If you are just beginning to learn about yoga, you may be unsure about many things. You may be asking the question, “What exactly is yoga, how do I begin and what will it do for me?”
Yoga is viewed by advanced practitioners as a vast science that requires a lifetime of learning and dedication, and rightly so. However, you can easily implement the most basic yet powerful parts of it into your life and start feeling the wonderful health benefits of yoga immediately.
First and foremost, yoga is a stilling of the mind, a quieting of the endless chatter that we have swirling constantly in our brains. When we achieve that stillness, profound results occur. The union of body, mind, breath and spirit is the core and central aspect of yoga. The word yoga means “union.”
Breath is life! In yoga, a key component is focusing on the flow and rhythm of the breath. This breath control is called Pranayama, and there are several Pranayama breathing techniques that can be performed during a practice of yoga positions for beginners. Deep breathing is utilized to bring in more oxygen and energy to the body and to release stress from the muscles to promote a relaxing effect. As a result of controlled breathing, the mind begins to focus and settle. As the mind settles, the body follows, and the mind, body and breath all become one, eventually raising the functionality of the body and heightening the consciousness levels of the brain. Once you have achieved that deep meditative state of mind, you are now ready to enjoy the immense health benefits of yoga.
Meditation is a stilling of the mind through focusing on one central point. One meditation technique is through breath awareness; focusing on the breath. There are many techniques to achieve meditation, breath control being just one of them. You can also achieve a meditative state by using a Mantra. When the mind is settled and given a chance to rest, it becomes more productive when eventually called upon, just as muscles become more productive after given a chance to recuperate after a strenuous workout.
Let’s now focus on the physical movements of yoga (the physical stretches and moves, called Asanas.) There are a few basic yoga positions for beginners that, once learned, begin to stretch and stimulate the entire body and spine. These moves have a profound effect on your entire physiology. They increase blood flow, promote joint mobility, increase flexibility of the muscles and have an entirely balancing effect on the body. Seeing some of the poses that are in magazines or books may be intimidating and look like they would be impossible to do. Forcing yourself into extreme contortions is not necessary in order to reap the benefits of yoga. Stick with basic yoga movements that feel good and your body will reward you.
You will see and feel many beneficial results from a basic and simple yoga practice. However, in order to see and feel the benefits, it is very important to practice yoga on a regular basis, not just occasionally. The best part is that once you begin to feel the benefits of yoga, you will naturally want to make it a part of your life. The beauty of beginning yoga is all about the transformation you will experience once the body, mind, breath and spirit are linked. Begin a simple yoga practice that you can do every day, a practice that you can bring with you everywhere. You don’t need special equipment for yoga, just yourself and a willingness to learn and practice the basics. You need nothing other than yourself to find your true Self.