For those who want to pursue a mind-body connection, yoga techniques offer a dynamic conditioning program that will help you achieve a mental and physical balance in your life. Yoga is not only about building strength and doing gentle stretching; it will allow you to explore positive thinking, meditation, concentration, emotion, and spiritualism.
Begin With the Sun Salute
There are hundreds of yoga techniques but beginners will start with a series of twelve poses called the Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar). It is performed in a single, graceful flow.
Basic yoga poses work from the inside out to improve and condition the health of the mind and body. You move in an ever progressing sequence of poses, known as Asanas. As you move slowly in and out from one asana to another, your body produces a high body heat that purifies muscles and organs. Asanas are taught in a sequential order and each should be mastered before proceeding to the next. This gradual training develops the strength and balance required for more advanced levels.
Along with poses and learning proper alignment of the body, which is very important in yoga techniques, beginners will also learn the art of breath control (Pranayama).
This dynamic flow of moving meditation is linked together with a breathing and movement technique called Vinyasa. Vi means “to go” and nyasa means “placing” so the term is describing a method of entering and exiting one asana to another. Each movement is accompanied by one breath.
Beginners and novices will learn the Sun Salute sequence including poses such as Downward Facing Dog and Plank. Many yoga techniques look similar to exercises used in bodyweight resistance training, although they are known by different names. They are some of the best tools you will ever learn for building strength in your muscles and bones.
Each pose can be modified so that yoga can be practiced by anyone at any age level and at any fitness level. To increase the level of difficulty, hold each asana longer, and later on, increase the speed and repetition of each series of poses (vinyasa).
A yoga instructor can help you with proper alignment of the body, breathing, and explain how to draw on lines of energy, the directional path of force moving through your body during a pose.
The Benefits of Yoga
Classical Ashtanga Yoga is a vigorous type of Vinyasa-style yoga in that the poses flow from one to the next, in the same order, without pause, incorporating rhythmic breathing. The meditation technique of focusing on the intense physical aspect of each movement helps to bring calmness to your mind and shut out distractions. The most important product of Vinyasa series is producing cleansing sweat. Performing the Asanas creates heat and pushes toxins out the body through sweat.
The regular practice of yoga techniques has multiple wellness benefits for the body, and many people begin yoga with the goal of losing weight. Since yoga uniquely involves the training of the mind as well as the body, you will begin to overcome bad habits and learn control that applies to many aspects of your life. Your appetite, cravings, and other longings will diminish, and you will shed unwanted pounds through the purifying heat of the sweat and cleansing that yoga provides.
Tune In to Your Inner Self
Ideally, you should learn yoga techniques at a local class taught by an instructor who has at least 200 hours of certified training. You should never have any discomfort after the class, but feel centered, calm, and rejuvenated. If classes are not available in your area, there are excellent books and DVDs on how to get started in yoga on your own. With just a session or two, you will begin to learn how to tune in to your inner self and establish a close mind-body connection through the practice of yoga.
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