Are you looking to get into yoga but not sure if it's the right thing for you? Have you never tried it before but want to? Yes? Then this is something you need to read!
Learning the Right Way From the Beginning
“You’ve come to the right place. The Yoga 101 course offered by The Academy from Anahana will help learn how to do yoga in a safe and fun way in the comfort of your own home.
Yoga is not just a workout, it can help with many areas of your life, but it is also very important to learn the basics properly, especially at the very beginning. Not only can you build bad habits with poor form that may lead to injuries over time, but you are likely missing out on the many of the benefits from working with an instructor that really knows their stuff.
History of YogaYoga originates from ancient India being one of six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy. The exact date as to when it was first discovered varies, most say its origin dates back 5000 years — to 3000 BCE. This is based on references to yoga in ancient Sanskrit texts — namely, the Vedic Sanskrit texts the Rigveda and the Upanishads.
Science of Yoga
Yoga is today a practice, well-known for multiple spiritual reasons. Its success also stems from an array of physical and mental benefits, something to not be understated.
A numerous of scientific studies have been conducted, confirming that performing yoga can be a life-changing. It has proven to have benefits such as:
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Lowered blood pressure and slower pulse
- Reduced pain in joints and muscles
- Reduced stress and production of cortisol
- Improved digestion
- Improved blood sugar levels
- Ability to control weight
- Ability to breathe better
- Improved sleep
- Reduced tension in muscles and headaches
Overall, performing yoga has proven to make the practitioner happier and give a healthier mental state. With reduced stress and anxiety, along with depression and mental health disorders, it is clear that the benefits are tremendous.
Basic Styles of Yoga
Yoga consists of several different styles, all with their own benefits. Each and every yogi has their own preference when it comes to selecting what type of yoga they want to do, and what they want to achieve. Below you will find some of the many different styles available.
- Hatha Yoga is what most consider the traditional approach yoga. This type of yoga focuses on asanas (physical postures) and the elements surrounding it.
- Vinyasa Yoga is a style that primarily focuses on breathing in conjunction with performing asanas. The object is to sequences, which together, create a unified “flow.”
- Gentle Yoga is the go-to yoga for those that need to take it slow, someone who is recovering from an injury. It focuses on therapeutic positions and few movements. Benefits experienced from this style include improved breathing, reduced stress, and anxiety.
- Restorative Yoga is similar to gentle yoga, very useful for individuals with mobility problems, disabilities or those recovering from an injury. The style includes very few, slow stretches and movements.
- Yin Yoga is also referred to as Taoist yoga. It encompasses comfortable passive poses that don’t require much effort and often involve the use of props.
As mentioned, the style you as a yogi choose depends on what you want to achieve but also your age and flexibility. Some styles are better suited for seniors or those with limited movement and flexibility. Also those that are suffering from injuries, then some types are better than others.
Risks and Benefits of Yoga
As with everything, no matter if its running, yoga or any other type of exercise, it does come with both its risks but also benefits. Below we have some of the most common risks and benefits of doing yoga.
- Potential Injuries: Being new to yoga has its challenges and comes with some risk. Challenging yoga postures and some movements may result in excessive strain and subsequent injury.
- Overdoing it: If you are a yogi doing yoga on a regular basis, you may inflict stress injuries caused by continuous strain depending on poses, on particular muscles and joints.
- Showing off: The last thing you want to do is to try and start showing off but as with many physical practices, even yoga can become competitive. This is the last thing route you want to go as this all to often could result in unwanted injuries.
- Flexibility: If flexibility is your ultimate goal, then yoga is the perfect tool for you. It will challenge and push you and your flexibility to the max and beyond. This is achieved by performing repetitive poses and holding them for substantial amounts of time.
- Improved Sleep: Doing yoga, you will reduce stress, anxiety and tension in your body, all of which has an impact on sleep. Yoga Nidra for sleep is the style of yoga you should try if you want to sleep better and longer.
- Stress and Anxiety: As mentioned, yoga helps with both stress and anxiety. Through deep breathing exercises, practiced focus, and an emphasis on the mind-body connection you are able to reduce the stress and anxiety levels in your body. An effective way tool for stress management.
- Mental Focus: Yoga focuses on the importance of mental clarity. By getting the practitioner to let go of extraneous thoughts and feelings. Practicing yoga can have a great impact in improving concentration and mental agility.
- Improved Breathing: Besides the benefits mentioned above including improved mental focus, another great benefit is breathing as yoga focuses a lot on breathing exercises. It teaches not only how to breathe properly and provides breathing techniques on how to breathe to improve health and reduce stress.
- Better Overall Health: In general, a yoga practitioner is less likely to suffer from obesity or being overweight, with an overall better general health and a tendency to live a longer, more productive life.
Yoga Poses for Beginners
- Tadasana / Mountain Pose is the basis for most standing asanas. While it may elderly-woman standing in yoga mountain pose tadasana may appear to mean “just standing,” yet it actually involves attention to many postural and alignment-related details.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Dog is a popular stretching pose for rejuvenating and energizing the entire body and mind while strengthening the legs and arms. It particularly involves a deep stretch of the hamstrings, calves, and shoulders.
- Virabhadrasana III / Warrior 3 Pose is a pose that focuses heavily on honing your balance and maintaining stillness while steadying yourself on just one leg. It helps strengthen the legs and ankles, tone the abdomen, and improve overall balance and posture.
- Balasana / Child's Pose is a resting pose that is performed in a kneeling position with forehead on the floor. It is exceptionally soothing and calming and provides a great stretch for the entire back.
Frequently Asked Questions about Yoga 101
What are the most common styles of yoga?
There are tons of different yoga styles available. Which one you should go with all depends on what your end goal is. The most common styles include Hatha, Vinyasa, Gentle Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Yin Yoga.
What are the benefits of doing yoga?
As there are so many different styles of yoga, the benefits are endless. It all depends on what your objective and end goal is. You pick the style according to your needs and the benefits are then in accordance with that particular style. Most common benefits include improved flexibility, reduced stress and anxiety, improved sleep, improved breathing, and mental clarity.
Yoga is something you should try to incorporate in not just your private life but also inquire about it at your work, to include it as a workplace wellness program. After all, a healthy employee is a productive employee.
Are there any risks associated with doing yoga?
Yes, there are, especially if it is not performed in the correct manner and you are a beginner. If you have never done yoga before it is highly recommended that you do it alongside a certified yoga instructor who can teach you the correct moves, instruct you what not to do and what to be careful with. There are also those that try and overdo it when they are not ready for it. Others try to show off to their friends and in doing so, hurt themselves. Lastly, as mentioned, if you are a beginner and you take on some of the more challenging postures and poses, something that could result in injury.
This course will give you a sample of what yoga is all about, the foundations, and let you know how to get started with you and figure out where you go next - namaste!
This certification course gives you all of the basics to get started. Not only will we teach you the fundamentals, we will explain to you simple language how you perform yoga, the benefits from it, and then look at different kinds of exercises depending on your goals for today and the future.
Written by Clint Johnson
Clint teaches Yoga, Pilates, breath, and mediation to students and teachers all over the world. Prior to joining the wellness world, CJ as his friends call him, started his career as a MBS derivative trader and portfolio manager on Wall St. Clint is the founder of Anahana, and holds an MBA from INSEAD.