Yoga for Beginners – What is Yoga?

yoga-for-beginners-what-is-yogaTypes of Yoga

Yoga is not just an activity that relaxes or energizes; its effects  go  beyond  just  the  physical,  for  it  can  bring inner  contentment,  feelings  of  happiness,  insight  and understanding of life, as well as other benefits.

There  are  many  different  yoga  paths  that  lead  to  this state  of  harmony  with  oneself.  The  highest  goal  of  a yogi is enlightenment (samadhi), in which he can know his   inner   self,   thereby   freeing   himself   from   outside influences. One of these ways is raja yoga, the yoga of meditation.  To  be  able  to  sit  up  straight,  and  concentrate  in  a  meditation  posture  without  moving  requires some   physical   training,   which   is   where   hatha   yoga comes  in.  Hatha  yoga  is  a  combination  of  physical poses  (asanas)  and  breathing  exercises  (pranayama). Only  with  a  healthy  body  and  calm  breathing  can  you manage the difficult task of meditation.

History

Yoga  has  been  practiced  for  several  thousand  years  in India. This  is  why  the  names  of  the  exercises  are  all  in Sanskrit,  the  oldest  Indian  language.  The  word  “yoga” can be translated as “unity” or “harmony.”

One  syllable  in  Sanskrit  is  “om”  [symbol]  (pronounced “Ohmm”). It is also called the spoken essence of the universe.  It  is  often  said  at  the  beginning  and  end  of  the yoga  session  to  bring  the  body  and  mind  into  harmony.

Yoga Master

Swami    Sivananda    (1887-1963)    and    Swami    Vishnu Devananda    (1927-1993),    two    famous    Indian    yoga masters  put  together  a  Hatha  Yoga  teaching  series  in line with ancient traditions, geared toward the needs of Westerners.  Swami  Vishnu  Devananda  was  one  of  the yoga  masters  who  brought  yoga  to  the  West  (USA, Canada, Europe).

Hatha Yoga

“Ha”  means  “sun”  and  “tha”  means  “moon.” Yogis  use these  terms  to  designate  two  important  energies  that each  one  of  us  possesses.  Lunar  energy  is  feminine, emotional,  intuitive,  while  solar  energy  is  masculine, analytical, extroverted.

Elements of Hatha Yoga

The following are the cornerstones of yoga:

  1. Physical exercises (asanas)
  2. Breathing (pranayama)
  3. Relaxation (shavasana, yoga nidra)
  4. Positive thinking and meditation

The asanas have an effect that transcends the physical, and,  particularly  when  poses  are  held  for  a  long  time and when breathing and concentration are coordinated with the poses, they influence the energy centers (chakras) and energy channels (nadis), similar to the meridians  in  traditional  Chinese  medicine  (TCM).  While  the effects of functional gymnastics are often limited to the muscles  and  joints,  yoga  works  much  more  on  the organs  and  therefore  the  metabolism  of  the  body  as  a whole.  The  exercises  help  to  stimulate  and  harmonize physical processes.

Relaxation  and  meditation  exercises  prepare  the  body for  the  yoga  session  or  accelerate  the  regeneration  of energies after the session. They also calm the mind and harmonize  energies,  thus  creating  a  holistic  effect  on the yoga practitioner (yogi).

Yoga Today

Both  at  work  and  at  home,  the  pace  of  modern  life requires  us  to  be  flexible,  adaptable  and  dynamic,  and it  is  constantly  increasing. We  are  also  becoming  more and   more   specialized   and   sophisticated.   We   often neglect our own bodies in the process and only start to take notice of it if we get sick.

To  stay  sane  in  this  crazy  world,  our  desire  to  find  a feeling of inner unity will become stronger and stronger, including  the  need  for  peace  of  mind  and  to  allow  the body to compensate for our sedentary lifestyles.

The  held  poses  in  yoga  give  us  time  to  become  aware of  our  own  bodies.  Yoga  teaches  us  how  to  use  our muscles  effectively.  By  harmonizing  breathing,  muscle contraction  and  relaxing,  the  body  is  allowed  to  follow its own rhythm.

In  the  truest  sense  of  the  word,  yoga  offers  space and time for personal development.

Please note – you should be careful of the following:

  • Discuss your personal yoga program with a physician, physiotherapist or yoga teacher if you are due to have an operation in the near future or suffer from acute or chronic illnesses, from muscular wear and tear, wear a prosthesis, or have a limited range of movement.
  • Avoid  inverted  postures  if  you  suffer  from  raised blood pressure, colds or back injuries.
  • If  you  have  an  acute  slipped  disk,  avoid  twisting movements or back bends.
  • Pain is a warning signal that must be taken seriously.

Yoga  can  sometimes  be  difficult  or  require  great flexibility, but it should never cause you pain.

  • Talk  with  a  yoga  teacher  or  read  the  appropriate specialist literature if you are pregnant.

Tips:

◆        Never exercise immediately after eating.

◆        Wear comfortable clothing.

◆        Depending  on  the  exercise  you  are  doing,  use  a soft, warm or non-slip mat.

◆        Take your time. Avoid interruptions.

◆        Concentrate  and  be  mindful  as  you  exercise.  Be aware  of  your  body.  Be  aware  of  your  breathing  at all times. Practice with your eyes closed as often as possible, as this encourages inner awareness.

◆        Use  aids  (chair,  cushion,  etc.)  if  you  are  not  yet capable of doing the basic exercises.

Yoga can help you …

Physically:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase lung capacity
  • Strengthen nerves
  • Increase flexibility
  • Eliminate tensions
  • Relieve pain
  • Improve immune defense
  • Improve digestion
  • Delay the signs of aging due to improved metabolism

Mentally:

  • Improve concentration
  • Develop greater awareness
  • Become more responsible
  • Develop greater flexibility

Spiritually:

  • Patience
  • Contentment
  • Serenity
  • Equilibrium
  • Inner calm
  • Self-confidence

Leave a Reply