Exercise & Fitness

What is Yoga?

What is Yoga
Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

Yoga, which means discipline, was developed in the year 300 by an Indian Hindu named Patanjali. Its purpose is to stretch the muscles, strengthen the body and increase concentration. It can also help you relax, if you have trouble doing that. Yoga  exercises can help you a lot in increasing your concentration level and making you feel relaxed.

No wonder this ancient discipline has become popular among modern entertainers and athletes. Depending on who practices it, yoga can be simply a set of exercises or a total way of life.

Some who practice yoga, called yogis, try to use the discipline to reach a high level of consciousness. They respect certain abstentions (things not to do), such as not lying, stealing, being greedy or harming other people. They also practice certain observances (things to do), such as being clean, content, self-controlled, studious and devoted.

Physical control is also important in yoga.

Yogis train themselves to take full, deep breaths. They consider breathing a life force, counting a lifespan not in years but in the number of breaths taken.

Unlike exercises that work only on strength, yoga also helps the body become flexible. As a result, some yoga exercises (called asanas) look a little strange, and you may think you need to be a human pretzel to do them. Not so. You just have to relax.

In yoga, you ease into stretches, never forcing yourself. The saying no pain–no gain simply does not apply. You do only the best you can at the moment, and at some later moment you will do more.

All yoga poses demand balance. And since you can’t balance if you’re thinking about last night’s TV show, yoga also demands concentration. Learn to concentrate in yoga, and you will be better able to concentrate in baseball, tennis or even school.

Yoga exercises copy nature

Many yoga poses can be traced to the shapes of creatures, such as the cobra, cat, dog, tortoise, crab and eagle.

In the cobra pose, for example, you ask yourself, What would it feel like to be a cobra. You lie on your stomach with your forehead to the floor. As you inhale, you slowly roll your head back, supporting yourself with your hands. You hold that pose, then come down slowly, trying to move as a snake would move.

3 Common Yoga Mistakes

Whenever we start something new we have a certain feeling of trepidation and uncertainty of the unknown and in most cases it is completely unfounded and we get on with things very quickly and easily.

Sometimes it isn’t and a simple little thing can cause us to have an entirely negative first impression and perhaps even never want to try that activity or pass time again.

Yoga has so many health benefits, on both a physical and spiritual level, that it would be a tragedy for anyone to miss out on them because they made a silly avoidable mistake on their first day.

With that in mind this article addresses the 3 most common yoga mistakes of most new Yogis, and how to make sure they don’t happen to you.

Yoga Mistakes One: Not knowing what you want from Yoga.

The reality is that there are numerous different styles and forms of Yoga and each has it’s different attractions. Ask yourself what it was about Yoga in general that attracted you and then you can investigate a style that caters more specifically to that. You may like to set goals, be they physical, mental or spiritual. If you do then it’s a good idea to discuss them with the instructor of your class before you begin. Yoga instructors are usually very approachable and happy to talk about their passion. They will be able to talk to you about your goals for the class and let you know if you are being realistic, aiming too high or too low. Make sure you goal includes a timeframe so it becomes something that is measurable.

Yoga Mistakes Two: Jumping in feet first.

Having decided that they will give this Yoga thing a try many people take a running leap and jump in to a 12 month stage by stage class. These classes are usually an upfront payment arrangement and progress from one level to the next as the weeks progress. They are a fantastic way of learning Yoga and becoming very good at it, but it’s quite possibly you will choose a class that is not ideal for you.

The best way around this is to join a Yoga beginner class, also known as a drop in class. If you do these classes for a few weeks you will notice a high turnover of students as new people join and old people move on. These classes are designed to give you a very broad feel for the different types of Yoga. The level of the students in the class usually varies greatly so you can expect the instructor to keep the classes quite tame. The other key benefit of doing this is that the classes are pay as you go so there is no big financial outlay for you while you decide the type and style of yoga that best suits you. You are also not obliged to attend every class. With the longer courses you can fall behind quickly if you miss a week or two in a row. With the pay as you go classes you will find that while each class is different the level stays quite low to cater for the newer people joining in.

Yoga Mistake Three: Choosing the wrong teacher.

Traditionally a Yogi had to be an apprentice to a skilled Guru for many years before he could teach even the simplest of Yoga technique. Nowadays a 3-day course over a long weekend is considered enough by some people. There is a big difference in what you will achieve depending on the skills and abilities of the person teaching you. Yoga is starting to make a regular appearance on the sports injury list and a large reason for this is instructors who have been taught just enough to be dangerous. A qualified teacher won’t necessarily be fantastic and an unqualified teacher won’t necessarily be terrible – but the odds are certainly cast in that direction, so it’s a good idea to check your instructors background and qualifications before you begin studying with them.

In Short.

All yoga exercises promote strength and calmness. Each move’s effects on a muscle, a gland or a nerve center are carefully thought out.

You can choose certain exercises to rid yourself of particular pains, such as back pain from back-packing or leg pain from jogging. Yoga can help condition you for skiing or help you control feelings of depression or fear.

Any good book on yoga will describe various asanas and tell how each works. You may even have done yoga exercises already. Ever done a handstand, or the wheel. Many exercise programs borrow from yoga.

Giving yoga exercises a try is a great goal but we recommend taking it slow at first until your strength and balance improve. Listen to your body while you are doing yoga and don’t worry about modifying positions until you get the hang of it.

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