The Exhileration And Rewards Of Practicing Yoga

December 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Yoga for beginners

An excellent way of keeping your mind and body fit, is to practice yoga and if you’re looking something that’s exhilarating both physically and mentally then the advantages of practicing yoga is for you. Basically to practice yoga all you need is yourself, a yoga mat, a good teacher at a yoga studio to
learn and an open mind.

Various Tools Available For Purchase To Enhance Your Practice Of Yoga Sessions

The yoga mat is a must to begin and is used to provide cushioning for your body and once you become more proficient in your yoga poses you may not choose to use one. At most yoga studios a mat can usually be hired, it’s a good idea to have your own as you don’t want to be bothered with other peoples sweat etc. A good yoga mat will cost approximately twenty Euro and up, this price shouldn’t sway your commitment in deciding to go ahead.

You may want to consider purchasing two yoga mats, if you’re going to do yoga at home you’ll need one there too. Yoga mats do come in various types i.e. thick-mats, sticky-mats, travel-mats, extra-long-mats etc., so make sure to purchase the one that suits you best.

With some yoga poses you may need yoga props such as blocks which are generally made of bamboo or foam and are reasonably priced at under ten Euro or so. If your new to yoga a dvd or cd could be a good idea so you can practice your yoga at home too. These yoga lessons on dvd or cd are priced at anything between fifteen to fifty Euro. Meditation cushions are also available at reasonable prices, but are not essential to start practicing yoga.

The Benefits of Practicing Yoga

One of yoga’s many benefits is that it will help to increase your ability to find your space, harmony, inner peace and ease within your body and mind. But yoga can also help ease aches and pains in all parts of the body – for example; one of the places where we often have tightened tendons is around
the shoulders and neck area, which often causes headaches, practicing yoga can loosen up tight muscles and tendons and alleviate those annoying headache.

Yoga Poses For Beginners

There are many yoga poses, each one being helpful for any number of ailments, aches, pains and stress. No need to be overwhelmed or put off, you’ll learn the poses as you go and as your yoga is hopefully going to be a lifelong pursuit, you’ll have lots of time to learn. As your practice of yoga
progresses, you’ll become less overwhelmed and be comfortable taking on more of the challenging poses, but as a beginner, it’s a good idea to keep your yoga practice simple. However, don’t jump right into any fancy yoga exercises before you’ve been to a few yoga classes. It can take years to
learn the various yoga positions, but there are exercises that are appropriate and helpful for beginner students too.

A few standing yoga poses for beginners – both in English and Sanskrit include the following:

Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha

Downward-Facing Dog is an all-round yoga pose, which is a rejuvenating stretch. A few of the benefits of this pose are that it calms the brain and helps relieve stress, energizing the body as well as it stretches the shoulders, calves, arches, and hands.

Instructions:

1. Come to your hands and knees with the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips.

2. Curl the toes under and push back raising the hips and straightening the legs.

3. Spread the fingers and ground down from the forearms into the fingertips.

4. Outwardly rotate the upper arms broadening the collarbones.

5. Let the head hang, move the shoulder blades away from the ears towards the hips.

6. Engage the quadriceps strongly to take the weight off the arms, making this a resting pose.

7. Rotate the thighs inward, keep the tail high and sink your heels to the floor.

8. Check that the distance between your hands and feet is correct by coming forward to a plank position. The distance between the hands and feet should be the same in these two poses. Do not step the feet toward the hands in Down Dog in order the get the heels to the floor. This will happen eventually as the muscles lengthen.

Beginners: Try bending your knees, coming up onto the balls of your feet, bringing the belly to rest on the thighs and the sit bones up high. Then sink your heels, straightening the legs keeping the high upward rotation of the sit bones. Also try bending the arms slightly out to the side, drawing the chest towards the thighs. Then restraighten the arms.

Advanced: If you are very flexible, try not to let the rib cage sink towards the floor creating a sinking spine. Draw the ribs in to maintain a flat back. Try holding the pose for five minutes, placing a block under your head for support.

Extended Sides Angle Pose – Utthita Parsvakonasana

Extended Sides Angle Pose is used to create a stretch along the top side of the body, from the back heel through the raised arm. The need to match a stretch along the underside of the torso is often neglected.

1. From Downward Facing Dog, bring the right foot forward next to the right hand.

2. Drop the left heel down to the floor.

3. Bend the right knee so the calf and thigh are at a right angle with the thigh parallel to the floor.

4. Bring the right hand inside or outside the right foot and the left arm up toward the ceiling, opening the chest and stacking the left shoulder on top of the right.

5. Bring the gaze up to the right hand.

To keep the body in balance, repeat on the left side.

Beginners: If the right hand does not comfortably reach the floor, take a block under the hand so that you can still open the chest.

Pyramid Pose Intense Stretch Pose – Parsvottanasana

As the name suggests this pose is an intense stretch for the entire body. Our legs secure us firmly to the ground as our spine falls forward calling upon balance and concentration while promoting inner calm.

1. Standing in Tadasana, turn your right foot out slightly. Then, step the left leg forward so that your stance is fairly wide, yet comfortable. If you feel too wide or too close, adjust your stance. You will be looking over your left leg, your hips squared with the left leg.

2. Take the arms behind the back holding onto your forearms. Stand here for a few cycles of breath to gain a sense of balance, root your legs into the ground and to feel the stretch in the legs.

3. Inhale deeply while lifting the chest and looking upward, being careful not to strain the neck. Begin to exhale while bending forward, leading with the chest. Come down toward your left leg and tuck your chin in towards your chest, when you reach your limit. Concentrate and hold, while breathing fluidly.

4. If balance is compromised, release the arms so that your fingertips gently touch the floor on both sides of the foot. If you cannot reach the floor, place them on your leg, without depending on the leg for support. You will need to bring your awareness into the lower back for support.

5. Breathe into the backs of the legs where you feel the stretch. Lengthen the spine, deepening the pose on your exhalation.

6. To come out of the pose, inhale and roll the torso up starting from the base of the spine. When you are upright again, allow the breath to guide your reflection before stepping your feet together. Repeat on the other side.

Benefits:

* Strengthens and stretches entire leg and back
* Strengthens and tones abdomen; improves digestive system
* Massages liver and stomach
* Improves complexion, hair, eyes and cools the brain

Cautionary Notes/Modifications:

* Adjust your back foot to accommodate the rotation toward your forward leg.
* Variation: clasp hands behind the back and extend the arms away from you as you fold forward
* Before descending the torso, open the shoulders, lengthen the spine as you look upward starting at about 45 degrees, (more if your neck is strong and uncompromised) coming into a back bend.
* Do not come down into the final posture if you are suffering from any abdominal illnesses

Mountain Pose – Tadasana

The Mountain Pose is said to be named so as it promotes the experience of stillness, strength, relaxed power, and immovable stability associated with mountains.

Instructions:

1. Come to stand with the big toes touching.

2. Lift up all your toes and let them fan out, then drop them down creating a wide solid base. You can separate your heels slightly if your ankles are knocking together uncomfortably.

3. Bring your weight evenly onto all four corners of both feet.

4. Let the feet and the calves root down into the floor.

5. Engage the quadriceps and draw them upward, causing your knee caps to rise.

6. Rotate both thighs inward, creating a widening of the sit bones, and tuck your tailbone in between the sit bones.

7. Tone the belly, drawing it in slightly.

8. Widen the collar bones and make sure the shoulders are parallel to the pelvis.

9. The neck is long, the crown of the head rises toward the ceiling, and the shoulder blades slide down the back.

It may seem like you are just standing there, but bringing the body into alignment is hard work. The alignment for Tadasana carries in to many of the standing and inverted poses.

Beginners: Practice the pose with your back to the wall so you can feel the alignment. Take a block between the thighs. Squeeze the block and roll it slightly backward to feel the engagement and rotation of the thighs.

Of course there many, many more yoga poses for beginners, these will get you started and you can get the feel of it. Yoga can be invigorating even if using it’s practice just to obtain physical fitness but it can bring more insight into yourself, those around you and a deeper understanding into life itself. A true instrument of learning that anyone can learn and take pleasure in.

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