Yoga: The Basics
Yoga provides countless positive physical and mental benefits. It can be used as a relaxation technique or a great workout routine. From relieving back pain to preventing joint problems, yoga is becoming more popular than ever with people of all ages. There are many fascinating aspects to the practice and concepts of yoga, but it definitely helps to be familiar with the basics.
Yoga and Balance
One of the best parts of yoga is the balance that can be achieved while performing the poses. The balance takes place between flexibility and strength on several levels. When tension occurs throughout your body, stress is placed on your muscles, spine, and joints. Over time, the stress accumulates and eventually can cause pain, discomfort, or health problems. Yoga restores the natural balance between your muscles and joints as it removes the tension, building up your resistance to future injuries.
Since yoga is a workout for your mind as well as your body, it is important to be in a relaxed state. Breathing properly helps you to focus and stay relaxed. This is especially effective in lessening any stress or anxiety you might have. Take deep breaths from your diaphragm as you inhale and exhale. Avoid the shorter breaths that don't go deeper than your chest area. These do not generate enough oxygen through your body and can leave you feeling anxious.
The main attention for yoga is centered on the various poses that it offers. It is recommended for beginners to start with the hatha form of yoga, which is much less complicated and vigorous than other forms of posing. In hatha, alignment is emphasized as you develop your awareness of the effect each body part can have on each other. For example, maintaining a balanced alignment of your head, spine, hips, knees, shoulders, and feet will ensure that you get the maximum results from every pose.
A popular yoga pose is the seated half-lotus position. It can easily be performed by sitting with your legs crossed over each other and your hands holding your knees comfortably. Keep your ankle resting on the opposite leg and your back straight. Breathe deeply in and out. Hold the pose and switch legs.
Another basic pose of yoga is the pelvic tilt pose, which is performed by lying on your back and bringing your knees up until your feet are resting flat on the floor. Your hands remain at your sides as you gently rock your hips towards your head, feeling your lower back press against the floor. After holding the pose for a few seconds, repeat the motion for approximately 5 to 10 times.
A variation of the pelvic tilt is the supported bridge pose. It uses a yoga block placed at the base of your spine to support your lower back as your hips are raised off of the mat. When just beginning, use the lowest level of block and work your way up to the next levels slowly.
Hundreds of poses and options are available to yoga enthusiasts of all levels, so select a class or instructor that is right for you. Take the time to consult with your physician before beginning any type of yoga or exercise program. They can advise you of any conditions you have and help you to choose the best workouts. If you suffer from chronic back pain or other conditions, be extra careful when performing yoga, and use caution as needed.