As a beginner in Yoga one of the first things you have to learn is your breath control – the Pranayama. We are not just talking about breathing but about being aware of your vital energy, also called Prana. Pranayama leads us to connect our physical being with our spiritual being. Control of breathing has many physical benefits such as oxygenation of the blood and increased lung capacity, but also helps relaxation and emotional control.
Breathing consists on inhalations and exhalations and must always be performed through the nose. With the inhalation we absorb prana and with the exhalation, we re-distribute it. It is very important to be aware of your breathing while performing the Asanas (yoga postures), keeping it deep and slow. There are various ways of breathing and you can practice them every day with basic exercises.
Furthermore, beginners in yoga should also begin with learning the yoga postures. Even if the first postures you learn are basic, they are still complex. Be sure you learn them and repeat them correctly so you do not get used to it in a wrong way. Each posture works certain parts of your body. For example, the Palm pose that works the legs and arms, or the Cat Pose that focuses on your back. Asanas are more than physical exercise; Asanas are way of meditation that helps us to advance in our self-awareness.
In yoga, control, harmony, balance and order are important. Yoga for beginners focuses on practicing these important concepts. You can not simply do breathing exercises and asanas without having a relationship between them. Yoga is harmony and fluidity: if the relation between asanas and breathing breaks, you can not achieve their benefits. Therefore it is important to practice yoga respecting the sequences – or Vinyasa-Krama. These sequences respect an order of realization of the postures that ensures their maximum effectiveness. Like everything in yoga, they are flexible and adaptable, but there are sequences that have been practiced for ancestral times. One of the best-known examples is the Sun Salutation, a fast, adaptable and easy-to-perform sequence that aims to warm up the body at the beginning of practice.
As a beginner in yoga you should also choose the style of yoga that you like and suit your needs better. As we explained in the previous article, there are about 100 different types of yoga.
Bellow we explain some of the most practiced types of yoga, as well as its characteristics and benefits:
– Hatha Yoga. Suitable for beginners, is the type of yoga that is taught more commonly. It is focused mainly on teaching postures, and is adaptable to all kinds of needs and personalities.
– Kundalini Yoga. It is a type of yoga very focused on the activation of a particular energy called Kundalini. Although it isn’t more difficult to practice than other types of yoga, it includes meditation and mantras’ singing that interact with the energy.
– Bikram Yoga. It has a high rhythm. It is performed in air-conditioned rooms at about 104 degrees Fahrenheit in which the students repeat specific sequences of asanas. High temperatures allow the body more freedom of movement, in that sense Bikram Yoga focuses on flexibility and can be more demanding on a physical level.
– Iyengar Yoga. Fairly suitable for beginners, as it attaches great importance to the accuracy of postures, it is beneficial for learning. In addition, this type of yoga is highly demanding on the alignment of the postures as well as in the breathing control. Iyengar often uses tools (blocks, blankets or belts) to assist the practitioner in performing good asanas.
– Ashtanga Yoga. It is heavily focused on the fluidity and speed of movements. Due to this and the short time pause between each posture, it is recommended to practice this style of yoga after learning and understanding the asanas. It was popularized by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century and is often promoted as a modern form of classical Indian yoga. It is a type of practice that requires a high level and extensive knowledge of postures. It is practiced ideally 6 times a week. A precise and good execution of each asana is necessary before you can continue with the sequence. In a directed class the most difficult postures must be modified or eliminated from the sequence.
Here we end with this little initiation to yoga for beginners! Before you start practicing, it’s important that you understand all the concepts, the characteristics of the method and the type of yoga that fits you most.