We have all heard stories of how beneficial and effective yoga is, for fitness and good health. But for those of us who have never tried it before, it can all feel a bit too intimidating. Where do you start? How do you go about it? There’s just too much information on the internet.
Binda Acharya, yoga instructor at Jeevan Vigyan and the undersecretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, gives us a thorough run down of things you should know before you give it a go. Rest assured, it isn’t as difficult as it seems.
Know what you are getting into
Before getting into yoga just for the sake of it or just because everyone else around you is also doing it and its “trendy”, understand what yoga really is. It’s a Hindu ascetic discipline that has three aspects: yoga, pranayam and dhyan. Yoga in itself is a physical practice that requires the movement of your body and its specific purpose is to keep your body healthy. Pranayam is the second yogic discipline that trains and requires you to control your breath. Dhyan is the meditation aspect of yogic discipline that teaches you focus and concentrate leading to tranquility. It’s only with the practice of all three of these aspects together that you can enrich your body, mind, and soul with yoga.
Better to do it in a group
Although you can practice yoga on your own too, it will be more effective and beneficial if you do so in a group. When you do yoga asanas, your body will generate energy. Doing these in a group will sustain the generated energy and enthusiasm within the area and the practitioners for a longer period of time. Also, if you do these in front of an instructor or a trained practitioner, they will correct you if you make any mistakes and guide you through the steps properly. If that isn’t possible then you can do yoga by yourself too. You can always refer to various YouTube tutorials that show you how the asanas are done in detail. According to Acharya, Patanjali also has a few good books on this that are easily available. You can go through those before starting your yoga journey.
Don’t restrict your body
It’s important to let your body move freely when you are doing yoga. So do everything in your power to allow that. Wear loose and free flowing clothes for your yoga session. It’s also sensible to wear light fabrics that don’t weigh your body down. Normal workout clothes also work for yoga since they allow unrestricted body movement and are light and stretchy. Don’t wear anything that you feel uncomfortable as this takes away your focus from performing yoga to thinking about the clothes you are wearing.
Another thing to remember before starting yoga is to select a wide space where you will not run into things like room furniture while doing it. You don’t need an elaborate setting – just a good space to put out a mat on the floor will do. Also, your session will be more effective if you can do it near or when you surrounded by nature because the closer you are to nature, the happier and more in tune your body gets. If that isn’t possible then at least open the doors and windows and let some fresh air flow into the room before starting.
Timing and eating
There are a lot of reasons why you should do yoga early in the morning than any other time of the day. This sets your sleeping pattern and rhythm and instantly energizes (and wakes) you. Doing yoga first thing in the morning is also linked to improving metabolism and balancing your hormones. It also opens up your joints so that your body functions properly throughout the day. Traditionally, yoga has always been done before sunrise. If that time doesn’t work for you, then you can also do yoga in the evening.
On a similar note, remember, you can’t do yoga when your stomach is full because eating and yoga don’t mesh together well. Full or a heavy stomach actually disrupts your movements during yoga. Sometimes, it can also trigger diverticulosis and other digestive disorders. So, always perform yoga on a light or empty stomach. Having some green tea or black coffee before yoga works but don’t eat anything heavy.
Posture and breathing
Yoga is all about regulating your breathing. Take long and deep breaths while performing yoga. This helps the blood circulate properly to your brain, heart, and muscles. All of this also comes under the pranayam sub-division so you will learn about it if you study yoga in depth. There is an old saying – Deeper the breath, longer the life – and that is the holy grail in yoga where deep and long breaths is of paramount importance. Acharya says that people usually forget about deep breathing while doing yoga and they have to suffer the consequences of that later in life. She further states that proper breathing is a must if you want to experience the maximum benefits of yoga. Also, you should keep your spine stick straight to be able to perform yoga properly and correctly.