Yoga beginners should start a yoga practice with useful and practical guidelines. Voila!
A compilation of good practices that will enable you to get value from your yoga. It should also make your routine easy and fun!
Everything works out better if you know what you want to achieve and how to achieve it. Correct planning is the key to the success of your exercising routine and yoga is no exception.
One of the most popular methods is to set SMART goals. It helps you set and achieve your goals.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. You can read more about setting fitness goals the SMART way here.
Keep in mind that yoga may affect many aspects of your life – mind, body, and spirit. Set goals that will allow you to get what you want from practicing yoga.
You may want to practice yoga for the physical benefits it provides your body. Such as improved strength, flexibility, and balance. Or increased muscle tone for a leaner appearance.
Or you may want to practice yoga to clear your mind. A way to rejuvenate, feel less stressed or anxious – use it to cope with daily challenges and obstacles.
If you want to harness your spiritual side, the eight limbs of yoga can lead to a more fulfilling life.
It could be a combination of these. In any sense, specifying your goals helps you to understand what you want to achieve with yoga.
Once you know what result you’re after, you’ll be able to prepare a plan of action. Of course, your objectives may change, but as a yoga beginner, it’s a great way to start your yoga journey.
BEST TIME AND PLACE TO PRACTICE YOGA
The best times for yoga are in the morning before breakfast and early evening around sunset. A time when there’ll be little distraction or disturbance.
But like most things in life, yoga does not fall into the category of one size fits all.
Different people prefer different hours, places and ways of practicing yoga. In most cases, all choices are correct, but it boils down to you.
Plan your yoga sessions in a way that will feel right for you. Whether you have the time to practice when you please, or you have to squeeze it in after work.
When to practice yoga?
The time of day that you choose for your yoga session will depend on many factors. Such as when you have the most time for yourself, when you’re not so tired and your body is most flexible.
Your daily meal schedule may also impact your yoga plan. After all, it’s recommended to practice on an empty stomach or 2-3 hours after eating.
Training in the morning is one of the most popular ways of practicing yoga. You get to start your day in a peaceful and relaxed way. Waking up your body with soft stretches and twists often gives a boost of energy to tackle your daily tasks.
Yoga sessions during the day are not as common, as early and late afternoons are the hours most spent at work. Yet, this is ok if you work at home, or have a working schedule with a long lunch break. You can incorporate a brief yoga session during this time.
It can benefit you by boosting your energy and allowing you to refocus. Going back to work after a brief yoga break is much easier.
The second popular method is to practice yoga in the evening. When you have finished your afternoon tasks, you can spend some time relaxing your body after a hard day of work.
Many yoga studios offer classes of restorative yoga, which take place in the evening. It’s soothing and relieves tension from the day’s activities.
Additionally, practicing yoga before bed helps with your sleep. With a comfortable night’s rest, you’ll wake up feeling rejuvenated.
Where to practice yoga?
The place you practice should also reflect your approach to yoga and what you’d like to achieve.
Possibilities and experiences vary from doing yoga in a particular location. You have several options to choose from.
Your own house is usually the most comfortable and cozy place to practice yoga. At home, you can relax and focus on your asanas and difficulties that you may encounter
A quiet corner where nobody will disturb you and a quality mat is all you need to open your own yoga studio.
You work out, meditate and stretch at your own tempo. Exercising at home is a good introduction to yoga classes. It helps to prepare for group activities, especially if concerned with your performance.
But, practicing yoga at home does have some disadvantages. There are many distractions that can pull you away from your routine. Plus, you don’t get expert instruction on form and technique that you’d get from a yoga instructor.
Outside is another place where you can do your yoga. But outdoor training is not always possible due to local weather conditions.
Yoga practiced in the open can be a refreshing experience – a local park, garden, beach or a forest. Loads of fresh air pairs well with yoga breathing techniques. Together, it assists the flow of oxygen through your body.
Many people choose to practice with other people at a yoga studio. This has plenty of advantages that are lacking at home or outside. Particularly for yoga beginners.
Studios offer spacious rooms, essential equipment and the help of professional trainers.
This expert mentoring will help you learn and progress in a safe way. It’s also a great way to create relationships with others who are passionate about yoga.
What about ambient conditions?
Certain conditions can affect your yoga routine and how you feel. Here are some examples of what else yoga beginners could consider.
Bright light can be invigorating, refreshing and awakening. Practicing yoga in the sun or in a sunny room makes it easier to recharge your batteries.
Yet, closing the blinds, dimming the light or having several candles lit, can help you relax and calm down. Restorative yoga is often practiced this way.
Colour and Chakras For Yoga Practice
Colour has an effect on your subconscious mind and is more powerful than you realise.
Varying colours mean different things to each person. They have varied wavelengths and frequencies which affect different parts of your brain.
Chakras are the Sanskrit word for wheel, they are spinning energy centers in your body. Chakras send and transfer energies from your surroundings to your body and vice-versa.
There are 7 notable chakras linked to your nervous system from the base of your spine to the top of your head.
There is a relationship between colours and chakras. Each colour of the visible spectrum is unique to a particular chakra. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. (Similar to Phatmat colours)
These colours are frequencies of light that resonate with your energy centers. Since these colours enhance your chakras, they can influence your well-being.
You may want to light your room, wear clothes or think of a certain colour as you practice yoga to see how it affects you.
Red – Root chakra – located at the base of the spine.
Orange – Sacral chakra – located in your lower abdomen
Yellow – Solar plexus chakra – located in your upper abdomen
Green – Heart chakra – located in the middle of your chest
Blue – Throat chakra – located at the bottom of your throat
Indigo – Third eye chakra – located between your eyebrows
Violet – Crown chakra – located at the top of your head
For many people, balancing breathing and exercising demands plenty of concentration. Music and loud sounds make it harder. That’s why most yoga sequences go without music and talking during sessions.
But, if you feel like music helps with your yoga, choose music that compliments your routine.
Depending on the type of yoga, you may consider regulating the temperature in your room.
More static types of yoga can cause you to get cold, especially if you train barefoot.
Yoga which involves a lot of dynamic moving, is best practiced in a room of lower temperature.
Some yoga studios, such as Bikram, practice yoga in a room of highly-set temperatures.
WHAT DOES A YOGA SESSION INCLUDE?
The components of a particular yoga session depend on where and what you practice. Most studios focus on a particular type of yoga and some have various types of yoga.
It’s daunting for yoga beginners, but regardless of the type of practice, expect yoga sessions to involve the following:
This is the physical aspect of the discipline. Many people turn to yoga due to the impact of the poses (asanas) on their bodies. It’s an obvious component of every session.
Breathing compliments and completes asanas. If you exercise alone – pay close attention to breathing techniques. If you’re attending classes – follow your teacher’s instructions.
Also known as a ‘corpse pose’, Savasana usually ends a yoga session. It is when you lie flat on your back and relax, allowing your body to rest. You should not leave the group classes during Savasana.
This important and symbolic mantra will either take place at the beginning or end of a yoga class.
When starting out in yoga, many people feel uncomfortable performing this mantra. But it actually provides many benefits.
BEFORE YOU START YOGA
Prepare yourself for each yoga session by taking the time to ready your body and mind.
Consider these tips and guidelines if you want to be well prepared each time. This way you can benefit most from your practice.
Be mindful your diet
Try not to practice yoga right after a heavy meal. Many poses will turn your belly’s contents upside down and that may not end well.
You shouldn’t practice hungry either, you don’t want the distraction of a rumbling.
But, you do need energy for optimal performance during your yoga practice.
Demanding types of yoga such as Ashtanga requires a light snack before practice. A banana or a handful of nuts should suffice.
It’s good practice to warm-up before asanas, particularly for yoga beginners practicing dynamic types of yoga.
The less stiff you are, the better your muscles, joints, and tendon will feel before heavy practice.
Don’t force it
As you practice yoga, you may encounter poses that you are unable to do. Reasons for this can be many – age, natural inflexibility, body structure, injuries and so on.
It’s good to try and push your limits but don’t overdo it. Know where to draw a line and only train those poses your body feels comfortable with.
Yoga teaches you to be in tune with our bodies. Under no circumstances should yoga be painful!
Breathing is a very important part of yoga practice. Before you begin exercising, you should know how to breathe on every pose.
If you’re not attending classes with a teacher who will instruct you how to breathe, do your own research. Yoga beginners should learn breathing techniques early rather than later.
You may struggle to remember all the breathing patterns when starting out. But rest assured – this will change as you practice.
Be patient – you’ve set your yoga goals!
Although it helps, you don’t have to be flexible or strong as a beginner yogi. Neither should you expect the desired results after one session.
By now you would have set your yoga goals and know when and what you want to achieve. Be patient and don’t get discouraged – with time, you will notice how you’ve progressed.
YOGA BEGINNERS MOST COMMON MISTAKES
When you screw up, skip a workout or eat a bad meal, it doesn’t make you a bad person – it makes you human.
Sometimes mistakes happen and they are an incredible learning experience. But, there are common mistakes that beginner yogis should be aware of.
Avoiding the following mistakes should keep you progressing towards your yoga goals.
Paying in advance for long and expensive courses or classes
Yoga beginners might think that spending a lot of money on prepaid yoga courses or classes will motivate you to attend.
In some cases, it does work. Yet, it’s not something that you should do when starting out.
You have set your yoga goals and know exactly what you want to achieve from it. But there are many yoga types and techniques, which may not work out for you.
These are things that we often don’t know about before we attend the class. Pay for a smaller number of classes to save you money in case something doesn’t work out for you.
Training with an unqualified instructor
The popularity of yoga is expanding as it promotes a positive and healthy lifestyle. But some people take advantage of this.
People without adequate training call themselves yoga experts and attempt leading yoga classes. This can be harmful on many levels, both physical and mental.
Yoga teachers must understand its philosophy to be capable of being an instructor. Ensure your yoga teacher has accredited qualifications and understands their responsibilities.
YOGA DOUBTS AND FEARS
Yoga isn’t that different from other challenges you face, doubts can occupy your mind. A thought such as “is this even for me” or “people will look at me”.
Defeating these thoughts is a challenge in itself for yoga beginners. But remember there is always something that can help you soothe these doubts.
First of all, remember that yoga is everywhere. There are yoga enthusiasts from every race, religion, age group, and gender. Everyone can do it. There’s something for everybody in yoga and you can find value in it too.
Don’t forget that if you struggle with motivation or fear that you’ll quit, you can rely on other people. Invite your friends to try yoga with you to deepen your bond with them and motivate one another.
Yoga classes serve the same purpose. It is there where many new friendships begin.
If doubts and fears about yoga cloud your thoughts, think about the positives instead. Think about the many benefits that yoga can bring you. Reflect also on your goals and remember exactly what you wish to achieve by practicing yoga.