Practicing yoga regularly has many different mental and physical benefits. Although you might be intimidated by yoga, there’s nothing to be worried about. Yoga can be the perfect solution even for beginners or people who’ve been inactive for a long time. The only thing necessary to start is to attend your first yoga class. But before then, you can read our beginner’s guide to yoga and find out everything a first-time could want to know.
Benefits of Doing Yoga
Yoga is a worldwide phenomenon practiced and loved by millions of people. The Sanskrit word “yuj,” which means to join or unite, is where yoga got its name. According to Ananda.org, the union of your body’s physical and spiritual realms is exactly what the practice of yoga is all about.
However, yoga is open to all. So, if you would much rather focus on one or the other aspect, you can. After all, there have been numerous approaches to yoga in the past. Yoga dates back to some 5,000 years ago, according to Yoga Basic.
Whichever aspect of yoga you choose to focus on, know that it can affect both your body and mind through a whole host of positive benefits. The American Osteopathic Association reports that yoga has numerous advantages which include:
- Raised energy levels
- Decreased stress
- Promotes better circulation
- Strengthens muscles
- Improves flexibility
- Reduces inflammation
- Boosts focus and concentration
- Helps with sleep
- Benefits balance
6 Most Popular Types of Yoga
If you’re new to yoga, the first thing you need to decide is which type is right for you because it comes in many different versions. Take a look at some of the most popular forms below.
Hatha: Hatha is often used as a catch-all term to describe yoga. This form of yoga centers around a link between poses and breathing and it also tends to have a more relaxed pace, which means you have to hold poses for longer. Hatha yoga is both good for beginners and experts who want to stay longer in different poses.
Ashtanga: Ashtanga is another good version for beginners because practitioners work on the same poses each class before moving onto a next set. If you’re a perfectionist at heart looking to master moves, consider taking an ashtanga class.
Vinyasa: If you’re looking for a faster-paced form of yoga, then Vinyasa will be an excellent choice for you. With this version of yoga, practitioners have to fluidly move through many poses and sequences while maintaining good breathing.
Yin Yoga: When attending a Yin Yoga class, you will have to hold various poses for a couple of minutes while focusing on your body and relaxing. This is a more meditative form of yoga due to having to hold poses for a longer period of time.
Bikram Yoga: A Bikram yoga class consists of a series of asanas or poses and two different breathing techniques. However, what really makes this variation stand out is the fact that you practice in a heated room, which enables you to stretch much deeper.
Kundalini: Meditation and intense breathing aimed at activating energy centers or chakras and pushing you into higher consciousness is the ultimate aim of Kundalini yoga.
8 Tips for Your First Yoga Class
Now that you know a little about the most popular forms of yoga it’s time to prepare you for your very first class. Before setting out, here’s what you should know:
Wear comfy clothes that let you stretch – A pair of running shorts or yoga pants are ideal below, and up top, you might want to wear two layers so that you can remove one as you warm up.
Bring your own yoga mat – Although many studios let you rent, people leave a lot of sweat on their yoga mat, so we recommend buying your own.
Get there early – Yoga is about relaxing, so don’t make yourself unnecessarily nervous by being late.
Expect to be a little cramped – It might not always be the case, but you might have to share a relatively small amount of room with fellow classmates.
You can’t do yoga with socks – Make sure you leave them in your shoes so you don’t slip on your mate.
Chanting might be involved – A little “om” might end and start each session, but you don’t have to join in.
Poses might be called out in English or Sanskrit. Some instructors use English pose names and other Sanskrit, but don’t worry, you’ll quickly get used to it.
You will need some adjustments. Most beginners need to adjust as they learn poses, however, don’t let this discourage you because it’s common.
- “The Yogic Encyclopedia,” Ananda,
- “History of Yoga,” Yoga History,
- “The benefits of Yoga,” American Osteopathic Association,
- “Hatha Yoga,” Wikipedia,