The Beginning Students Guide to Yoga

Written by Carmela Cattuti, Kripalu Certified Yoga Instructor, LPN.

There are so many different types of yoga to choose from that it is extremely confusing for the beginning student to make an informed choice. An excellent place to start is to ask yourself why you want to make yoga part of your life. Are you primarily looking to reduce stress or build stamina, or do you want to increase your muscle mass and become more balanced? As in life, there are a myriad of paths in yoga.

forward bend

If you are seeking stress relief, then you need a restorative class with a emphasis on forward bends and twists. This class generally uses props such as blankets, belts, and blocks to sustain the postures and has a deep relaxation at the end. If it's strength building that you want then a class focusing on standing poses would be effective. If you would like a practice that increases heart-rate, then a vinyasa flow sequence would accomplish this. There is an ideal class for everyone, every body-type, and fitness level. It is never one size fits all.

If you are older with health and joint issues then chair yoga would be an appropriate choice. In urban areas there is proliferation of yoga teachers and studios. Some studios offer a variety of specialized classes catering to different populations with specific needs. Other studios focus on one style like vinyasa and power yoga.

There are also schools of yoga with studios throughout the planet where only one form is taught. These schools usually offer beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes in their particular discipline and philosophy. BKS Iyengar is a well-known yoga school and has teachers and studios throughout the U.S. This form is based on strict alignment and is an excellent segue into a yoga practice that is grounded and safe.

It is important to make a distinction between styles of yoga and yoga schools. Vinyasa and power yoga are styles of yoga, meaning they tend to be trendy. These trends come and go with what is popular in the moment. Yoga schools teach poses based on a specific philosophy that is brought into the instruction of the postures. It is always beneficial to try several styles and teachers before making a decision on a practice. Your body will tell you what class you need to meet your goals.

Once you commit to a class then your journey begins. There are many challenges for the new practitioner such as stiffness, aches, and weakness. These physical issues are actually portals to vital information for the beginner. These seemingly innocuous issues could develop into disease. It takes quite a while for the body to develop chronic conditions, but with awareness these possible health problems can be averted. For example, if you notice discomfort in your hip each time you execute a certain pose, then a trip to a chiropractor might be just the thing to alleviate the problem.

If the beginner pays close attention to the subtle messages conveyed by the body during practice then it is a win win situation; the body heals and the practitioner benefits from the healing with high energy combined with balance in body, mind, and spirit.

8 Yoga Postures For Beginners
Some people might feel overwhelmed by all the advanced yoga postures, especially beginners who aren't as flexible, or don't have enough strength. Here is a video of 8 basic yoga postures for beginners.

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