"I am brand new, total beginner ..."
The beauty of yoga is that YOU, exactly as you are, can practice yoga and enjoy all its benefits. Whether you are young or old, overweight or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body. Don’t be intimidated by yoga terminology, fancy yoga studios and complicated poses. Yoga is for everyone.
If you are like most yoga beginners, you likely have quite a few questions. Well, these FAQ’s for yoga beginners should help to get you started!
What is Yoga?
What is normally thought of as yoga, here in Europe, is really Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga attains the union of mind, body and spirit through a practice of asanas [yoga postures], pranayama [yoga breathing] and mudra [symbolic fingers, hands or body gestures]. The word Yoga essentially means union.
There are so many definitions of Yoga!
You can read books, web sites, listen podcasts, but the most important is your personal, intimate, inner experience of yoga which arises with regular, patient, dedicated practice.
With all that, comes your own understanding, and where ever it brings you that is or will be the ultimate reality, your yoga world.
- during yoga class and in every day life
Many times during the day, we tend to hold the breath or we breathe short and shallow while in stress. It may also happen to yoga beginners while holding a posture, especially in a challenging pose.
What we want is to create a calm and relaxed body, breath and mind, through the conscious use of the breath. Breathing techniques are useful support both in everyday life and during yoga class.
Breath is the foundation of our life. We live as long we breathe!
It’s a tool that’s always with us. We can access it any time for calm, balance, and presence of mind.
Like yoga or meditation, there are many forms of breath-work and they all have their own approaches for using the breath as a catalyst for positive change.
How to start
If you’re a newcomer to yoga, it would be ideal to take a few one-on-one classes before starting with practice.
Your will learn basic yoga asanas and sequences, how to breathe properly and how to adapt yoga postures during the group yoga class to your body and health status. A yoga teacher can help make sure you’re not doing yoga incorrectly. Once you feel comfortable, you can then transition to practicing group yoga either online or in yoga studio.
How to improve after starting
Repetition and consistency are the keys to moving forward. After you’ve found a teacher, group and location [virtual or real] that works for you, try these tips ...
√ Improvement tips
Be regular, be consistent! Practice at least twice a week to start to incorporate yoga into your life.
Notice the effects a consistent yoga practice has on you by observing how your body feels, and how interactions and relationships outside of your yoga practice feel.
Take a one-on-one [Private Class] once in a while. If you want to improve, private instruction will be useful as a support with advanced poses.
Attend yoga workshops where teachers can break down certain aspects of the yoga practice in more detail.
Make yoga an essential part of your life! You do not need to become a monk, there are many simple ways to align your life with the principles of yoga: try eating less animal protein (or none!), declutter your home, be honest, create a daily practice of gratitude and kindness. Somehow it will in turn enhance your practice on the mat.
Before we explain the most commonly used yoga terms, a few words about the language from which these terms originate - Sanskrit.
Sanskrit is an ancient Indic language, in which the Hindu scriptures and classical Indian epic poems are written. It is also the language of Yoga and Ayurveda. In yoga, Sanskrit is very important. Why? Every letter of the Sanskrit alphabet has a unique sound and vibration, that bring specific effects in the physical and spiritual bodies when spoken. Every yoga pose has a unique Sanskrit name.
So, let's start with the most common yoga terms for beginners.
Language of Yoga
- a beginners guide to speaking like a yogi
• NAMASTE - One translation being: "The light in me honours the light in you", the other: “The light within me bows to the light within you.” The word is said at the end of every yoga class with hands in Anjali position.
• ASANA - In the context of a class, Asana is the term used to describe the physical poses themselves.
MUDRA - A hand / body position that is meant to bring connection and focus to the practitioner, such as: Anjali Mudra, pressing the palms together at the heart; Jnana Mudra, touching the pointer finger and thumb together with the remaining three fingers pulled away.
• PRANA - Life force; energy.
• PRANAYAMA - Breath control or breathing technique. Pranayama is the connection between breath and movement in yoga practice. Proper pranayama allows for the proper flow of prana.
• CHAKRA - Chakras are energy centres or wheels of energies in the body. They are located between the base of the spine and the crown of the head. Keeping the chakras balanced has a positive effect on our well-being.
• HATHA - In Sanskrit, “ha” means the sun and “tha” means the moon. Together, they represent the mastery of the entire body, including its functions. Hatha yoga is the style that forms the basis for most yoga styles.
• VINYASA - Vinyasa means “movement linked with breath.” The vinyasa is a collection of yoga poses that flow into one another while the breath flows along with it.
• UJJAYI - Type of breathing commonly translated as the victorious breath or ocean breath. Ujjayi breath is calming and encourages awareness on the breath.
• SACRUM - a triangular-shaped bone in the lower back.
• STERNUM - breastbone – long, flat narrow bone that runs vertically down the centre of the chest.
• TAILBONE - the little bone at the end of your spine.
• SURYA NAMASKAR - Sun salutation – a sequence of asanas. This dynamic yang sequence is a very popular sequence often used to warm up the body at the start of a yoga class.
As aspects of practice become more familiar, you can begin to develop focus, and concentrated intention. With continued focus, more and more time will pass between periods of distraction. Your practice will start to generate a feeling of clarity and calm.