Updated: Aug 9
What comes to mind when you think of yoga? Lululemon pants? Pretzel-like poses? Let me tell you right now that it is more than doing downward dog in a candlelit room while tribal flute music plays in the background. It's a practice to some and a lifestyle to others.
If you've done any research about yoga, you’ve probably stumbled on a lot about chakras, maybe a few Sanskrit words, and a whole lot of poses that look near-impossible for anyone who isn't a gymnast or contortionist. But, there really is no reason to be overwhelmed or confused by Yoga. Depending on your particular style of yoga, it's relatively easy and the benefits pay off!
With my Introduction to Yoga For Complete Beginners, you'll learn all the things you need to know about yoga. In this post, I’m going to teach you all the basics so that you can start practicing and getting all the benefits that yoga offers. No matter your reason to start yoga, you can this is a GREAT place to start!
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a beautiful combination of mindful meditation and physical movement. It’s more than just stretches and chanting in Sanskrit, it’s a synchronization practice for the body and mind that focuses on breath, balance. Even if you’re not spiritual, you can still benefit from yoga!
Benefits of Practicing Yoga:
The number one benefit to practicing Yoga is relaxation. As a type of mindful meditation, you're focusing on your breath while you work the tension out of your muscles. You can find a Yoga pose for almost anything from digestive issues to inducing sleep. Generally speaking, yoga is actually the gentlest form of exercise.
Here are the other benefits of Practicing Yoga/
Improves flexibility and balance
Reduces Stress & Anxiety
Heals common aches
Strengthens the Immune System
Help Improve Mental Illness
Improves Your Sex Life
Improves Clarity and Focus
Who is Yoga For?
From children to seniors, anyone can benefit from yoga! Even if you can't yet bend down and touch your toes (believe me, I couldn't when I started either!), there's still a yoga practice for you. There are always modifications to suit your situation.
The exceptions would be if you have some sort of injury or are heavily pregnant. Even in those cases, I’m positive that there could be a variation of a pose made for those purposes. However, you should always consult a doctor and a yoga professional to see if it’s right for you.
Yoga Then and Now:
Yoga was created as a catalyst for meditation by the Brahman Peoples of Northern India. Over thousands of years, it has reformed into many different styles and paths including Hatha Yoga, which is the most commonly practiced yoga style in North America. All yoga practices usually work toward the goal of aligning the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga
Like the Ten Commandments, Yoga has some standards for those who practice it. The Eight Limbs are predominantly taught in Ashtanga Yoga but can be used in any yoga style, as they are meant to be a general life practice.
8. Samadhi - Enlightenment
The awakening of freedom in the mind.
7. Dhyana - Meditation
Meditating on a mantra or your breath.
6. Dharana - Concentration
Focusing all your attention on what you’re meditating on, depending on the style of yoga.
5. Pratyahara - Sense Withdrawal
Bringing your attention solely to your breathing, to withdraw yourself from your senses.
4. Pranayama - Breath Control
The slowing of your breathing and focus on the cycles of breath.
3. Asana - Physical Postures
These are the poses in the yoga practice
2. Niyamas - Moral Practices
Your self-disciplinary practices like daily meditation or Sunday Service.
1. Yamas - Moral Restrictions
These are our moral or ethical standards.
Beginner-Friendly Yoga Styles:
Hatha: This is a pretty general style of yoga that combines multiple styles of yoga. This is usually a slow and gentle practice that is the number one choice for beginners. I totally recommend starting with Hatha Yoga, if you've never practiced before.
Vinyasa: Also known as Flow Yoga. Much like Hatha Yoga, this style incorporates various styles of yoga but synching your movement with your breath. This is another recommendation of mine for beginners.
Viniyoga: An adaptable style of yoga that is customized specifically to the needs of the one who practices it. Yes, that means it is tailored to your speed, flexibility, experience level, and the goal of why you're doing the yoga practice in the first place.
Yin Yoga: A slow and steady style of yoga, where poses are held for a longer period of time (5 minutes or more). While this style of yoga may seem like a good starter style, it's not. Don't be fooled by the slow pace; this is a style for more experienced yogis.
Integrative Yoga Therapy: This yoga style uses synchronization of the 8 Limbs for the purpose of therapy. The limbs are done in a sequence, just as they are written. This could be a good starter style if it's customized to that purpose.
Restorative Yoga: A relaxing yoga style that involves stretching the stress out of the muscles by holding poses for an extended period of time (up to 10 minutes). Restorative yoga is a popular choice for seniors, new moms, and people recovering from injury. It's the gentlest form of exercise.
Yoga Gear: What You Need To Get Started:
When you’re a complete beginner, there’s no need to feel pressured to splurge on a fancy yoga mat and Lulu Pants. A blanket or towel and some loose-fitting clothes will be great to start off with. If you have a yoga/workout mat, that's even better.
You may also need a few blankets or pillows to help you modify your poses as necessary. As your practice and love for yoga grow, so will your list of gear. For specific yoga styles, the use of bolsters and ropes may be needed, as modifications to your practice.
How To Get Started:
There are TONS of guided yoga practices for you to get started right at home! That’s right! You can get your favorite yoga practices right from your phone or tablet!
Here are some great yoga videos to get you started!
Morning Yoga for Beginners:
Sun Salutation For Beginners:
Gentle Yoga Flow For ALL Levels:
Now, you’re ready! What style of yoga will you practice first? Do You have a favorite pose?
Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to see your yoga practices! You can tag the blog by using the hashtag #HerRuralMajesty.
Stay tuned for Yoga Sequences & Infographics! You’ll be able to see them @ruralmajestyblog on Facebook and Instagram or right here on the blog!
Until Then, Namaste xoxo