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What are some basic yoga stretches for beginners?

What are some basic yoga stretches for beginners? 5

The benefits of yoga

Body and mind

Perhaps the word yoga conjures up for you people firing themselves into incredible positions. But it’s more than a question of flexibility. In Sanskrit the word yog means “union”. The practice of yoga is a union of body and mind. This harmonious union helps the individual in his search for a state of peace and calm.

Yoga is about your body’s ability to put together a series of postures that require concentration and balance, and in doing so, you stretch and tone your muscles. No cumbersome equipment is needed, so you can practice it almost anywhere: in a classroom, in the tranquility of your home, even on holiday.

Over time, people who practice yoga notice physical, mental, and even spiritual benefits. Some health benefits include:

  • greater energy,
  • lower blood pressure,
  • a reduced level of stress or anxiety
  • improved immunity,
  • greater flexibility,
  • a greater range of motion,
  • better concentration,
  • better cardiovascular health and more endurance,
  • better tone and greater muscle strength,
  • greater respiratory capacity,
  • better support,
  • a possible weight loss.

Many people find that yoga allows them to let go of stress while providing a space for relaxation and meditation. It also allows a better awareness of the body and its potential for evolution.

Is yoga for you?

Young and old can choose yoga as a way of exercise. Even people with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and asthma can benefit from yoga and achieve greater range of motion, muscle building and more endurance.

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For the treatment of osteoporosis, a combination of diet and exercise with weights is beneficial. But during yoga exercises, it’s your own weight that you support, making it a form of low-impact exercise, perfect for people who can not run or engage in high-impact activities.

Pregnancy is a great time to incorporate yoga into an exercise program. Stretching, strengthening of muscle tone, learning breathing techniques, prepare the future mothers well for their delivery. And after birth, yoga is an excellent way to relieve stress and increase energy levels.

The contents are only intended for information purposes. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health professional on matters related to a medical condition.

What is yoga – and what it is not

The origins of yoga

Yoga was born among the peoples of the Indus Valley in South Asia more than 5000 years ago. In the old days, yoga was often a lonely study in the forest, where teachers passed on their knowledge of asanas (postures) and breathing techniques to their students . After several changes in the pre-classical phase, classical and post-classical yoga as we know it today, has finally made its debut in North America in the late 19 th  century.

What is yoga?

A typical session in a yoga class involves practicing a number of postures, and ends with quiet meditation, with all members of the class lying on their carpet. Meditation is meant to calm the body and the mind; it involves concentration, but not necessarily a religious attitude. A class is conducted by a qualified instructor and usually lasts 60 to 90 minutes.

What are some basic yoga stretches for beginners? 7

Course participants adopt a variety of standing, sitting and lying postures to lengthen and strengthen different muscles. The instructor describes and demonstrates the posture and teaches you the proper breathing techniques by inspiring at a given point of the pose and expiring at another time. Breathing helps to focus on stretching and relaxing in the posture. Breathing by the rules helps to focus when maintaining a position that requires stability. Overall, breathing and concentration are the keys to becoming fully aware of your body’s limitations and potential strengths.

“Expect to be frustrated and lose your balance often during your first yoga classes,” said a follower with long experience in this discipline.

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The myths surrounding yoga

Myth # 1: You have to be very flexible to get into yoga.

You may think that you have to be able to wrap yourself around like a pretzel to do yoga, but that’s not true. Why should we teach flexibility to people who are already flexible? In fact, lack of flexibility is a great reason to get into yoga. As you begin to learn and practice the basics of yoga, your body becomes softer. Over time you will notice an improvement in your ability to take different postures. There are many levels, and there is always room for a new challenge to overcome.

Myth # 2: Yoga is not the equivalent of a good gym session.

Most people do not see much in common between cardiovascular exercise and yoga. Indeed, in yoga you do not make quick movements to the rhythm of the boom-boom of a deafening music, as in most classes of aerobics. Nevertheless the challenges of yoga are strong enough to increase your heartbeat. In class you practice postures that require concentration and the ability to maintain a pose, which requires intense muscular effort – try this for example: lying on the floor, straighten the bust at 45 ° and keep the pose for a minute. Your lungs and your heart are also solicited. Learning a proper inspiration and expiration technique allows you to get the most out of each posture and

Myth # 3: Yoga is boring.

Not at all  ! Yoga is fun, and it’s a challenge. More and more people are becoming followers of this ancient form of exercise. If you like competitive sports, be aware that in yoga you are competing with your own limitations in order to reach your full potential.

What are the risks?

Although in yoga, students try to glide smoothly from one posture to another, injuries can occur. Possible risks include:

  • tearing cartilage;
  • muscular breakdown or sprains;
  • neck and back pain
  • injuries due to repetitive movements and excessive stretching (may occur on the wrists, shoulders, neck, spine, pelvis, hamstrings and knees).
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By taking the proper precautions, you can minimize the risk of injury. Here’s how :

  • follow your own pace. Do not try to be clever – you will pay the price;
  • listen to your body. Know the difference between pain and discomfort. If you feel pain, do not force yourself to hold the posture;
  • be careful when bending your back, especially if you already have a back problem;
  • wait 2 or 3 hours after a meal to do yoga;
  • if you have injuries or medical conditions, tell your instructor before classes begin.

If you have a medical problem, consult your doctor to find out if yoga is right for you.

The contents are only intended for information purposes. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health professional on matters related to a medical condition.

Yoga styles

Who said that yoga lacked style? In fact there are so many kinds of yoga that the task of choosing one may seem insurmountable. Which one will be right for you? You will want to do some research, and maybe even try one before making a final decision.

Here are some of the best known yoga styles:

Hatha – this classic approach emphasizes stretching and muscle building. Perfect for beginners, this style focuses on increasing flexibility, breathing techniques, and maintaining postures.

Ashtanga – this yoga style makes use of more energetic movements. Beginners are not encouraged to start with this type of yoga because of its physical demands.

Iyengar – created by one of the most renowned masters, BKS Iyengar, this style of yoga requires a perfect alignment of the body in each posture and, in some cases, the use of accessories for postures.

Kundalini – This form of yoga, one of the most practiced, focuses on breathing techniques, postures and meditation.

Bikram – If you like warmth, this type of yoga is for you. The classes take place in a warm environment meant to facilitate the stretching of the muscles, and the students sweat a lot throughout a series of postures. Bikram Choudhury is the founder of this style of yoga.

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