Yoga can be intimidating for beginners. Yoga was recently popularized in North America and studios started to pop up around cities in Canada. It wasn’t long before Canadians stepped their feet on yoga mats and started exploring Ashtanga, Yin, Vinyasa, and Hot Yoga practices at home and in studios.
You probably know a collection of friends and family who regularly practice yoga and perhaps you’re deciding to try yoga yourself.
Not sure if you dare to take that step and learn yoga? Don’t worry, although yoga lessons may appear challenging or intimidating at first, beginner yoga classes can be accessible for everyone.
Yoga is incredibly worthwhile. Starting a consistent yoga practice can help you:
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Improve flexibility and balance
- Support posture and physical alignment
- Enhance performance in other sports
- Lead to everyday mindfulness
- Regulate your breathing
These are all elements that will be useful to you in everyday life. And you don’t have to be a professional-level athlete to start yoga classes. Enthusiasm and motivation are all it takes to get started.
Superprof instructors offer students a free hour class so that you can gauge your interest in yoga before committing to a membership at a studio or a weekly online lesson.
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What Will You Learn in Yoga for Beginners?
Before you jump into your first yoga class it’s advantageous to better understand the origins of yoga and how yoga teachings travelled to the Western world.
Five thousand years ago, yoga was developed to help people live better lives and to support them through pain and loss. In those trying times it is important to cultivate harmony between mind and body and find balance.
Yoga is one of India’s six main philosophic systems. It is a “darsana”, a specific way of looking at the world.
What does “yoga” mean?
The word “yoga” comes from the ancient root “*yeug-”, which means “to bind, to join”. Its primary goal is to unify the body and mind and heart. It is a way to find yourself and become conscious of one’s existence.
Yoga is based on several principles:
- Yoga sutra
The physical aspect of yoga is intended to:
- Teach you to live in the present moment
- Develop your breathing
- Help you become more conscious of your body
- Improve your body’s flexibility
- Work on strength and endurance
- Enhance your balance
Consider consulting your doctor before starting yoga lessons. If you have an injury or you’re pregnant, a doctor may suggest you avoid intensive yoga practices and try gentle movement.
Not all types of yoga are good for everybody. A medical opinion can be vital and yoga teachers often ask for a doctor’s approval before taking you on.
Starting Your First Yoga Lesson
When you walk into your first yoga class the introduction of the yoga class will often focus on relaxing the body and mind. In our daily lives, we operate with active minds and active bodies to be productive. Yoga allows you to drop the “doing” and enter into a state of “being”.
What to expect at the start of your first yoga class
If you’re new to yoga and curious about what you should expect, there are a few things to keep in mind before you walk into a studio or begin an online class.
- Wear something comfortable and stretchy.
- You won’t be perfect at every pose.
- You can talk to your instructor and ask for help.
- You can use modifications to make poses more accessible.
- You should pay close attention to how you’re breathing.
- Not all classes are created equal.
- Remember to stay hydrated (especially before hot yoga).
- You can always stop and rest in Child’s Pose.
Yoga and Meditation
Meditation is an essential component of yoga. Yoga is often referred to as “meditation in motion” or “moving meditation” because you are dropping your racing thoughts to anchor into the present moment.
The popular meditation app Headspace defines meditation:
“Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.”
Mindfulness of mind and body is essential if you want to live consciously in the present moment. Yoga will help you tune into your thought patterns so that you can be in control of your mind, rather than allowing your mind to control you.
Meditation and Concentration
Concentration is indispensable. In the modern world, the constant ping of technology and the presence of distractions on digital devices can make concentration a long-lost skill.
We need to concentrate to complete work, finish tasks, access higher levels of creativity, be active listeners in a conversation, and be present in our lives.
Meditation and yoga are impossible without concentration. The physical practice of yoga is also a form of mental discipline. You don’t have your smartphone or TV to distract you while you’re practising yoga on your mat.
Learning to focus on yogic poses will slowly take your mind off of the stresses of your day-to-day and encourage relaxation and mindfulness so you can re-enter your life with greater awareness.
What are the concrete benefits of yoga meditation?
- Lessens psychosomatic problems
- Generally improves health
- Relaxes the nervous system
- Reduces tension
- Allows you to put some distance between yourself and your problems
- Helps you face your fears
- Improves your confidence and self-esteem
Meditation also helps you not be constantly analyzing and judging. What is important is the intuition sparked by observation of the environment at that moment. This lets us be in sync with what is around us.
Yoga and Physical Strength
Many athletes add yoga to their intensive training routine to improve balance, alignment, strength, and flexibility.
Advanced yoga classes require an impressive degree of flexibility and strength. Yogic masters are able to execute stable handstands, arm balancing poses, and surprising twists after years of continuous practice.
As you continue to attend yoga classes, your instructor will slowly elevate the difficulty level, allowing your body to adapt to the poses little by little.
Once the mind is calm, there is an opportunity to reconnect to the body. This is done with a specific series of yoga poses.
The practise of yoga is recommended for people needing to build up muscle or to stretch certain parts of their body.
You can use yoga to achieve the following benefits for physical health:
- Stretch the spinal cord and articulations
- Heal back and knee problems
- Tone the muscles
- Regulate organ functions (liver, bladder, stomach, etc.)
- Stimulate the endocrine glands (thyroid and hypophysis)
- Stimulate the adrenal glands
- Detoxify the body
- Improve circulation
- Invigorate the antibodies and improve immune function
Yoga and Breathing Exercises
Yoga incorporates an ancient practice called “pranayama” otherwise known as breathing exercises. Regulating breathing can help you control your nervous system and pull the emergency brake on your fight or flight response. This means you can use breathing techniques to reduce stress, anxiety, and panic.
You may be surprised to learn that most people don’t breathe properly. The average person inhales shallow breaths and breathes rapidly, which may increase stress in the mind and body. Difficulty breathing can lead to:
- General weakness
- Poor digestion
- A weak immune system
- Poor circulation
- Difficulty concentrating
- A tendency to be overwhelmed by stress and emotions
Improving your breathing can also improve your energy levels. If you’re feeling lethargic, instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, try engaging in a simple series of breathing exercises.
Basic Breathing Exercise for Reducing Anxiety
Yoga lessons concentrate on the expansion of the diaphragm. Relaxing the diaphragm during breathing can improve digestion and blood circulation.
If you’re experiencing anxiety the body may trigger the fight or flight and begin hyperventilating to prepare your body for combat. Rather than breathing faster, you can reset this system by slowing your breathing. Use the following breathing exercise:
- Slowly push all the air out of your lungs, then simply let your lungs do their work inhaling air.
- Try spending a little bit longer exhaling than you do inhaling. Counting can help you track your exhales. Try inhaling for four seconds, then exhale for six.
- Set a timer and try doing this for two to five minutes until your body feels increasingly calm.
Start Your First Yoga Class Today
Are you interested in learning how to meditate, improving your athletic abilities, and regulating your breathing to reduce stress? Yoga is an accessible and affordable way to boost your overall wellness and learn something new.
Superprof offers affordable yoga classes hosted by experienced yoga teachers through a network of thousands of instructors.
Find out how much yoga lessons cost with our blog of yoga prices.
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