Yoga is an ancestral spiritual discipline of Hindu, Buddhist and Jainist origin. In the West, this practice is much less spiritual, because it is oriented more towards gymnastic sessions based on sequences of postures called "asanas". There are several forms of yoga: some insist on strengthening the muscles of the body, others on relaxation or even the circulation of energy, stretching, etc. In reality, given a fairly wide range of styles, each of you will find the yoga that suits you best. Some yoga teachers may focus on postures, others on meditation or breath control.
Part 1 of 3: start yoga
Step 1. Define your motivations for doing yoga
Before you try out a class, find out why you want to do yoga. You might decide to be physically active, learn to manage your stress, take a more therapeutic approach to treating illnesses and injuries, or even be able to thrive in order to achieve inner peace.
- Take a moment to think about what you want to achieve in your search for wellness. You may want to gain flexibility, strengthen your muscles, become more enduring, reduce anxiety and depression. You might not have such specific goals in mind, but just feel better about your body.
- Set goals for your yoga practice. Do not hesitate to regularly review your goals. Add other elements of motivation and above all, do not change them too often in order to have the satisfaction of reaching them. So, for example, you could decide to practice every day or to succeed in holding a posture.
Step 2. Don't think that there are some styles of yoga that are better than others
The different approaches reveal very different ways of seeing yoga. In addition, sometimes you will find yourself facing people with more experience than you. The competitive spirit does not exist in this discipline unlike other more traditional activities. Your goal is essentially personal, focused on a conscious, energetic and relaxing practice. Your life will be enriched and your body will reap the benefits of the different postures you perform.
- Yoga is accessible to everyone, even to beginners. If you can fit your sessions into your routine, you will benefit both physically and mentally, if only for 10 minutes a day.
- Finding the yoga that's right for you can take time. You may change teachers several times and you may take different paths to finally feel in harmony with the chosen discipline.
- Adopt an open attitude by welcoming your postures without judgment. Transform your negative thoughts like, "I'm not cut out for yoga, I'm too stiff," into, "Thanks to yoga, I will finally gain flexibility. "
- Remember, there is no such thing as competition in yoga. The objectives are specific to each. You will not have to compare yourself to others in your progress since the motivations are different for each practitioner.
Step 3. Equip yourself to have your own material
At the very least, you need to get yourself a yoga mat. Other accessories can be used like straps, blocks, large blankets and bolsters suitable for yoga practice. Judge for yourself whether it is necessary to purchase this type of material. These accessories generally facilitate the practice of this discipline by making the holding of the postures more comfortable and more in depth.
Yoga accessories are available at sports stores and in most places where this activity is offered. Of course, you can find these articles on the Internet
Step 4. Dress in loose, breathable clothing
Treat yourself to a comfortable outfit capable of effectively wicking away perspiration. Yoga requires great freedom of movement. Inappropriate clothing will prevent you from getting the most out of yoga's benefits.
- Don't feel like you have to buy clothes specially designed for yoga. The teacher will recommend a loose and comfortable outfit. Women can wear leggings, a tank top, a bra to keep the chest tight. Men can wear shorts that they use for other sporting activities and a t-shirt.
- Some postures require clothing that is fitted without being tight to avoid, for example, a top that uncovers you when you lean forward or even pants that fall.
- If you have chosen bikram yoga, which is practiced in rooms more heated than normal temperature, or even jivamukti, which is more sporty and intense, your outfit will necessarily be lighter and more absorbent.
Step 5. Make yourself comfortable
You may decide to try yoga at home first. In this case, find yourself a place that guarantees peace and quiet, with enough space, away from any traffic.
- Make sure you have space on either side of the mat. Avoid doing your postures near a wall, near objects or any other obstacle.
- The place in which you will evolve must guarantee you the peace and calm you seek while avoiding any disturbing source. The room you have chosen should offer you the ideal conditions to feel comfortable. Avoid, for example, damp and cool basements.
Step 6. Start with the sun salutation
As yoga falls into the category of muscle-straining activities, it is important to start your session with an appropriate warm-up. Give several sun salutations called surya namaskar. This sequence will perfectly prepare the body and the mind in the rest of the postures.
The sun salutation can be done in 3 different ways. You will repeat the different variants of surya namaskar 2 or 3 times to warm up. Each type of greeting will put you in good muscle and flexibility conditions to continue your movements
Step 7. Practice selecting a few poses
There is a wide variety of asanas, from the simplest and most relaxing to the most difficult and intense. Before you test them all, pick a few that you feel comfortable with and have fun doing them. You will then be able to achieve your goals without difficulty.
- The postures can be classified into 4 categories: sitting postures, inverted postures, forward bending postures and backward bending postures.
- Among the movements to be done in a standing position, you have the mountain pose (tadasana), the tree (bhujangasana) and the series of warrior postures in 3 versions (virabhadrasana).
- In the inverted postures you will find balance on the hands (mukha vrksasana) and balance on the head (salamba sirsasana).
- In the back bends you will meet the grasshopper (aalabhasana), the cobra (bhujangasana) and the bridge (setu bandha sarvangasana).
- Twists can be added to your routine to strengthen and stretch your spine with back and forth movements. You can add the bharadvaja posture (bharadvajasana) or the seated twist of the Matsyendra fish (ardha matsyendrasana).
- You will discover in the front bends the back stretch posture (paschimottanasana) and the star (tarasana).
- End your session with the corpse (savasana), a posture which will reveal all the benefits of the previous postures.
- Each posture will take you between 3 to 5 breaths.
- Make sure you work both sides of the body in the same way to avoid accentuating any imbalance and at the same time rebalancing your whole body.
- wikiHow has some great tutorials for beginners. You will also find hundreds of postures while surfing the Internet.
Step 8. Focus your attention on the breath
Breath control exercises, called pranayama, are the foundation of yoga. This practice will accentuate the positive effects of the postures. Breathing will allow you to be more attentive to your feelings and will bring you into a desired state of relaxation.
- Pranayama will help bring the necessary oxygen to your body. You will reach a deeper state through the full breaths in and out through the nostrils as you become aware of the passage of air through each of them. You can, for example, breathe in for a long time and calmly, hold for a few seconds, then breathe out in the same way, 4 times in a row. There are many variations of pranayama.
- If you want to optimize your breathing control, sit up with your back straight and your shoulders slightly back to avoid hunched over. Breathe slowly at a steady pace, paying your attention first to your stomach, inflating it and then gradually moving up to your lungs and rib cage.
- Try the warrior's breath or ujjayi. This breathing will greatly improve the benefits of the postures. Inhale and exhale regularly through your nose, letting a light sound pass from your throat, much like a wave.
Step 9. Spend time practicing yoga
Whatever postures, breathing exercises, your goals, remember to practice as often as you can. 10 to 15 minutes is enough in a day. The more time you spend in your yoga sessions, the greater the benefits.
Settle down in a zen atmosphere with a musical background and some candles. You have the possibility to practice outdoors if you wish. You will therefore immerse yourself in an atmosphere conducive to relaxation and you will put aside all your concerns
Part 2 of 3: Joining a Yoga Class
Step 1. Define which style of yoga you want to orient yourself towards
Practices may vary from course to course. Try several types of yoga and try out a few teachers, naturally you will go to the class that seems best for you.
- Ask yourself about your motivations. Do not hesitate to ask yourself a certain number of questions, your answers will lead you to make the best choice.
- "Do I want to strengthen my muscles, tone up, be healthy?" »Try vinyasa, ashtanga, or jivamkuti.
- "I would like more flexibility, but I don't know which course is right for me?" Think of the bikram, the lyengar, the Kundalini or the hatha.
- "I need to relax, where do I register? »Try regenerative yoga, yin, sivananda or even jivamukti.
- "I would like to restore my dynamism, what can I do?" Most styles of yoga bring you into this cycle, especially kundalini, regenerative yoga, sivananda, yin, but also jivamukti.
- “I would like to get out of my confidence zone by challenging myself, which yoga would suit me? »Orient yourself to ashtanga, jivamukti.
Step 2. Turn to an experienced teacher
Note that there are no state diplomas or federation recognized by the state or even European diplomas. Organizations and federations offer training courses generally leading to the obtaining of certificates. Select an experienced and qualified teacher in the style of yoga you have chosen. You will recognize a good teacher by his qualities and his confidence.
- The yoga teacher will accompany you by helping you throughout the session.
- This same teacher will adopt an attitude that is at the same time positive, welcoming and energizing.
- The teacher will have accumulated a certain knowledge on everything related to yoga and in particular, the philosophy, the practice and the history of this discipline.
- The teacher will establish a real dialogue with you, if you wish, by advising you and making regular comments on your practice.
Step 3. Find a place or group in which you will feel comfortable
The styles are so varied that it is necessary to stop in the one which seems to us to correspond well. Also know that the atmosphere is a fundamental element in the practice of yoga with the notion of energy that circulates. In order to establish a climate of trust, some courses offer something to eat a little or develop the social dimension by promoting dialogue in the group.
- Take into account the level of other participants. Do you prefer to progress in a course where you will feel pushed by others? Would you rather join a group of homogeneous level? A good structure will offer you several levels of difficulty, from beginner to advanced, as well as more specific courses such as prenatal or postnatal yoga.
- Most of the trial sessions are free. Do not hesitate to test sessions in several places, with different teachers or even in the same structure, try a few lessons. There are several styles of yoga that you might eventually fall for, and if you have enough time, sign up for these different classes. You will benefit from this in your yoga practice.
Step 4. Don't hesitate to make your contribution
A good number of structures also need help in the form of services. You could propose yourself at the reception, sweep certain rooms, clean the changing rooms. Ask the studio team if they need you. She will be very grateful to you because, thanks to you, the expense item will be lighter. You will feel that sense of belonging to a group that is so beneficial to the mind.
Step 5. Take an interest in the online course
While there is no substitute for physical participation and exchange in a yoga class, you can supplement your knowledge and practice by going online or with apps. You will discover a wide range of videos with postures that you would not have even imagined.
- By carrying out a quick search, you will find postures for all levels and in free access.
- Check the Internet for the qualifications of the chosen yoga teacher. Make sure that this teacher has a sufficiently long and quality training to teach.
- Some sites offer one-on-one sessions with a qualified teacher using a web camera. You may want to consider this alternative if you are unable to physically attend a yoga class.
Part 3 of 3: Progressing in Yoga Practice
Step 1. Set your intention
In other words, mentally place yourself in a posture of preparation and welcome for your yoga session. For that, you will take a few seconds to dedicate this sequence of postures to something or to someone, you will reinforce the benefits of the session which will be more complete.
- Get into a prayer position with your hands on your knees, palms facing out. You can open your hands to allow more energy to flow.
- If you are having trouble expressing an intention, think of something that you would like to bring out within yourself that would take the weight off yourself.
Step 2. Gradually increase the time spent in your yoga session
As you practice regularly, you will feel more and more confident in your postures. This will therefore be the time to increase the time of your session by holding your postures longer. You will feel greater harmony after each movement. Program yourself more and more difficult asanas if you can.
Typically, lessons last between 60 and 90 minutes. So try to stick to this duration
Step 3. Intensify your yoga session
You could increase the intensity as soon as you get settled into some sort of routine. Hold your postures longer and increase the difficulty while working deep.
- Lunge or squat asanas can be held a little shorter.
- To increase the intensity, you can do more quickly between each posture.
- A more complex posture to perform will intensify your yoga session by taking one of the 4 basic postures and adding difficulty. For example, the posture on the head called sirsasana can be carried out at first by using a wall or by keeping the tiptoes on the ground then, once the balance acquired, you will raise your legs gradually to the vertical, unassisted.
Step 4. Increase the pace of your sessions
One of the best ways to get deep into your yoga practice is to fit more yoga time into your schedule. You could even gradually practice every day. If your yoga is part of your daily routine for the week, expect to derive real benefit from it for both your mind and your physical well-being.
Step 5. Start meditating
Many practitioners like to start their session with meditation or singing. This first step allows you to move away parasitic thoughts, to focus on your breathing and energy and to develop your awareness of body and mind.
- You can start your meditation or chanting by saying and repeating the sound "ohm", the simplest but most important mantra.
- If you sing, you will feel vibrations in the lower abdomen from these sounds or mantras. If nothing is noticeable, sit up straight.
- You will discover many other mantras. The maha mantra, for example, still called the great maha mantra or hare Krishna, will allow you to achieve salvation and peace of mind. You will repeat the following sequence: hare Krishna, hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, hare hare, hare rama, hare rama, rama rama, hare hare.
- Welcome your thoughts whenever they arise. This will help you learn to focus and let go of what you cannot control.
- Whenever you feel the need to focus, repeat “release” as you breathe in and “hold” as you exhale several times.
- Meditation occupies an important place in yoga. It is practiced regularly. Accept that your daily life is punctuated by good times and bad times.
Step 6. Set New Goals
Initially, you may have set yourself a single goal of becoming a healthy adult, or finding a way to relax in full awareness. It's time to set a new goal. If your initial goal was physical only or mental only, make the next goal encompass both of these.
Discover other songs or other ways of meditating, your practice will gain in depth
Step 7. Go ahead
Yoga holds quite an impressive number of treasures even if the postures you perform do not exactly resemble those of yogis. The main thing lies in the conscious adherence to the path that yoga shows to all its practitioners, regardless of the goal set. Open your mind and heart constantly.
- Yoga postures should not cause pain. If you feel any pain, correct the posture by returning to a simpler movement. Do not force especially and if the pain reappears, change your posture.
- The steps leading up to the final pose are important and pay attention to them. You can also injure yourself during this phase by wanting to accelerate or by forcing a little too much.