Yoga is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years, but many are still afraid to get to know it. This is understandable, because after the strange names of the poses ("Downward Dog", "Warrior", "Mountain") and Insta-photo, where yogis roll up into a pretzel, it is easy to panic. We asked Pandora Paloma, a yoga teacher from London, and Jessica Sky, founder of Fat BuddhYog yoga studio, to share their expertise. So, a beginner's guide where you will find everything you wanted to know about yoga, but hesitated to ask.
You can study all types of yoga on the Internet, but the best way to "catch the wave" is to go to group or individual classes. Before signing up for a class, you need to decide which yoga style is right for you. Think about what you expect from the class: do you want a boost of energy or relaxation? Looking to lose weight or gain flexibility? Assess how active and mobile you are, as this will greatly affect your choice of style. There are about 14 types of yoga, but as a beginner you only need to know about a few.
This practice consists of a sequence of postures that must be practiced at a fast pace and in the same order. If you are a fan of monotony and love to work hard, then this format is for you, as it is characterized by a continuous stream of movements.
Many people know "hot" yoga. A Bikram Yoga class usually lasts 90 minutes and consists of a standard sequence of 26 postures. The lesson takes place in a heated room, so you have to sweat here (in every sense). Heat improves muscle elasticity. But you need to be careful not to overdo it. If you are prone to injury, listen to your body and stop when it requires a break. Before and after exercising, it is very important to make sure you have enough water in your body. And if before the class you noticed that this is not so, then it is better to bypass Bikram yoga.
Hatha is a kind of general term. But usually this name of yoga is used to describe a calm class focused on relaxation of the mind and body rather than something more active.
If you are impatient, this type of yoga is not for you. Here you need to work on a small number of poses, focusing on the correct body position in each of them. This type often includes all kinds of inventory ─ from blocks to belts, bolsters and chairs ─ and requires a wall support.
Do you want to improve the interaction between mind, soul and body? Jivamukti Yoga may suit you. This is a very holistic approach. Classes usually begin with the teacher reading or repeating the scriptures. If you are a skeptic, then this is probably not for you. But if you're open to new things, why not give it a try?
This type of yoga is often called dynamic or flow yoga. Vinyasa is a very fast and fluid style of practice that has a lot from Ashtanga. If you are looking for something that will energize but not overwhelm, Vinyasa Yoga is for you.
What type of yoga is right for you?
Pandora Paloma, yoga teacher, wellness trainer and founder of Rooted London, says: “The best way to determine which yoga style is right for you is to just step on the mat. I always advise clients to try a style three times. As a rule, even the same style can be taught in different ways. As you interact with the teacher, your practice will become deeper and more interesting. I understand that a person who is going to a yoga class for the first time can be scared. But trying to choose a style through online video is a traumatic undertaking. Better to sign up for a couple of individual lessons to understand what type of yoga you like, and then it will not be so scary to go to the studio."
What to wear?
According to Pandora, “anything that fits tightly enough on you and does not restrict movement will do. Leggings and sweat tops are proven favorites. Wide T-shirts, for example, fall on your face too often, which is uncomfortable. So the less we come into contact with our clothes, the better, because then nothing prevents us from completely immersing ourselves in yoga. Although you shouldn't bother too much about this, it's not London Fashion Week after all."
What is a Downward Dog?
Jessica Skye, founder of Fat BuddhYog and yoga trainer at Nike, says “Downward Dog is a resting position (although you won't feel that way for the first few months). This is an isometric pose used in Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga classes to separate the flow of physical activity; the idea is to use the downward dog as an opportunity to catch your breath and rest between the dynamic aspects of the class. This pose has many benefits: it helps to slow down the heartbeat and restore breathing, strengthens the muscles of the arms and shoulders, and also stretches the spine.
What is chakra?
“In the thoughts and beliefs of people who practice yoga, chakras are the seven centers of spiritual power in the human body,” says Pandora. “From Sanskrit, the word“chakra”is translated as“wheel”or“disk”. In yoga, meditation and Ayurveda, this term refers to the wheels of energy that are located throughout the body. Each chakra is responsible for emotions in the body and has its own vibration frequency and color. It regulates certain functions that help make you human, and the closed chakras are thought to indicate illness, whether emotional or physical. You don't need to believe in yogic philosophy to practice yoga. Chakras are a deeper level of practice, so don't let misunderstandings block your way to the mat. 99% of yoga is about coming to class. And magic is only 1%."
Will I have to meditate?
When practicing yoga (and any other physical activity), it's important to take responsibility for your body and your mind, Jessica says. Most of the classes will include some form of meditation. But that depends on the teacher. Classes can begin with breathing exercises, which some can do very seriously and even strange (as it may seem). Meditation should not be hippie and take you to the mountains. If you learn not to think at a speed of 100 km / h, but focus your attention on the moment “here and now” (and on breathing), then you will receive mental and physical benefits from meditation.
Will I be able to stand on my hands after one lesson?
“In short, no,” Pandora says. “In yoga we talk a lot about the fact that the ego often gets the better of us. And if someone comes to yoga in order to do a handstand, I greet him and ask him to leave his ego at the door. Handstand requires incredible physical and mental preparation, and this will take some time. I advise clients not to target specific positions. If you praise yourself for doing an advanced pose, you won't be able to repeat your success the next day, you will be frustrated and agonized. Be free; each day our bodies will be different and will need different movements, food and thoughts. The kinder you are and the less ego you have that influences your yoga practice, the more benefit you will get from the practice."
What to do before and after "first class"?
Pandora recommends not eating heavy food before practice, and after that make sure you drink enough water: “During class, do not chase the norm or other class members, just listen to your body. Work to calm your mind and enjoy the process.”
What will happen to my body after class? Will it hurt?
“It really depends on the type of class, as well as the physical fitness of the person,” shares Jessica. ─ Any session that engages muscles that you would not normally use will trigger pain. It can be a pleasant pain that signals a good workout, or pain that makes you move like a penguin. You should leave the class with a feeling of lightness, forgetting about the problems of real life, relieving tension, sweating well, stretching, inhaling deeply and releasing a dose of endorphins and dopamine. In other words, you must finish yoga class in a state of euphoria."
Photo: Getty Images
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