessarily mean that it has always existed in the form that it’s in today. It has gone through many different permutations throughout its long journey before it became popular in western civilization. In fact, Hatha, which is perhaps the most pervasive form of yoga today, was created in the 4th and 5th centuries, and took centuries to become culturally relevant around the world. Many practitioners and gurus (or teachers) who have decided to make yoga a top priority in their lives have gone to India to practice, where yoga is taught in a manner that is considered the closest to its purest form possible.
Teacher training is popular in India as well and often linked closely to lengthy sessions of vows of silence and meditation. Travelers have found India to be a spectacular destination; though it is one with which many yogis have a love/hate relationship. It is both one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world and one of the most challenging, especially during attempts to explore the ‘real India’, outside the comfort of tourist zones and luxury. Learning more about the origin of yoga will enrich your experience, and put you in touch with the fundamental principles, which can be life changing additions to its physical benefits.
This chapter discusses the many different forms of yoga to help guide the reader in deciding where to start, and eventually how to manage his or her time when it comes to your personal practice. It should be noted that although most yoga centers also sometimes offer alternative classes like Salsa and Pilates. This is simply because yogis are often interested in these activities as well, and some yoga teachers have skills in both.
While differing in terms of difficulty and style most yoga classes have a similar format. Generally students begin seated on their mats facing the front of the room with their legs crossed. In yoga etiquette all participants usually fall silent and place their attention on the instructor. Talking during the practice is usually limited, although from time to time the instructor will ask whether the students have questions. If there’s an emergency of course it’s fine to bring an interruption.
Aside from this talking during the session on the part of the participants should be generally kept to a minimum. Hands rest on the knees with palms facing upward. Some yogis extend their fingers or put them in a ring configuration, while others just rest them there. Instructors will sometimes come around the room and help the participants by adjusting their posture. Some instructors make a point of asking yogis who are uncomfortable being touched to signify this somehow, usually by turning one corner of their mat under. If you prefer this boundary, this is an option.
The teacher will also ask the participants to sit up as straight as possible and tilt their heads slightly back. At first this can be difficult, particularly for participants who are accustomed to slouching. Over time however one becomes accustomed to this pose, and it makes a giant improvement to posture, which helps maintain the health of the back over the long term.
Different teachers have different styles. Some prefer to give speeches at the beginning of the session. These often adhere to different themes, like positivity, discipline or perseverance and are designed to share some of the ancient spoken wisdom that comes from the practice of yoga. Other teachers prefer not to talk much in the beginning and get right into the practice. Before the physical activity begins there is a session of ohms, when participants are asked to mimic the teacher’s sounds vocally. This tends to put the class in sync. Generally this is short as well. If you don’t feel comfortable participating verbally you aren’t required to do so, but in order to get the full experience of the session participants are usually encouraged to trust the leadership of the instructor.
Classes typically start with easier stretches that are integrated into the program. Stretching in the beginning is not like stretching before a sports practice. It’s part of the fabric of yoga itself. This may seem strange but if participants simply follow the instruction of the teacher it is made easy. Instructors often mimic the poses that they ask their students to do to give examples. If a student is having difficulty getting into a pose, an instructor will generally step over and help guide him or her. This is quite common too with handstands and headstands, which are some of the more difficult and precarious positions in yoga. When a yogi is guided by a spotter they become much easier. Then over time students can learn to do these poses on their own.
Although not always performing strenuous activity throughout the entirety of the practice, participants are always kept more or less ‘busy’ or occupied. There are no real breaks but there are periodic resting times where the child’s pose is used, most often just after the most strenuous portions of the practice. Usually in the beginning the pace is slow, and it often begins to speed up significantly about twenty minutes into the practice. Some poses focus on the legs (or one leg at a time) while others focus on the upper body. Often there are variations of a pose based upon relative difficulty, and these are described by the instructor to allow the students to choose the pose that suits them best.
Periodic breaks are given throughout. Near the end of the practice instructors resort to ‘cool down’ poses which are intended to bring the body back into a state of rest and relaxation. Practice ends with the shavasana, in which the students lie on their backs, usually for about five to ten minutes to the sound of soothing music or silence. This is a kind of meditation period in which chants or relaxing words are spoken by the instructor. After the shavasana, students sit up again as in the beginning of the practice session with their legs crossed, arms resting on their knees, and palms open upward. Chants are repeated again.
It may be a little intimidating showing up to your first yoga class, so this chapter fleshes out what the experience is like to show fresh yogis that yoga studios are casual environments. Remember also that you’re there to maintain a state of low stress. You want to get a workout in and possibly to engage in meditation. Anxiety is the last thing you should want to experience.
If you’re feeling out of shape, don’t compare your body to others’. Yoga is supposed to be all about self-improvement, and while some yogis are particularly proud of their achievements, communities are generally very welcoming. That said, there seldom needs to be any conversing involved before class begins. Plenty of yogis prefer to set up their mats silently without talking to anyone, as a way to prepare themselves mentally for practice.
The teacher may ask the yogis to raise their hands if it is their first class. This happens more often in difficult classes, where there can be concern that a beginner has mistakenly wandered into a class too advanced for him or her. Despite its reputation as a primarily feminine activity, yoga can be an incredibly strenuous activity, pushing the limits of one’s physical cardio, balance and longevity.
Before you go, check the schedule to see if the classes are numbered in terms of difficulty. It’s recommended that beginners start out with at least one ‘intro’ class. That way they can broadly and slowly introduce themselves to the different core poses without feeling the pressure of quick transitions, which are often quite difficult even for very experienced yogis.
Beginners should always remember that if they get too tired to keep up with the rest of the class during session, it’s perfectly fine to return to the ‘child’s position’, which is designed for rest. Teachers should introduce this early-on to beginners. The chin is tucked in while the knees are bent and tucked into the chest. Toes are pointed while the body leans forward on the legs. This pose is not always comfortable at first, but becomes comfortable with time.
Some beginners are worried about needing equipment for yoga, but this is not the case. That’s one of the beauties of this practice. All you need to do is show up wearing workout gear. For ladies a are fine, but gym shorts work just as well. Some yogis make a point of their yoga fashion setup. If that’s part of a ritual that adds meaning to the practice for you, then it’s certainly worth it. But having special yoga pants isn’t going to give you a better workout.
What’s more important is your attentiveness and adherence to the teacher’s direction, your breathing and self-awareness, your developing agility and balance, and your self-improvement over time. For those that really care about the core significance of yoga, fashion is a superficial element. It is sometimes helpful to remember that Lululemon didn’t exist thousands of years ago in India where yoga was developed, when fashion in yoga was less of a priority. Don’t scrutinize your clothes as much as you do your technique and commitment. This doesn’t mean that yogis should feel bad if they can’t go every day, but focus in the moment is a key priority.
As for mats, they are made available for use already, so you can just borrow them at the studio. You don’t need any other equipment. Just bring your body and a positive attitude. Aside from that, you’re ready to go! Happy practice!
The following forms of yoga are some of the most popular. Take a look below to see what you think might fit you best in getting started. Naturally over the long term it is healthy to expand your horizons and try new forms of yoga as much as possible. You never know, It could become your favorite new thing! Descriptions include difficulty levels along with the general focus of the class.
Hatha focuses on body movements designed to break a sweat through compound exercises that divide the body into quarters. Generally it has a heavy focus on building leg strength and leg balance at the same time, transitioning then into an upper-body focus, which includes push-up like motions in short repetition. Ordinary hatha classes focus on holding one or more positions for longer periods of time whereas hatha flow classes feature more rapid movement for the purpose of getting a more active workout.
Vinyasa classes are a form of Hatha yoga designed to focus on the more physical aspect of yogic exercise within the standard format of a yoga class, including chants in the beginning and a shavasana at the end. The core format is for participants to periodically come to rest in the downward dog position, sometimes transitioning back to plank, then leaping with the feet forward such that they’re positioned next to the hands. The next step is to reach the hands high up in the air, then down again to the feet, leap backwards, then drop the body down in a push-up fashion to the ground yet without making full contact with the chest. Pushing the body up again as the legs are straight and the feet are pointing backwards, the body transitions into downward dog and then plank position. This process begins slow and gradually increases in speed. Other stretches and exercises are integrated, but generally this routine is what gives the practice its continuity.
While many classes are quite physically active, others focus almost entirely on meditation and on linking meditation to breathing exercises. Those who do not meditate on a regular basis will want to start with a lower level class, as the higher level classes often require that participants meditate for longer periods of time. Generally, the meditation sessions in beginner level classes last for around fifteen minutes with some occasional physical exercises to stretch out the body and create some contrast during the class. Meditation focuses on relaxing the body completely and exiting all thoughts from the mind, striving to attain a new height of focus and consciousness. Teachers often guide participants through different mantras that help one to attain this state of mind.
Readers should remember that there are many different kinds of as well. Some focus particularly on the release of physical and emotional pain, involving a chance for venting. Students are generally encouraged not just to meditate during class, but at home as well. 10 minutes of meditation every day can make a huge difference, and change one’s perspective on life.
Breathing classes are often held in yoga centers. These include a variety of different techniques which try to heighten consciousness through rapid breathing, circular breathing, and the syncopation of breathing with different physical exercises. Breathing exercises border on a kind of hyperventilation which can be exhilarating, and rehabilitating with respect to the mind and consciousness. The beauty of these exercises is that once learned they can be done nearly anywhere.
Although not technically yoga, and developed much more recently, pilates exercises share many of the same movements and concepts as yoga, with a focus on developing the muscles in the core, enhancing balance, breathing, and centering exercises. The concept of centering derives from understanding the core as being the center of intent and identity aside from just the development of the abdominal muscles. Pilates is more an exercise-centric activity than yoga, which embodies a more spiritual aspect.
You’ll learn these if you take a beginner’s class, but just to familiarize the reader with them, here are some of the core positions in yoga. These are generally the first things that a beginner learns when he or she comes to class. It’s important to do these with correct technique. Otherwise, not only can this be harmful to parts of your body, but your muscle memory could develop the wrong habits, which is not the best path for advancement!
Warrior Pose (1, 2 & 3)
Right Triangle Pose: Performed on both sides
Easy Plow Pose
Half Moon Pose: Performed on both sides
Easy Forward Bend Pose
Rotation Pose: Performed on both sides
Upward Table Pose
Half Boat Pose
The Savasana is the final pose in yoga, done at the end of every yoga practice. It is part resting, part meditation, and part focusing on your purpose for the practice and on the effect you intend for it to have on your life. Though this is the least difficult pose of all physically, it has been said that there is no pose more difficult than the Savasana, because penetrating the core of its meaning involves a state of consciousness that requires unique experience and focus.
Now that you have a lot of the basics about yoga you’ll be at an advantage when showing up to your first class. Let’s talk a little bit about the process of progressing in yoga. Everyone tends to do so at their own pace, which depends not just on yoga but on consistently making healthy lifestyle choices, as in those that are conducive to your growth physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The great thing about yoga is that it puts you around people that tend to value healthy lifestyles. Their food choices and habits are likely to influence your own, and thus will result in even greater benefits over the long run. There’s an old saying that if you want to learn something fast, learn it slow, and if you want to learn it slow, learn it fast. Yoga is not a thing to be rushed, although when you do practice, it deserves your full attention and commitment.
Those who periodically take breaks from yoga may also find that their time off has allowed them to process some of the body movements, and are surprised at how easy it is to return. If you simply commit to doing your best and go on a regular basis you will improve, and you’re certain to see the results.
Thank you again for downloading this book! This section provides the conclusion. Just to keep the ideas fresh in your mind let’s review what was discussed in the above chapters. The first chapter introduced the concept of yoga, dispelled myths about the requirements to practice it, talked about how to stay safe and avoid injury, and briefly, yoga etiquette. The second chapter briefly goes into the origin of yoga and its historical roots in India, which are important to remember in contemporary times.
The third chapter discusses the nearly universal format of a yoga class to help beginners know what to expect when they come for the first time. The fourth chapter covers what is needed for yoga class, mentions class difficulty and the child’s pose, an important refuge for tired yogis, and dispels myths about importance of fashionable dress. The fifth chapter goes into more detail in describing the features of the core yoga classes. Some are more focused on meditation, while others on physical fitness. The sixth chapter focused on describing the core positions in yoga and gives some final tips as to how progression is made.
I hope this book inspired you to bring yoga in your life, and gave you confidence to start practicing.
The next step is to not wait any longer and get started with yoga practice. It’s a wonderfully beneficial activity, so sign up for a class today!
Finally, if you enjoyed this book, would you be kind enough to leave a review for it on Amazon? It’d be greatly appreciated!
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Thank you again!
This book contains proven steps and strategies on how to learn the basics of yoga, and through the practice of learning the art of yoga, lower your stress levels, lose weight, become fitter and improve the overall level of your living conditions. Throughout this book I am going to analyze in great detail many tips and tricks you can use in order to get the most out of yoga, and stay in control of your life for years to come. As long as you follow the steps and guidelines in this book I guarantee you will see results, and feel the difference within days. This book will provide details on what yoga is, why you must practice it, how to be a yoga practitioner, in what aspects of your life you are going to see major improvement, and how to stay on track in order to achieve your goals as fast as possible.