Yoga for Beginners
Yoga for Newcomers
By Lauren Griffin
To begin please indulge me whilst I dispel a few of the main concerns that newcomers to yoga often express that they worry about;
To enjoy a yoga class or to benefit from yoga:
- You don’t have to be flexible!
- You don’t have to be an expert, or to have even practiced or tried yoga before.
- You don’t have to be any ‘type’ of person (no restrictions, everyone can do it, yes that means you too)!
Yoga is a very large subject to cover in one post, but you don’t have to understand or even be interested in all aspects (all though you may well become more interested) to practice and enjoy Yoga.
Yoga as we know it today, or as we practice in classes, is a physical practice of a set of poses (or Asana in Yogic terms). There are countless branches of yoga, traditions, and lineages, and also ever emerging exercise based fusion classes which incorporate yoga along with other disciplines such as Pilates and even HIIT based yoga classes. If you are unsure where to start I hope that this blog clears things up a bit for you, but I must tell you that you are your best and most important teacher, and urge you to bite the bullet and try as much variety as you can to find what feels good for you.
There are teachers and students who have trained in a particular lineage (or tradition) of Yoga and remain very loyal and structured to that lineage. And then there are teachers and students who take bits from different traditions and even different disciplines and create a more mixed practice. Both have their own strengths.
Personally, as a Yoga student, I like to practice different styles of yoga, attend as broad a range of classes as possible and learn from different teachers. And as a Yoga teacher this is reflected in how I teach my students. So I would presume when looking at a timetable in a gym, if the class title is simply Yoga then it’s likely to be this type of mixed class.
However Iyengar yoga for example is a more traditional style of Yoga founded by B.K.S. Iyengar that has an emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of posture (asana) and breath control (pranayama). Thus generally a class titled e.g. Iyengar yoga will likely vary class to class but follow this tradition or style.
These distinctions aside, the aim of all yoga practice is to harmonise breath, body and mind. Practicing yoga can bring about a greater sense of bodily awareness and posture, mental clarity and focus. It can greatly alleviate stress and can have a positive impact on other areas of life, be it health and fitness, family and relationships, work life balance, and so on. Attending a yoga class give you time and space just for you, to notice yourself, become aware of your breath, your needs and your strengths. Practicing on your yoga mat can be like practice for life; sharpening our tools of patience, persistence, breath and calm, and rewarding us, first on the mat when something finally clicks or gradually becomes easier or more familiar or helpful, and then off the mat as we take that sense of achievement or calm or relaxation or energy or whatever it is that we learned away from the mat and into our lives and our interactions with the world and others.
Yoga is a great form of rehabilitation for physical and mental ailments. As individuals we can take what we need from yoga, for example working to improve our balance or to strengthen or release our muscles to aid a specific physical injury or impingement. Similarly paying attention to specific places in our bodies we can learn mindfulness skills that may help with addiction, mental health, concentration, relaxation….. Thus yoga offers a holistic approach which many have found to be a life changing one.
We offer various types of Yoga at the Y Club. Feel free to have a look through our studio timetable.