So you have finally decided to start practicing yoga but you don’t really know where to start, how to keep up, or what poses to practice.
I know that when you look at those skinny flexible ladies practicing yoga, you feel intimidated. Looking at your body/flexibility and then looking at theirs get you discouraged. Thoughts like, “It is impossible for you to reach their level of flexibility,” crosses your mind.
If you are like me, whose body is nowhere close to theirs, then it would just feel like you are hoping against hope. However, if your body is similar to those ladies, then I am sure you would give it a try and when you can’t do it like them, you feel demotivated.
But let me tell you something. Nobody reaches the level of professionalism in anything if they don’t practice. All these yoga trainers were just like us when they started. So don’t compare your level with their level today.
I am not a professional yogi or anything. I just recently came to know more about yoga. However, the reason I am confidently sharing these motivational words because I experienced the difference with my body and mind today and four months ago. So I know that, in the long run, I can be one of those ladies too.
I started practicing yoga since the quarantine started (that’s March 2020). I had zero (I mean it..ZEROOO) flexibility. I could barely move my body let alone stretching it to different kinds of yoga poses.
My story with yoga started before March. Last year, a yoga instructor (who was my colleague’s friend) visited our school to have a free session as a promotion to her yoga classes. Before this day I never really believed in yoga and its benefits. When yoga comes up, all I do is mockery while thinking that yoga was all about the Lotus (Padmasana) pose which didn’t make sense to me at all.
But then by the end of the session, I got to experience other types of yoga poses which were exciting. I couldn’t even believe the way I was feeling about it. The best part of it all was, unexpectedly, my body felt lighter and fresher. I could truly feel the difference after practicing those simple stretches.
The motivational part was that people who were slimmer than me were also unable to stretch with flexibility just like I couldn’t. This made me realize that flexibility is not about how big you are. It is about how much you practice being flexible.
After that day, I decided that I am going to look into yoga lessons and try to make it part of my lifestyle and daily routine. But then I got busy trying to get through my day and barely had time to do the necessary research to start practicing yoga.
When this quarantine thing started, I had a lot of time to research and start my daily yoga practice. What pushed me to take it seriously and actually do it was that my body got stiffer. I started getting back pain, I was becoming lazy the whole day, and staying at home 24/7 made me feel stressed and depressed most of the time. So I needed to channel all these negative vibes somehow. So I started yoga!
Now since you want to start your journey in yoga too, I am going to share with you all the basic guides that I came to know based on the researches I made and my personal practices.
What exactly is yoga?
To keep it simple, yoga is a full mind and body exercise. It is all about practices and techniques that are designed for integrating your mind, body, and spirit in order to stay supple and energetic.
It is composed of different postures (aka asanas), breathing techniques (aka pranayama), and meditation principles with a little physical activity. These will help you learn how to be more mindful of your own body.
There are different types of yoga practices that may confuse you at first. Your choice on which yoga practice to follow depends on your fitness goals. But for now, I would prefer you to look for easy poses that help you work on your flexibility.
If you can afford to hire a yoga instructor, then that would be amazing as he/she can help you work on your fitness goals. But if you are like me, then you can’t afford a yogi instructor so you would look for ways to practice at home. The poses shared below can help with that!
Benefits of Yoga
When I researched the benefits of yoga, it was endless. Yoga has all different kinds of benefits that helped in every aspect of life. Even when it comes to practicing healthy virtues and good values, yoga has a hand in accomplishing them.
The major benefits of yoga are divided into three categories: physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. I have gathered some of the basic benefits of yoga related to these categories which I personally experienced and benefited from.
- Improves your body’s flexibility and balance.
- Reduces back pain.
- Perfects your body posture.
- Increases overall muscle strength.
- Helps control your weight (also to lose weight).
- Improves digestion.
- Improves your energy levels.
- Lowers your blood pressure and sugar levels.
- Boosts your immune system.
- Reduces stress and depression.
- Get better sleep at night.
- Make you feel contented.
- Enhances intellectual skills which help in decision-making.
How often should I practice yoga as a beginner?
There is no specific number of hours you need to practice to gain as many benefits as possible. But if you think about it logically, it goes without saying that the more you practice yoga, the faster you can get to experience those benefits.
I would always encourage you to practice yoga daily even if it is just for 10 mins. Especially if you are just starting, your motivation to accomplish your goal will push you to practice more often which is a good thing. Use that motivation to build your flexibility.
My ideal practice is 20-30 mins every day. Today, I make sure I spend at least 20 mins practicing yoga daily. However, I started with 10 mins for the first week because my body was very stiff. It was quite painful practicing yoga during my starting days as it took time for my muscles to get flexible.
My advice to you is to define your goal before deciding how many hours you want to spend practicing yoga. With a hectic schedule, it can be hard for some of you to spare time practicing yoga. Regardless of that, you need to make it a habit to spare time for yoga. Even 10 mins every morning can make a difference.
Keep in mind that yoga is not a chore you have to do regularly. The minute you take yoga as a chore, you will feel burdened to practice it and you’ll never enjoy it. So create a schedule that best fits you and enjoy its benefits.
What is the Best Time to Practice Yoga?
The preferable time is early morning right after you wake up. It will help you both physically and mentally throughout your day. It will also improve your body’s stiffness making you more flexible and fresh in the morning.
Of course you can practice yoga in the afternoon too, but you don’t hear much about it right? This is because most people have their lunch during their afternoon break or hours close to it. You need to have at least 2-3 hours of gap between your meals and yoga practice. If you can accomplish that, then it is okay to practice yoga during the afternoon.
Evening yoga practices is preferred than afternoon practices. In the evening, your muscle surely experiences tension and stiffness from the long day you had at work/school. Practicing yoga at this time will help release those tensioned muscles and gives them the relaxation they are looking for.
Another benefit of evening yoga practice is that it helps with digesting the food you had the whole day. This way it improves bowel movements and prevents constipation.
So if you are unable to practice yoga early in the morning, then choose to practice it in the evening.
If you can not complete your 20-min daily yoga session in the morning, then try to divide your time between morning and evening. You can practice yoga 10 mins in the morning and later do another 10 mins during the evening.
To sum up, there is no “best time” to practice yoga. It fits in every schedule. Just keep track of your meals and everything else is okay.
13 Yoga poses for beginners
There are over 300 poses in yoga. But for us beginners, there is only a limit of how much we can stretch our bodies. This is why we need to take it one step at a time and start with these basic poses.
I have gathered 13 yoga poses for you as a beginner to help you explore your body’s abilities to stretch. Then I added some other yoga poses that you may be able to practice as well.
You may feel like these are just very basic and you have the ability to do more. I love the spirit and I’m proud of your motivation. However, if you almost never practiced yoga, do these poses for at least a week’s time before moving on to a more challenging pose.
Take 5-8 breaths in every pose. That would be like 20-40 secs, depending on your flexibility and balance. It is okay to start with 10 secs too if 20 is too long (it was for me when I started). In a short time, you’ll be able to do each pose for 30-40 secs.
- Improves posture.
- Strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles.
- Firms abdomen and buttocks.
- Relieves sciatica.
- Reduces flat feet.
- Stretches the chest and shoulders.
- Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves, and spine.
- Tones the leg muscles excellently.
- Reduces flat feet.
- Strengthens your shoulders, arms, legs, ankles, and back
- Opens yours hips, chest, and lungs.
- Improves focus, balance, and stability.
- Encourages good circulation and respiration.
- Stretches your arms, legs, shoulders, neck, belly, groins, and ankles.
- Energizes the entire body.
- Stretches your hips, groins, and shoulders.
- Opens your chest and lungs.
- Builds stamina and concentration.
- Energizes tired limbs.
- Helps relieve backaches.
- Develops balance and stability.
- Improves circulation and respiration.
- Therapeutic for flat fleet, sciatica, osteoporosis, and carpal tunnel.
- Stretches legs, muscles around the knee, ankle joints, hips, groin muscles, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest, and spine.
- Strengthens legs, knees, ankles, abdomen, obliques, and back.
- Relieves stress.
- Improves digestion and constipation.
- Helps to alleviate back pain and symptoms of menopause.
- Used therapeutically for anxiety, neck pain, and sciatica.
Extended Side Angle
- Relieves stiffness in the shoulders and back.
- Provides a deep stretch to the groins and hamstrings.
- Improves stamina.
- Strengthens the legs, knees, and ankles, while also stretching and toning the abdominal muscles.
- Therapeutic for constipation, sciatica, menstrual discomfort, and low backache.
Standing Forward Bend
- Stretches the hips, hamstrings, and calves.
- Strengthens the thighs and knees.
- Keeps your spine strong and flexible.
- Reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue
- Calms the mind and soothes the nerves.
- Relieves tension in the spine, neck, and back.
- Activates the abdominal muscles.
- Eases symptoms of headaches, and insomnia.
- Improves digestion.
- May lower high blood pressure.
- Releases tension in the back, shoulders, and chest.
- Recommended if you have dizziness or fatigue.
- Helps alleviate stress and anxiety.
- Lengthens and stretches the spine.
- Relieves neck and lower back pain.
- It gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles.
- Normalizes circulation throughout the body.
- It stretches muscles, tendons and ligaments in the knee.
- Calms the mind and body.
- Encourages strong and steady breathing.
- Increases flexibility.
- Relieves menstrual pain.
- Strengthens your spine.
- Stretches the hips, abdomen and back.
- Massages and stimulates organs in the belly.
Downward facing dog
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.
- Energizes the body.
- Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands.
- Strengthens the arms and legs.
- Relieves menstrual discomfort when done with head supported.
- Improves digestion.
- Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue.
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, and sinusitis.
- Increases muscles definition in your shoulders, chest, legs, and back.
- Heightens metabolism.
- Reduces back pain.
- Gives you better posture.
- Improves balance.
- Enhances bone and joint health.
- Boosts mood and relieves stress.
- Stretches muscles in the shoulders, chest and abdomen.
- Decreases stiffness of the lower back.
- Strengthens the spine, arms and shoulders.
- Increases flexibility.
- Improves menstrual irregularities.
- Elevates mood.
- Firms and tones the buttocks.
- Invigorates the heart.
- Relieves stress and fatigue.
- Improves digestion.
- Soothes sciatica.
- Relaxes your whole body.
- Releases stress, fatigue, depression and tension.
- Improves concentration.
- Cures insomnia.
- Relaxes your muscles.
- Calms the mind and improves mental health.
- Excellent asana for stimulating blood circulation.
- Beneficial for those suffering from neurological problem, asthma, constipation, diabetes, indigestion.
- This posture brings a deep, meditative state of rest, which may help in the repair of tissues and cells, and in releasing stress. It also gives time for the yoga workout to sink in at a deeper level.
- This posture leaves you in a state of rejuvenation. It is the perfect way to end a yoga session, particularly if it has been a fast-paced one.
- It helps reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia.
Other yoga poses
The poses above are basic but very effective yoga poses for beginners. I always start my yoga practice with them. With time, I started looking into other poses and added them to my poses list. The Corpse pose should always be the last pose. The rest are interchangeable.
Here are some of the other yoga poses that I practice which you can too as a beginner.
- Tree Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Warrior III Pose
- Revolved Triangle Pose
- Seated Forward Fold
- Half Moon Pose
- Bound Angle Pose
- Intense Side Stretch Pose
- Camel Pose
Yoga is an exercise that helps you develop a healthy lifestyle. You don’t have to try and be like the ladies in these videos. Make their flexibility to be your long term goal. But for now, all you have to do is work on your flexibility to enjoy your life.
Thank you for reading till the end 🙂
If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to like it and share it using the social media buttons shown below.
Feel free to share your thoughts on yoga in the comments below.