A practical guide to the art of practicing yoga

A practical guide to the art of practicing yoga

There’s no question the benefits of yoga are many. With roots going back some 5,000 years, countless people around the world practice this healing art for the spiritual, physical and mental rewards that include everything from pain relief to reducing anxiety.

Here’s what you should know about this ancient exercise, so you can make the most of its innumerable benefits.

Types of yoga

Everyone has different needs, which are reflected in the many types of yoga available.

  • Whether you’re looking to sweat out stress and flush toxins from your system with hot yoga; strengthen your body and burn calories with power yoga; or simply looking to improve your overall level of fitness and restore mind-body balance with gentle exercise, there’s something for everyone – from yoga for kids to pregnant women.

Figuring out your needs

If you’re unsure what’s best for you, think about what you want out of it.

  • Are you trying to target specific areas, like the shoulders?
  • Are you training for another sport, such as running or figure skating, to reduce the risk of injury?
  • Aiming to stay fit and healthy while you’re pregnant?
  • Or are you practicing yoga to keep your stress under control?

Whatever the reason, it’s important to consult your doctor first. Some people with certain health conditions may not be advised to practice yoga.

Mental and physical benefits

Yogis will attest that this ancient exercise can do wonders for the mind, body and spirit. If you suffer from stress or depression, a regular yoga routine can help with such things as:

  • Teaching you greater self-awareness.
  • Boosting your confidence.
  • Reconnecting you with your surroundings.

Among the many yoga positions everyone should know that can help you achieve this are the:

  • Downward facing dog – to give you some upside-down perspective.
  • Tree pose – to improve your balance.
  • Warrior pose – to gain strength.

At its core, yoga allows you to focus on how to breathe properly, a useful tool during particularly stressful or life-changing events, like pregnancy.

Yoga for every age and stage of life

Although most types of yoga are suitable for every level of experience and fitness, there are some more difficult poses that aren’t for everyone.

  • If you’re a beginner, start with the basics and remember to tell your teacher. You could always find a class geared for beginners so you don’t wind up accidentally hurting yourself the first day out.

The beauty of yoga is regardless of your physical ability, you’ll quickly reap the benefits. Before too long, who knows? You may find yourself wanting to become a yoga instructor!

Yoga accessories and clothing

It’s easy to get hooked on yoga. After you’ve established which yoga works best for you, whether as a student or a teacher, you’ll probably need to get some essentials such as a:

  • Yoga mat – to provide comfy support between you and the ground.
  • Yoga mat towel – to prevent your mat from getting slippery.
  • Yoga bag.
  • Selection of stretchy, breathable yoga clothing.

Other techniques to give your yoga practice an edge

Although peace of mind is a big reason people take up yoga, there are other ways to further benefit from the slowing down of the mind.

  • Meditation and mindfulness are useful skills that teach you how to manage your anxieties – both key to a worry-free lifestyle. And if that isn’t enough, you can always try laughter yoga for an extra boost.

Remember that practice makes perfect, and there’s always a good reason to be a perfectionist when it comes to yoga. Your mind, body and soul will thank you. Namaste!

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