Practicing yoga is something that can benefit anyone. You don’t necessarily need the best yoga pants or yoga leggings to practice. Simple women’s workout clothes or gym leggings are more than enough. The most important thing is that you are comfortable and able to move freely. Many people believe they must be able to do all the poses and have the best clothes to practice yoga. The truth is that you only need to be comfortable and be able to breathe to do yoga.
The best way to start a simple and gentle yoga practice is by connecting to the breath. It is imperative to learn how to breathe deep, full yogic breaths before pushing yourself to learn how to perform different yoga poses. A full yogic breath involves breathing deeply into the abdomen first before filling the rib cage area and chest with air. The majority of people breathe only with their chests, using only a fraction of their lung capacity. If you can learn to breathe full yogic breaths, you are already doing yoga.
After learning to breathe, you can start with some basic yoga poses. It is very common for people to push themselves beyond their limits, especially when they are beginning yoga. If you are someone who is physically active in other ways, yoga can be a challenging yet humbling experience for your ego. Letting go of expectations, judgments, and pressure are important components of yoga that are often underestimated. There are two rules when it comes to yoga:
- Listen To Your Body. No one knows your body better than you. If a teacher is pushing you to express a pose, explore it but do not attempt or hold anything that doesn’t feel right for your body. Rest when you need to and let go of the pressure to perform.
- Breathe! It needs to be emphasized over and over again. If you are in a pose and not breathing, you have missed the purpose. The body can only benefit from yoga poses if the breath is paired with them. The breath allows for more profound expressions and releases tensions. Holding the breath can lead to pains and strains.
Some poses are better than others for beginners because they are simple and not too strenuous. A great beginner yoga sequence could look like:
- Start in Savasana (corpse pose) and connect with the breath. Savasana is often considered the most challenging pose because it requires you to relax. Always begin and end your practice with savasana. The final savasana is especially important, so if you skip one, make it at the beginning rather than the end.
- Bring your knees to your chest and allow them to fall to one side for reclined spinal twist. Remember the rules. Find the expression of the pose that feels right for your body. You may prop your knees up on a pillow for more support. Extend your arms into a “T” shape and turn your head to the opposite side, that your knees have fallen towards. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Come to tabletop position, and practice cat and cow. As you inhale, arch your back, letting your navel fall towards the flow for cow pose. Exhale and allow your back to arch up towards the sky for cat pose.
This simple series is a great start as it helps to awaken the spine. The most important thing is to remember the rules! Yoga is for everyone.