Did you know that the word “Yoga” means “to merge” or “to unite”? Based on the principle of balance, yoga postures – asanas – seek to create a perfect harmony that connects your body with your mind. It is a method that has existed for about 4000 years. If you want to start practicing it, in addition to the yoga poses, you will have to be familiarized with its origins, characteristics and benefits.
This physical, mental and emotional discipline was born in India, and today it is one of the most popular sports practices in the world. Closely related to meditation, it is an effective method to strengthen both physical and mental state. Yoga is one of the best ways for self-awareness. It has existed for so long and has had such a long geographical extension that today there are about 100 different yoga disciplines. Each one can adapt these methods to his own body and mind: yoga is not rigid and inflexible. It is a tool for self-awareness and control, regardless from age or physical condition. This is why it is practiced so widely in the modern world: it is not only a physical strengthening technique, but it is also highly appreciated for its relaxing properties. Yoga moves us away from the stresses of daily life and helps us to focus on ourselves again.
The ideal is to practice yoga between 15 minutes and an hour a day. Before you start practicing your postures, you will have to focus on your breathing, focusing on it until you get away from worldly thoughts. Between each posture, you can stretch yourself on top of your mat with your arms and legs slightly open, being aware of your breathing and relaxing, to feel all the effects of the asana you have just performed.
Here we present four of the most basic yoga postures.
Cat Pose (Marjariasana): Cat-Pose is useful to relieve back and joint pain and to improve you circulation.
Stand on your four, with your legs slightly separated. The knees should be just below the hips and the hands under the shoulders. Synchronize the movements with your breathing. Inhale as you lower your abdomen to the floor, raise your hips and look up. Hold this position. Then exhale, arch your back and place your head between your arms looking at your navel. Repeat both movements five times.
Cow pose (Bidalasana): Cat Pose to Cow Pose (or Cat-Cow) is one of the best and most basic combinations to start off the Yoga practice. Both improve posture, balance and coordination while stretching hip muscles, abdomens and back. To move into the Cow Pose from the Cat Pose, inhale while lifting your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, as you drop your belly towards the floor. Lift your chin and tailbone towards the ceiling without putting any unnecessary pressure on your neck. Now you are at the Cow Pose.
To move back into the Cat Pose, exhale while drawing your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. Repeat this flowing vinyasa for 10-20 times while connecting your breath to each movement.
Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svansana): This transitional pose will help you rest in your Vinyasa sequence. Helps to stiffen your neck, stretch your muscles at the back of your legs and strengthen your ankles by creating arches.
To start the pose, come to your hands and knees. Your wrists should be aligned underneath the shoulders and the knees under the hips. Spread your fingers to your mat, keeping your middle finger parallel to the dies of your mat. Inhale and curl your back toes under. Exhale while pushing your back upwards, raising the hips. Slowly straighten and stretch your legs one by one until your inner heels are hidden behind the balls of your feet. Allow your head to relax by gazing at your feet. Stay for 5 breaths.
Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1): This standing Asana helps strengthen, stabilize and stretch your legs, arms, hips and ankles while opening your hips, chests and lungs. Apart from its physical benefits, this pose strengthens your connection with the Earth’s energy and improves your focus.
We suggest you to step into this pose from Downward Facing Dog. From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot forward between your hands, turn your back heel to a 45 degree angle and lower your heel to the floor, keeping your right and left heels aligned. Make sure that your right knee is directly aligned on top of your ankle, not going past it. Then inhale while reaching your arms straight upwards. Feel your energy flowing from your legs to your fingertips. Tilt your head back and gaze up at your thumbs. You can keep your palms parallel to each other if you can’t bring them together. Stay for 5-6 breaths. Exhale while lowering your hands down to the floor and releasing yourself. Repeat the posture on your left side.
You can start with this short session integrated by four yoga postures, especially prepared for beginners. We recommend you to continue learning with a qualified yoga teacher as long as you can. We as Shambhala Barcelona, will continue contributing our bit by suggesting simple routines with which you’ll be able to practice at home.
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Photo credit: mana_yoga wearing our Deva Bra and Brahma Short in Purple Hawaii