Are you a yoga beginner? As a Yoga Teacher, the following 7 points cover some of the basic information I am often asked by beginner yoga students.
1.What Is Yoga?
I teach yoga to children and am always amazed at their understanding of yoga:
“Yoga makes me feel special and nice inside”
“Yoga helps me to relax and get to sleep”
“Yoga is fun”
“Yoga helps my brain cells to relax and go all quiet”
“I like yoga as it means I make new friends”
“Yoga is exercise”
“Yoga is stretching and relaxing”
“Yoga is a gentle version of aerobics”
What is your understanding of yoga?
The traditional meaning of the word ‘yoga’ originates from Sanskrit yuj meaning to yoke, unite, union, join together. Traditionally speaking, the goal of yoga is to achieve union, connection with the Divine. In more general terms, yoga is seen as a practical way to help you achieve a state of balance, sense of harmony and union into your life
When you look at the above list, you can see that yoga offers you a range of skills, inspirations and ways to relax, calm you down, fall asleep,meet new people and have a great time. Not bad for something that has been around for thousands of years.
2. What Are The Different Paths of Yoga?
There are four main paths of Yoga practice, which all traditionally serves as a means to help you achieve your potential and unite with your divine nature:
Karma Yoga (the path of selfless service and action),
Jnana Yoga (the path of intellect, knowledge and wisdom),
Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion and love),
Raja Yoga spiritual, ethical guidelines, known as the Yoga Sutras or Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga.)
Each path of yoga will appeal to different people depending on your personal temperament and personality. Most people in the west are familiar with the physical side of yoga. If you get a chance, try out Bhakti Yoga, or devote some of your time to a charitable cause, or take a course in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
3. What Are The Origins Of Yoga?
Yoga is so popular nowadays that many people do not realise that yoga has been around for thousands of years. There is lot of mystery surrounding the exact history and origins of yoga. Several seal discovered at the Indus Valley Civilisation (c.3300-1700 BC) sites in what is now Pakistan show figures in common yoga meditative poses, which suggest yoga was practice as early as 3000 BC.
4. What Style Of Yoga Do You Teach?
I am often asked this question by prospective students. There are various styles and different approaches to yoga. Yoga postures (known as asanas), breathing exercises, relaxation and in some cases meditation and chanting form the basis of all yoga styles.
However, different schools of yoga place difference emphasis on these aspects. Some yoga teachers, focus more on breathing techniques (known as pranayama ), whilst another may pay more attention on the alignment of the body in the poses.
The most common styles of yoga taught: Iyengar Yoga, Sivananada Yoga, Viniyoga Yoga, Astanga Yoga and Bikram Yoga.
My yoga training is based on the teachings of Swami Sivananda (1887-1963).
Swamiji trained many disciples, among them, Swami Vishnudevananda (1927-1993) whom he sent to the West to spread the teaching and practices of yoga.
Swamiji, like most yoga teachers, advocates yoga as a way of balanced holistic living. Yoga encourages you to pay attention to eating a wholesome, preferably vegetarian diet, proper breathing; proper relaxation; positive thinking and meditation.
I am very proud of my yoga lineage and although I now incorporate various styless into my practices my heart belongs to my original Sivananda teachings. When I teach, I place a lot of emphasis on breathing exercises and encourage students to deepen their sense of alignment and inner balance through connecting with their breath.
5.What Sort of Things Do You Teach In A Yoga Lesson?
Based on my understanding and yoga teaching training I teach:
Yoga Poses (known as asanas) which gently open and stretch the body, for example, the Cobra Pose, The Triangle or Downward Facing Dog Pose. All yoga poses increase flexibility, suppleness and strength;
Breathing practices (known as pranayama) designed to cleanse the body and calm the nervous system and emotions for example, Single Nostril Breathing,
Guided relaxation techniques to release body tension and promote a sense of well-being.
Meditation Techniques. I also introduce students to meditation and chanting. Meditation helps you to calm and focus your mind and promote a deep sense of inner peace. Chanting, takes the form of chanting OM at the beginning and end of a class and on occasions chanting yoga mantras.
6. Should I Book A Private Yoga Lesson Or Join An Open Class?
From experience, I feel this depends on your personal circumstances. Personal 1-2-1 Yoga Lessons are great as you get individual attention. However, if this isn’t possible, then by all means try out a class at your local yoga studio or spa. Check out the average number of people who attend the class. As a beginner, look for a class that isn’t too crowded – between seven to fifteen students is an ideal number- as this allows the teacher to get to know you, observe your practice and make appropriate adjustments to your technique.
6.Make Sure Your Teacher Is Fully Qualified And Insured
It is always best to learn yoga from a qualified yoga teacher. Ask your prospective teacher where they trained, how long their course lasted and what subject areas where covered. Also, find out how long your prospective teacher has been practising yoga and who inspires her to continue with her practice.
7. Join A Yoga For Beginners Class
Also enquire whether your prospective yoga teacher or yoga studio runs classes specifically for beginners’. A beginners’ class will be tailored to ensure you learn the foundations of yoga in a safe manner.
As you can see, there are lots of things you need to need about yoga. Yoga is such a vast subject. It is more than a set of exercises. Yogic teachings span philosophical, spiritual and ethical considerations. Yoga is a personal journey. Once you start, you will find your own understanding and meaning.
Through my blogs I hope to share with you various ways yoga can enhance your health and promote a sense of well-being.
And if you want to discuss any aspect of yoga, I am happy to share what I know. Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts in the Comment Box below. Till then, stay well and be happy.
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