While we look at the different pictures of Yoga masters, their gravity-defying poses, and their extreme physical flexibility, we develop a notion that yoga is not for everyone. But in fact, yoga is for everyone who cares to give it a try. We do not practice yoga because you are flexible and strong. Rather we practice yoga in order to attain that flexibility and strength through the regular practice of yoga.
Brief History of Yoga
Yoga has its roots in ancient Indian traditions. This ancient root is found in the Vedic texts that were written about 5000 years ago. The word ‘yoga’ is meant to express various mental and physical disciplines, that are meant to attain wholesome wellbeing of the body and the mind. The sages of ancient India came upon a realization that our body and our mind are inextricably linked. Once there is some ailment in the mind, it is sure to affect the body. While on the other hand, a healthy body can sustain a healthy mind.
There are many different schools of Yoga that developed over time. Some yoga practices are only for training the mind and do not entail any particular poses. While there are other practices that stress basic postures called ‘asanas’ which help to develop a flexible body. If practiced with patience and diligence, you would develop strength of body and mind never experienced before.
This article would elaborate upon some basic yoga postures which are meant for beginners. Before we describe the postures and their benefits, it may be added that yoga should initially be practiced under the guidance of an adept, or an expert who had reached an advanced level of competence in yoga.
Some of the basic yoga poses for beginners are as follows:
Tadasana ( Mountain Pose)
- Stand in a position such that your big toes are touching each other. The heels should be situated slightly apart.
- Then firm your thigh muscles, while lifting the knee cap. While firming the thigh muscles, take care that you do it without hardening your belly muscles.
- While standing in such a position, imagine that a stream of energy is rising up from the inner thighs to your groin; and from the groin to the torso, neck, and head.
- Balance your posture in such a way that the crown of your head is balanced directly over the center of your pelvis.
- Stay in this posture for 30 seconds to one minute and breathe easily.
Savasana (Corpse pose)
- Sit in a relaxed position folding your knees, and then lean back onto your forearms.
- Then you should inhale slowly and stretch the left leg, and after that the right leg.
- You should release the tension in the groins.
- Lie down slowly and softly with your back lightly touching the yoga mat.
- With your hand, you lift the base of your skull and gently exhale. The beginners might find some difficulty in raising their head and remaining in that position for some time. For them, it is advised that they should use a folded blanket for support.
- Raise your arms in such a way, that it is perpendicular to the floor and pointed to the ceiling. Then release the arms and slowly bring them near the floor, resting them softly over the floor.
- Take care that your arms are evenly placed relative to your torso.
- Close your eyes, soften your tongue and relax your face muscles.
- Remain in this position for 5 minutes, after every thirty minutes of the training session.
- While you exit from this pose, turn to your side slowly, breathe easily, press your palms on the floor and uplift your torso.
- Slowly lift your head after that.
Utthika Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
- Stand in a posture of Tadasana
- With slow exhalation, stay apart your feet for about three to four feet.
- Raise your arm slowly until they are aligned parallel to the floor.
- Now move slowly down to rest your right arm near the floor of the left leg.
- Stay in this position for one to three minutes.
- Slowly raise your body again so that it comes back to the initial position.
- Repeat the same movement with the other side of your body.
- This posture would release the tension of your spinal muscles and helps reduce extra fat from your hip and your belly.
Marjaryasana (Cat pose)
- Firstly you should align your body in a tabletop position
- Make sure that your knees are in the same like as your resting wrists, elbows, and heels.
- The hands should be perpendicular to the floor.
- As you exhale, round your spine in such a way that you gaze towards the ceiling.
- Now you inhale and release your head towards the floor, but don’t press your chin hard onto your chest.
- This pose is often done along with the cow pose to get the best result.
All the above-mentioned postures can be practiced by beginners. They do not require an advanced level of flexibility and strength. You can start with these poses, and after practicing the triangle pose, which is meant to lend flexibility, to the entire upper part of the body, you can venture into other advanced-level yoga postures.
Now, a few words on the importance of breathing rhythms while practicing yoga. Focusing on your breath is an integral part of any yoga practice. The yoga gurus place the pranayama or breathing practices over the physical postures. So while you are into a yoga session, don’t forget to include some breathing exercises of pranayama. These breathing control exercises would relax your body muscles and helps you to de-stress. The chaos of the mind settles down slowly, and as you practice, you would find a center of calm and peace within your inner self.
Yoga is not exactly an esoteric practice. It can be learned and adapted at any age. It does not have any harmful side effects. The slow movement of the yoga postures along with the breathing rhythm is meant to provide wholesome well-being to the body and the mind. Yoga is the road to inner happiness that is sustainable and does not depend on any object to make you inwardly peaceful and happy.