Yoga is a physical workout and that is the first thing people see and resonate with. If you have been looking into yoga already, did you find it complicated? Talk about poses, the breath, the thoughts, and diet – can be very overwhelming. So as a beginner to yoga you want a piece of the action – but where do you start. It is my hope that as a Yoga practitioner and enthusiast, this article will get you moving in the right direction.
I did yoga 20 years ago as part of my sports training and have recently picked it up again. I have been doing Yoga for quite some time now, 4 years to be exact. Back then, my coach introduced me to movements (he didn’t call any of it yoga) to bodyweight exercises like Hindu Push-Ups to increase the flexibility and strengthen my shoulder muscles. My honest opinion now is that it was a yoga derivative.
Before all this, I insisted on free-weights and exercise machines, but yoga took my fitness to a new level. Something also happened, besides getting fitter, my diet changed as a result of being fitter. This again happened when I started yoga 4 years ago.
Now, let me list the yoga poses to learn as a beginner. Now you will know the basics and what to look for when attending a class, looking for a book or artcle, or searching for DVD’s and YouTube videos.
Yoga for Beginners: First Yoga Poses You Must Learn
The Sun Salutations: Okay, this is the core of Yoga itself. This exercise is a combination of Yoga Poses, Breathing exercises, Sun Bathing and Prayer. It is practiced in Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga and others. It is the warm-up of a yoga class or personal yoga session and is a combination of poses, 12 to be exact, that are performed in a synchronized motion with emphasis on rhythmic breathing.
Sun Salutation has 3 “versions” – A, B and C – with “A” being the more traditional and more used sequence. All versions mildly exercise the arms and legs and are often recommended for obesity, depression and fitness. My friends, several African Wrestlers, Martial Artists, and Indians perform tons of rounds of these exercises alone, so in learning yoga, for beginners, this will be a guaranteed must-know. See Sateesh do 108 Sarya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) as a daily routine.
The Shoulder Stand: Intimidated? – Don’t be. Even for a beginner, this yoga pose is a piece of cake, really. It is actually a very important pose though, arguably the most important as its Sanskrit name (Sarvangasana) actually means the “all members” or “all limbs” pose, meaning it affects all parts of the body. As a beginner consider the Iyengar method of the Shoulder Stand. It will elevate your shoulders above your head relieving the stress on your neck and allowing you to get work with the pose sooner.
As a beginner, be aware that some poses (such as this one) do have specific counter poses, so if you’re taking a Yoga for beginner class or learning from a DVD or YouTube, make sure you are taught these poses to counteract and balance the effects of the Shoulder-stand pose on the body, these are the Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) and Fish poses (Matsyasana). Here’s a hint or ratio to adhere to in their combined execution: 6:1:2, meaning the ‘bridge’ and ‘fish’ poses should be held for a sixth and third of the time you spend in the Shoulder-stand Pose respectively. Start slowly, you want to work towards one set of time for a pose which is about 60 seconds.
The Corpse Pose: You’ve got to learn Savasana Yoga Pose as a beginner (this has been named to most difficult pose in yoga). It is the relaxation pose that is usually executed during and after your session as a means of relaxing the muscles used for your yoga exercise. At the end of a session, it is usually done for about 15 minutes and one always comes out feeling refreshed after its execution.
Wait, there’s more
These are the 3 main poses (mentioned above) you have to lay emphasis as a beginner to yoga, but as you improve there are other poses you should slowly add to your routine. They are.
The forward Bending exercises: Head to Knee (Janu Sirsasana) pose, Plough Pose (Halasana) and Wind-Relieving pose (yes, the FART pose, explained by Yoga by Adriene on YouTube).
The Back Bending Exercises: The Bow, Inclined Plane and (Upward Bow)Wheel Poses.
The Spinal Twists.
The Balancing Exercises: The Peacock, Crow, Side Plank and 4-limbed staff (Chaturanga Dandasana) Poses.
The Exercises in Sitting and Standing Positions. There are a number of standing poses that can be done, but there are also basic ones that beginners need to understand and master. To name a few standing poses: Mountain pose, Downward-facing Dog (which is part of the Sun Salutation), Extended Triangle pose, Half Moon pose, High and Low lunge poses, Lord of the Dance and the Warrior poses.
These will take time…so no rush is required. Just master the 3 main ones above before adding anything else to your menu.
The Abdominal and Breathing Exercises.
Breathing techniques differ across forms of yoga performed. From Breath of Fire practiced in Kundalini and Bikram yoga to Ujjayi breathing in Hatha. Ujjayi is one of the most basic breath technique to learn as it used in other most common Vinyasa yogas. So, for beginners to yoga, Ujjayi is a starting point.
Each of these groups has several variations on the root poses; however, let me tell you a secret that would go a long way in aiding you as a beginner learning Yoga. Do at least 30 to 40 rounds of the previously mentioned Sun Salutations and the ease in executing these poses will come almost naturally. Trust me.
Finding a Yoga as a Beginner
There are several styles of Yoga to pick from and in seeking the right style of Yoga for a beginner; it might be quite difficult to pick the best. However, since Iyengar Yoga involves a lot of props that can aid until flexibility is re-gained or enhanced – it may be the yoga of choice at the beginning.
If you’re active already – playing sports or lifting weights – it may that easier choices to pick is Hatha, Bikram or Vinyasa. It will depend on your fitness level and what resonates with you. We have a guided list call “What Yoga To Choose” that can help you discover what can fit your needs.
To find the best yoga for beginner class around you, you can always check your local YMCA or YWCA branches as they almost always carry information on Yoga classes for all stages: from beginner to intermediate.
Ideally, one other factor that I must stress is the need to also pick up a Yoga diet for health and aiding these poses to both strengthen and detoxify you. This will-as a result of the symbiotic relationship that exists between Yoga and a proper diet-speed up an increase in fitness, weight loss, focus and the ability to execute these poses easily.
A new diet would be ideal but it is not necessary. I don’t want you to feel discouraged at the beginning because that is the time when you are adding something very big in your life and too many things at once will stop you from taking the first step.
As a coach and a mentor, I believe in starting somewhere and building from there. As long as you learn and continually improving, then new things can be added – everything eventually will fall into place.
Don’t get me wrong, diet is important but not when you’re first starting. You can do the research or consider what people are telling you…but your plate will be full already. As you get better and move away from being a complete newbie, you will eventually want “the next thing”. Feeling better mentally and physically through exercising will make you want to improve – on your own.
As a beginner to yoga, it may be best to learn from a certified instructor – BUT WAIT, YOU DON”T NEED A CLASS – if an instructor put a video out there then use it. Learning on your own IS still required for you to become better and to reap the benefits. However you want to practice and learn on your own, there are heaps of books, DVD’s and YouTube to help with this.
Food for thought if you’re already active
Consider this – as a beginner doing yoga, not unless you intend to perform tons of Sun Salutations as mentioned above, you may possibly still choose to combine some body-weight resistance poses (that co-incidentally are still Yogic in origin) such as the Hindu-Push-ups, Squats and the Bridge pose (now this is and Hindu push-ups are basically Yoga poses in motion friends …).
This combination will see that until you have understood the use of Yoga poses to make a complete session, you are still burning up enough calories and exercising the muscles for both weight loss and fitness.
Go for it and find something new that excites you.
Doing Yoga is fun, exhilarating and extremely rewarding for a number of reasons that may have already got you researching about it, so it is now obvious, choosing this exercise, even as a beginner, will go a very long way into creating a fitter and healthier you.