A Guide to Yoga for Beginners

If you are one to diversify a workout programme or likely to desire a well-rounded fitness routine, yoga becomes key for flexibility training and some benefits provided by cardio and strength training.

There are different styles of yoga. In brief they are: Ashtanga or power yoga: intense and fast-paced yoga poses; Bikram or hot yoga carried out in approximate 35-40 Celsius environments; Hatha yoga that comprises basic poses, usually slow moving; Iyengar yoga wherein poses are held for longer and Vinyasa yoga that focuses on more aggressive poses and stretches.

If you are unsure about which form to follow, look up for reference material or join a fitness programme that focuses on pranyama(breathing techniques), asanas (postures) and dhyana (flexibility).

While there are multitude of physiological, psychological and biochemical benefits of yoga, the age-old stretches also bring about improvement in compassion, patience, mindful eating, strength, confidence, relationships and concentration.

As a yoga enthusiast, while you are likely to be carried away by the array of yoga pants and clothing in the local department store, to go easy on your wallet, start by wearing loose fitting clothing. If you are wearing shorts, ensure that it is only elastic and has not buttons. While a yoga mat is advised, it is not mandatory. Find yourself a surface that is solid and not slippery. If your routines become habitual, consider investing in a basic yoga mat.

Given below are a few poses you can start with.

Mountain Pose

One of the easiest and most basic poses. Stand firm with your feet together, knees unlocked and weight evenly distributed between the soles. Relaxing your shoulders, inhale and raise your arms straight up, overhead. Reaching to the sky keep your palms facing each other. An energising pose for the morning, it contributes towards postural awareness.

Downward Facing Dog

Begin by positioning yourself on all fours. Gradually bring your arms forward and your legs backwards. Ensure that your palms and soles are pressed to the surface and your body taking the shape of an inverted V. Hold the position for a while, return to all fours and repeat the pose. While this asana makes the spine stronger, it also increases the blood flow to the brain.

Tree Pose

Begin by standing firm with your feet together as in mountain pose. Maintaining acute eye contact on an object ahead of you, shift weight to one leg and bring the sole of the other foot and place it on the thigh of the former. Finding your balance, raise your hands to the sky, palms facing each other and elbows straight. Hold the position for a while and then switch sides.

Child’s Pose

A simple pose as the title suggests, begin by sitting comfortably on your heels. Pulling in your stomach, stretch out your arms and move forward until the forehead is in contact with the surface. Increase the intensity of the pose by bringing your chin closer to your knees and extending your arms as far as possible.

Happy Baby Pose

Lie on your back with your arms and legs stretched forward. Raise your legs and bring your knees as close as you can to your chest and then raise your arms and touch toes.

Side-Reclining Leg Lift

Lie on your side, ensure that your body is straight. Placing one bent arm under the neck for support, raise you other hand and the parallel leg. Making sure that knees are not bent, reach out and touch your toes while holding down the pose. Hold the pose for a few seconds and switch sides.

Wide-Legged Forward Bend

Stand tall with a distance of three feet apart. Next, raising your arms to the sky, slightly tilt backwards and lean forward until you touch the surface. If you cannot place both palms on the ground at the beginning, ensuring that your knees are not bent, lean forward and touch the surface to whatever your capacity may permit. Repeat the pose a few times. Once the pose is mastered, lean forward and try to touch the surface with your head. Your body should then take the shape of an inverted V.

Cobra Pose

Begin by laying on your stomach. Next, keeping your arms firmly rooted to the ground, raise yourself. Ensure that your lower torso is not lifted. Taking a deep breath, lift your neck upwards and breathe through your nose.