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Yoga : Basics and Why It Helps

Person doing yoga on the beach at sunrise.

Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale…

If you are thinking of trying a new exercise, then yoga is the way to go. Unlike other sports or forms of exercise, yoga does not only strengthen your body but also relaxes your mind and motivates your spirit. Yoga is the union of the mind, body and spirit. It is being one with the universe, leading to unification and enlightenment. Practicing this exercise includes postures or poses, breathing and even internal cleansing and cultivating the life-energy as it is also a form of meditation.

Basic Guidelines

Yoga can be done at home or in a yoga studio near you. An advantage to going to a yoga studio in the beginning is you can learn the correct way to do the poses since a yoga instructor is present to teach and correct them, and you can meet other people who are into this form of exercise, too. In this way, you can share your experience about how it is beneficial your health and wellbeing and get more motivation to really include practicing yoga regularly into your life.

Yoga is simple enough – a quiet place and a yoga mat are pretty much everything you need. Here are some basics though.

Woman doing a yoga pose on a rock over a lake.
The excellent thing about yoga is that it can be done almost anywhere!

1. What to wear?

Going to the gym might require you some spandex type clothes but in yoga you can wear clothes that are loose and comfortable such as leggings and tights and pair it with a shirt of your choice. What is most important is that your clothing of choice is comfortable and will not restrict your movement.

2. How long should I do it?

As a beginner you should start slowly. Do not push yourself to the limit and you should be very attuned to your body and its cues. You can start your practice depending on your schedule, objectives and ability. Start with 15 to 30 minutes, after some time, 15 to 90 minutes. You can practice 1 to 6 times a week. Always remember practicing longer but less frequently can be better than practicing for shorter periods but more frequently.

3. What to do and what not to do?

As mentioned earlier, do not push yourself too much! Do the basic poses first before moving on to the more challenging ones. Also, if you have any medical issues it is best to consult your yoga master or your medical doctor to prevent injuries or further harm.

Benefits of Yoga: Mind, Body and Soul

After getting prepared physically and mentally, the next thing you should know are the benefits you can get from yoga. This exercise does not only affect the physical body but also the mental state of the person doing it.

Woman meditating on a lake-side dock.
Meditating is an important aspect of many yoga programs.

1. Improves the health of the muscles, joints and even the heart.

This can help lower blood pressure and pulse rate, reducing the risk of heart problems. In doing yoga, it involves almost every body part to move, this also improves your flexibility and balance.

2. Improves the quality of life.

Yoga develops discipline, devotion and mindfulness in you as it involves not only the body to move but also the mind to be more disciplined, focused and calm.

3. Improves mental health.

Doing yoga relaxes your mind and rejuvenates the spirit. This can reduce stress, relieve anxiety and fight depression. It helps lessen the symptoms of anxiety and depression as it reduces the levels of cortisol or stress hormone and also controls the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked with depression.

Basic Poses

Person doing a tree pose on the beach.
The tree pose.

 

 

 

 

 

After knowing how it can benefit you, aren’t you excited to try it out! If yes, then here are some of the basic poses you can do even at home.

1. Corpse Pose

Lie of your back in a neutral position with your arms at your sides. Relax your arms with your palms up. Relax your legs and your feet and close your eyes. Breathe naturally and let your muscles completely relax. Stay in this position for a few minutes.

2. Downward Facing Dog

Bend down in all fours, stretching your arms further from your head, somehow forming an acute triangle. Lift your hips slightly upwards and hollow your abdominals, holding your breath 5 to 8 counts.

3. Tree

Begin from standing position, your weight distributed evenly on both feet. Shift your weight to your left foot and slowly anchor your right foot on your inner thigh. Center yourself, balance and press your palms in prayer position at chest level. Inhale and keep to this pose for up to a minute.

4. Triangle

Stretch your legs apart forming an acute triangle and reaching the leg further from the other with one hand to your knees, then the other arm reaching straight upwards. Turn your gaze to the top hand and hold your breath for 5 to 8 counts. This could strengthen your legs and tone the entire body.

Doing yoga during sunset.
Yoga is an excellent activity to incorporate into your life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga is an exciting exercise to try out because not only can it give you many benefits but also it can help you improve your lifestyle and have a healthier perspective of things. Doing so relaxes your mind and motivates your spirit. Unite with the universe and enlighten your health!