Yoga For Beginners

Understanding Yoga For Beginners

While many people think that Yoga is a religion, this is not the case at all. Yoga originated more than 5,000 years ago and helped practitioners gain stability and relaxation to prepare themselves for the rigors of meditation.

Yoga, in itself, means to join or unite. It’s a form of exercise that’s based around the beliefs that your body and mind are intimately connected, and that by controlling your breathing you can gain balance between your mind, body, and soul.

If you're just beginning your journey into the discipline, then this guide will ​help you in understanding yoga and the context of the practice.

This is done through various poses, or asanas, and can help you establish harmony, and a balanced approach to your life. At it’s core, Yoga helps you take over the “driver’s seat” in your life, by controlling your body, your breath, and your mind.

While Yoga practice in itself is very simple and straight-forward, achieving a fine balance between all 3 aspects of your life can be difficult and take years to achieve the true centered feeling that yogis strive for.

Yoga For Beginers

Yoga is not actually a religion, in the sense that it doesn’t have a philosophy of it’s own. Because of it’s foundation in Eastern religion, it’s often associated with religion. The closest form of religion to Yoga is actually Hinduism, with one of the six major schools of Orthodox in Hinduism actually being called “Yoga”.

Yoga has 5 different “yamas”, or principles & ethical rules, along with 5 “niyamas”. The “yamas” are: chastity, non-greed, truthfulness, non-violence, and non-stealing. The 5 “niyamas” are centering on the Divine, self-discipline, self-study, purity, and contentment.

These are all virtues that you attempt to achieve when you begin practicing yoga, in it’s traditional sense.

Five Yamas

Five Yamas

  • Non-Violence: By practicing Yoga, you are taking it upon yourself to not participate in harming or demeaning any living creature. This includes yourself, and means that you should not harm anything by your actions, your words, or the thoughts you may have.
  • Non-Lying: Yoga also insists that you must not say anything that may be untruthful. This applies to the words you say to other people, as well as the words that you say to yourself.
  • Non-Stealing: Yoga dictates that you must not take something that doesn’t belong to you. It not only pertains to physical objects, but also to false praise, or positioning that may be taken without having earned it.
  • Non-Sensuality: The 4th Yama, non-sensuality, refers to learning how to control yourself, and the excessive energy spent while seeking sensual pleasure. It also pertains to the seeking of inappropriate sexual behaviors.
  • Non-Greed: The 5th, and final Yama refers to detaching yourself from the desire of objects, and to learn how to distinguish between your wants, and your true needs.

Five Niyamas

Along with the 5 Yamas, there are also 5 Niyamas that help finish the path of ethical discipline.

Five Niyamas

  • Purity: When you’re practicing purity, it means that you must cleanse your body, mind, soul, and environment of unclean objects, wants, desires, and thoughts.
  • Contentment: By becoming centered, you are devoting yourself to accepting things as the way they are right now, while also vowing to continue seeking ways to improve yourself in the future.
  • Self-Control: Having self control means to take responsibility for your actions, and to have the determination to do what you choose to do. Replacing negative habits with more positive influences is key in gaining self control.
  • Self-Study: Looking in upon yourself, learning why you do what you do, the words you choose to speak, and the thoughts that you have in your mind is key to practicing self-study. Behaving in a positive way is crucial to achieving the satisfaction that all human beings strive for in life.
  • Devotion: Devoting yourself to the Divine means to show the natural love in your heart to the world around you, rather than physical objects.

8 Styles Of Yoga

Along with Yamas and Niyamas, there are also different branches of yoga. Some forms of practice have actually combined multiple paths, to form a new yogic traditions. For the most part, each path of Yoga is based on the teacher’s particular style, or approach to how they practice asanas.

Ananda Yoga

Ananda Yoga, at it’s foundation, is a blending of spiritual and physical self, and focuses on a series of asanas called “energenization exercises” that revolve around tensing and relaxing various parts of the body.

Ananda Yoga Pose

These exercises, coupled with focused breathing helps to prepare practitioners for extended meditation.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga is a more rigorous type of yoga and can be related more to the type of training that professional athletes receive.

Ashtanga Yoga Pose

It’s the most intense form of yoga and combines six different asanas that are linked to your breathing to emphasize your balance of strength, flexibility, and stamina. It’s often called “Power Yoga”.

Integral Yoga

Integral Yoga combines every aspect of practice, asanas, pranayamas, or breaths, selflessness, chanting, prayers, meditation, and self-study.

Integral Yoga Meditation

It’s more on the meditative side of practice than physical, and focuses on being at ease with your body, at peace in your mind, and useful in your life. Integral Yoga is a lot more gentle and meditative than other forms of practice.

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga became popularized in Western societies, and follows the teachings of master BKS Iyengar.

Iyengar Yoga Pose

It revolves around alignment of your spine, arms, and legs, and practice tends to be very slow and deliberate in nature. Most classes are focused on very few asanas, with support being provided through various props to help you achieve perfect posture.

Kripalu Yoga

Kripalu Yoga focuses on meditation while you’re moving between asanas. It’s emphasis is based on your mental and emotional awareness, and asanas are held for long periods of time so you’re given a chance to explore your inner self.

Kripalu Yoga Class

Practice ranges from gentle in the first stage, to moderate in the second stage, and strenuous in the final stage where you’re surrendering to your body.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga focuses on your reservoir of built-up energy inside of your body, at the base of your spine.

Kundalini Yoga Pose

By placing emphasis on your breathing techniques as you move through asanas, along with chanting and meditation, your energy is directed from the base of your spine through your energy centers, or chakras.

Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda Yoga is one of the few that includes aspects of your dieting into your overall practice.

Sivananda Yoga Pose

You begin each class with mantras and chanting that help you center, before beginning a series of breathing exercises, sun salutations, and twelve classic asanas.

Viniyoga

In between the strenuous Ashtanga Yoga, and the more precise, exact Iyengar yoga lies the Viniyoga path.

Viniyoga Pose

It combines asanas, breathing, meditation, prayer, chanting and rituals along with studying of texts, images, and active counseling. Most Viniyoga classes are conducted in one-on-one sessions to help you get the most out of the practice.

Conclusion

Understanding the 5 Yamas, 5 Niyamas, and different paths of Yoga will help you learn why you’re practicing, along with the right type of practice you need to be doing to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself.

Girl Practicing Yoga at Sunrise

One style of yoga may be better suited to people who are active in sports, while other styles of yoga are going to be more catered towards people looking to slow down in life, get centered, and find their true self.

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