Yoga literally means being one, first with your inner self and then with the supreme being. It is one of easiest ways to keep yourself fit, and here we would cover some basics of yoga.
Before you enrol in a Yoga class or purchase a DVD, it is very important for you to understand what type of yoga will suit you best. Patanjali and Ashtanga yoga are the oldest and purest forms of Yoga. New versions like Bikram yoga, Power yoga, etc have come up well and have their own group of loyal practitioners. There is no absolute right or wrong here, go for the one that appeals to your sense and sensibilities.
While Yoga is a very simple practice, it also has subtle nuisances which if done wrongly, can harm our bodies. It is best that you first consult a medical practitioner and analyse yourself. Then you should find for yourself a Guru who will help you find balance of mind and body. Being experts, they also know what all to take care of when constructing a module.
If you have any medical conditions, freely discuss them with your instructor so that he/she can customise asanas accordingly. Just to give you an example, while asanas like Mayurasana increases blood pressure, Uttansana reduces it. Every pose has a different effect on our body.
Let us now briefly understand the two main parts – the pose i.e. Asana and the breathing i.e. Pranayama. Yoga helps your inner and outer self to become one, and thus a perfect harmony between the pose you take and the way you breathe is of utmost importance.
Asana – while different writings give a different number of asanas, varying from 66 to 1300, most texts agree with the 84 asanas made by Lord Shiva. Asanas can be classified using different methods:
- By Benefit – this is the easiest and most followed classification as most of us start Yoga for specific reasons. So we have yogasana for cardiac problems, hypertension, arthritis, digestion, depression, menopause and more.
- By type – this classification is based on what we are doing in that particular asana. We have backbends, inversions, arm balancing asanas and various twists
- By body part – while most asanas work on complete body, some are more effective for specific body parts. So we have asanas for knees, back, head, hips, even eyes.
Pranayama – Prana in sanskrit means life force and ayama is to control. Pranayama thus is to control our life force i.e. breath. When we sit in a particular asana, to make it more effective it is very important that we breathe in a certain manner. In any program of Yoga for beginners, breathing is the first thing that is taught to us. Proper breathing by itself is rejuvenating and can be practised sitting anywhere, office, home, even in the cafeteria waiting for your favourite brew.
Once you have decided which form of Yoga to practice, searched, identified and enrolled with a practitioner, some more things are to be taken care of before you start.
1. Get yourself some simple, comfortable and stretchable clothes and a good yoga mat.
2. Always remember to do Yoga on an empty stomach.
3. Do a little bit of warm up to loosen your muscles before you begin.
4. Be patient, results will come at a slow but steady pace.
Last but definitely not the least, always maintain a cheerful outlook and a light smile on your face, you will see that a small smile will bring a big difference to your yoga practice. Keep smiling, keep practising.