Yoga originated in India and has been practised for around 5000 years. It has helped billions of people throughout the ages find balance between their mind, body and spirit. Yoga is now practised globally and one of the most nurturing forms of self care you can give yourself.
Yoga encourages us to seek inner peace, body restoration and spiritual acceptance. Anyone can do yoga, regardless of their age, fitness level or ability. You take yoga at your own pace, focusing on improving your individual form and practise.
If you’re thinking of starting yoga, do it, but first read this complete guide to help you prepare.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a form of meditative exercise. It uses deep breathwork and focused body stretches to connect the body and mind, promoting deep restoration. Yoga targets the whole body, encouraging inner balance and giving pause for thought.
There are many levels to practising yoga, it ranges from simple easy movements for beginners, to complex poses that require years of practice to perfect. No matter what your level of yoga experience is, the benefits start from your very first session.
What is breathwork?
Breathwork is a method embedded within yoga practice. It encourages us to take in deep, regulated breaths and let them out fully, using the full expansion of our lungs. Breathwork is about reconnecting with a vital process in our body, listening to it and feeling its effects.
We often do not use the full capacity of our lungs, poor posture and shallow breathing prevent us from inhaling and exhaling to our full potential. Breathwork helps us realign our breathing, release stress and increase blood circulation.
Is yoga meditation?
Yoga certainly incorporates meditation though the practice. Sessions usually begin with some form of mild meditation, helping you to clear your mind of distracting thoughts and prepare for your yoga session.
Yoga sessions tend to end with the savasana pose, a total state of relaxation and often described as the bridge between yoga and mediation. In savasana pose, participants lie on their back, completely still. This pose is harder than it sounds to to maintain, it takes practice to regulate your body and resist fidgeting.
The beauty of savasana though, is that it serves as a starting point for full meditation. Yoga and meditation are intrinsically tied to one another, and yoga participants can enter meditative states during their practice.
Is yoga good for weight loss?
Yoga can be used as an exercise for weight loss purposes and for maintaining a healthy size. Just one hour of yoga can burn anywhere from 180 – 600 calories, depending on the intensity and nature of the poses.
More importantly though, yoga helps to promote healthy habits. It can be used as a tool for releasing stress and regulating your emotional well being, which may help you overcome unhealthy eating habits such as emotional or comfort eating.
10 benefits of yoga
The benefits of yoga target the whole body, mind and spirit. It promotes balance and harmony within our inner selves whilst also helping to nurture our physical bodies.
If you begin practising yoga, you can also expect to benefit from:
- Regulated sleeping patterns.
- Improved posture and balance.
- Better joint mobility.
- Increased flexibility.
- Increased strength and muscle.
- Easing pain and preventing injury.
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved blood circulation.
- Improved emotional wellbeing and mental health.
- Reduced stress in the mind and body.
The benefits of yoga extend far beyond just a good stretch. It is a full body treatment, benefitting you both physically and mentally. You can find inner peace and experience total body restoration through practising yoga.
What to wear to yoga class?
Yoga sessions will require physical movements and long body stretches, so it’s best to wear loose fitting and comfortable clothing. Some ideas for what to wear to yoga class include:
- Jogging bottoms
- Tracksuit bottoms
- Soft shorts
- Loose fitted trousers (made of materials like linen or cotton).
- Vest tops
- Loose fitted jumpers
In the beginning of yoga you may feel cold, but it’s not long before movements and poses make you warm up. The most important thing is that you feel unrestricted in whatever you wear to yoga, there isn’t a dress code, you just need to feel comfortable.
How to use yoga blocks?
Yoga blocks are like a hard foam brick used to help assist you in different yoga poses. They are not essential for practising yoga, but they do help you achieve different poses and encourage better form.
You can use yoga blocks for:
Yoga block for seated position
Sitting on the block encourages your spine to remain straight and aligned. It supports your hips and helps you remain comfortable in a seated position.
Yoga block for lying down poses
For poses that require you to lay down on your back, a yoga block is great for supporting the head and back if needed. A yoga teacher can help you know where to place the block under your head or back for optimal support.
Yoga block for downward facing dog pose
The downward facing dog can be a difficult pose to master in the beginning, it can be challenging to touch the floor and get that full extension. A yoga block can help you achieve this pose by offering an extension and extra support.
How to use a yoga strap
A yoga strap is another piece of equipment that you can use for supporting different yoga poses, but like the yoga block it is not essential for practice. A yoga strap can help increase flexibility and encourage a wider range of motion in a variety of different poses. A yoga instructor can show you how to best utilise this piece of equipment to ensure you are using it safely and effectively.
How often should I do yoga?
Depending on your level of comfort and ability, yoga should be practised anywhere from 2 – 5 times per week. If you are doing it often, it’s also a good idea to target different parts of the body, to prevent one area from being overworked.
Yoga for the mind, body and soul
If you’re a beginner to yoga, the most daunting thing is getting onto that mat for the first time. Once you start practising yoga though, you will surprise yourself in your ability to perform poses and enter that calming state of mind. For total restoration of the body, mind and spirit, start nurturing yourself through practising yoga.
If you would like to join a yoga class, get in touch today!