How often do we figure a person doing the headstand against some picturesque backdrop and say ‘yoga is not for me’ You might want to revisit your thought once you go through the basic tips which yoga has to offer. Read them and find yourself doing yoga against a picturesque backdrop next time!
#1 Take a deep breath out: Often we equate yoga with some tough, limb-twisting poses. And aren't you sometimes concerned that: "I can't even touch my toes, how can I do yoga?" Yoga is not about touching your toes, or stretching 98 degrees to your north-east. Its a simple process of uniting with yourself - using your breath, body and the mind. And its easy and effortless.
So, never mind if you're not Ms Flexible, or you're venturing into yoga at the age of 40, or you have secret love handles which are stressing you out – remove all those myths! The only one watching you is yourself - so just relax. The journey will be enjoyable and relaxing.
#2 Follow the tradition: It is best to start learning the yoga practice under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher who can lead you through the correct way of doing each technique. This would help you learn yoga postures properly and avoid possible injuries. Some of the philosophies or techniques taught in yoga may be new. It is a good idea to keep an open mind as it will help broaden and enhance your yoga experience.
#3 Your doctor and yoga teacher is just a call away: If you have a medical condition, inform your yoga instructor prior to the commencement of the training. It will help the teacher customize your yoga posture practice.
#4 Simple wearing, high thinking: Wear comfortable clothing while going for the yoga class or when practicing yoga at home. Also, avoid wearing belts or excessive jewelry as it could get in the way of yoga practice.
#5 Wake up at cuckoo’s call: Although it is best to practice yoga postures early morning, if it doesn’t happen, don’t let it be an excuse to not practice yoga at all! You can do it any time of the day as per convenience.
#6 Lighter stomach aids to your yoga practice: It is advised to practice on an empty stomach or at least 2-3 hours after your last meal. Also it’s advised to at least have three to four litres of water during the day as it will help you to flush out the toxins out of the body which are released duing your yoga practice.
#7 Set the tone right before you start: Sukshma Vyayam or gentle warm-up exercises help loosen up the body and prepare it for the yoga postures coming ahead.
#8 Smile to take you through the miles: See the difference for yourself. Keeping a gentle smile relaxes the body and mind and helps you enjoy the yoga postures much more.
“You can read in books how to do a yoga posture correctly,
how to breathe in or how to breathe out, but books cannot
give you that experience of union that yoga truly means. For
information to get converted into experience, you need
proper guidance (a master).”
- Kamlesh Barwal, International Art of Living Yoga Director
#9 Slow and steady yoga posture wins the race: The ancient yogic text, Patanjali Yoga Sutra, defines yoga posture (asana) as Sthira Sukham Asanam. Do only as much as you comfortably can and then just stretch a bit more (to improve body flexibility). Use the breath as a reference point, when it is light and long, then the muscles begin to relax, but when it is jagged or uneven, it means you have over-exerted. Going slightly beyond your comfort zone will keep the yoga practice interesting and will add a spark of challenge as you progress and adopt new postures.
#10 Every yoga posture is unique, like you: Wherever you are in the yogic posture, that is fine for you. Avoid comparing yourself to other students in the yoga class. Remember that each body type is unique and different people are at different levels of expertise. Some might easily perform a particular asana, while the others may need a little more time and practice to get there. Therefore, don't feel pressurized and exert yourself.
Do not be alarmed if you experience some soreness in the muscles during the initial days of the practice. But if there is any pain, inform your instructor immediately.The crux here is to be regular with your yoga practice and have patience. Just like any other discipline it will take its own time.
#11 Energy transformed!: As you complete yoga posture practice, don't be in a great hurry to get up and start moving about with the tasks lined up for the day. It is a good idea to lie down in Yoga Nidra for a few minutes, as it helps cool down the body and consolidate the energy produced through yoga posture practice. Yoga Nidra is also beneficial in completely relaxing the mind and body after the yoga workout.
You will be able to experience its subtler and deeper benefits only by practicing yoga regularly over a period of time. Yoga encompasses yoga postures, timeless ancient philosophy, pranayamas (breathing techniques) and meditations, which take you beyond the body level, offering a deeper spiritual experience.
So give yourself that time and be patient. The rewards of regular practice will unfold in ways you could not imagine before. Happy practicing, yogis!
The piece has been based on inputs by Kamlesh Barwal, Art of Living Yoga Director