Guest Author - Tracy Webb
Embarking on a yoga practice can be one of the best things anyone can do for themselves. Yoga is the union of mind, body and spirit brings many benefits. When the mind and body are working in harmony, everything else seems to fall into place.
The breath is an important part of yoga and an aid in balancing the mind and body. When our breathing is correct we can achieve clarity of mind, feel calmer and find inner peace. Practicing any of the asanas should be done with a calm and focused mind. It is important not to rush through the postures. Two or three asanas practiced correctly are more beneficial than a whole routine practiced without focus.
If you feel tense during any of the asanas, breathe deep into the posture instead of holding your breath which creates tensions in your mind and body. When we tense our bodies and hold our breath we block the flow of the posture and donít reap the benefits. Breathing into the posture releases the tensions, relaxes the body and reduces the risk of injury.
Try to include time for meditation and pranayama in your new practice. The benefits received from quietening the mind and balancing the breath are immense. I know from experience that when my breathing is out of balance I feel tense and anxious inside. This is an ideal indicator of stress levels. During the day If you feel any anxiety, stop and take 3 to 4 deep conscious breaths or as many you need to feel yourself relax. Notice the difference it makes as your mind and awareness are brought back into the present moment.
Another important factor to consider is your ability. Be kind to yourself and be aware of your limitations and any injury considerations. Donít try to force any of the postures. Take them slowly and breathe into each one. This way the practice becomes strong and develops longevity. Let the body move at its own pace and ability. The more time set aside to practice, the sooner increased movement and flexibility should become apparent.
When doing stretching postures, try to lift out from the hips to create space between the hip bones and rib cage. This lengthens the spine and helps you maintain a strong healthy posture. Doing this throughout the day, when sitting and walking, can prevent slouching and problems with the back.
Comfortable clothing that does not restrict you in any way is a must. It is important to be able to move freely during your practice. Anything too tight can dig in, inhibit circulation and movement. Anything too loose may move during stretches and become a hindrance.
Eating before practicing any asana is not recommended. It is best to work on an empty stomach, therefore wait at least 3 hours after a meal before starting any exercises. The best time to practice yoga is in the morning. The stretches help to energise the body and focus the mind for the day ahead.
Starting a yoga practice is an excellent way to give yourself some 'me' time. An opportunity to tune into yourself, your body and take stock of how you are feeling. When practiced slowly with the breath yoga can bring a deep sense of peace.
As with anything, it takes time for your practice to become natural and habitual. Having a regular time to practice is a good idea. Joining a class is also recommended as this enables you to get a feel for how to do the postures correctly with the support of a qualified teacher. If you have injuries. health conditions or are taking medication, it is always advisable to check with your doctor before embarking on any exercise routine.
The good thing about yoga is there is no expensive outlay. All that is required is a mat and some comfortable clothes. Generally, practice can start immediately from your own home. If the postures seem too much to start, take it slowly. The addition of pranayama or meditation to your day is enough to start with and can bring remarkable benefits.
Hope you enjoy setting up your yoga practice and that the above tips are useful to get you started.
Teach Yourself Yoga is a great place to start your journey. There is lots of good advice, diagrams, and descriptions of many postures.