Prerequisites for Yoga

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  • Below 12 years of age Yoga postures should not be practiced for long duration and asanas are to be maintained for very short duration.
  • Every day practice Yoga for at least 30 to 45 minutes to get maximum results.
  • The best suited time to practice is early morning hours, but it can be practiced in the afternoon after following food restrictions.
  • Food restrictions – stomach should be empty while practicing, that is you should consume solid food 3.5 hours before practicing and liquid 1 hour before.
  • Place should be spacious, clean, airy, bright and away from disturbances.
  • Yoga should not be practiced on bare floor but keep mat or carpet below.
  • Clothes should be comfortable, loose, clean.
  • Undergarments are necessary.
  • Yoga prefers vegetarian diet. But avoid spicy and hot diet as much as possible.
  • Women should not practice Yoga during Pregnancy.
  • One should have faith in Yoga and what he is doing.

Asanas

Various Yoga poses needed to get started are listed according to their types

Standing Poses

  • Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Extended Side Angle Pose – Utthita Parsvakonasana
  • Garland Pose – Malasana
  • Half Forward Bend – Ardha Uttanasana
  • Mountain Pose – Tadasana
  • Pyramid Pose – Parsvottonasana
  • Raised Hands Pose – Urdhva Hastasana
  • Standing Forward Bend – Uttanasana
  • Standing Straddle Forward Bend – Prasarita Padottanasana
  • Triangle Pose – Trikonasana
  • Warrior I – Virabhadrasana I
  • Warrior II – Virabhadrasana II

Seated Poses

  • Cobbler’s Pose – Baddha Konasana
  • Easy Pose – Sukhasana
  • Half Lord of the Fishes Pose – Ardha Masyendrasana
  • Head to Knee Pose – Janu Sirsanana
  • Seated Forward Bend – Paschimottanasana
  • Seated Wide Legged Stradle – Upavistha Konasana
  • Staff Pose – Dandasana

Resting/Supine Poses

  • Child’s Pose – Balasana
  • Corpse Pose – Savasana
  • Goddess Pose – Supta Baddha Konasana
  • Happy Baby Pose – Ananda Balasana
  • Legs Up the Wall – Viparita Karani
  • Pelvic Tilts
  • Reclined Big Toe Pose – Supta Padangusthasana
  • Supine Spinal Twist – Supta Masyendrasana

Backbends

  • Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
  • Bridge Pose (Supported Version)
  • Cat – Cow Stretch
  • Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana
  • Knees, Chest, and Chin – Ashtanga Namaskara

 

Balancing Poses

  • Plank Pose
  • Hands and Knees Balance
  • Side Plank Variations – Vasisthasana Variations
  • Tree Pose – Vrksasana

Basics Asanas

There are many poses or asanas in yoga that are good for beginners hence, detailed below are asanas that will stretch and strengthen major muscle groups.

Corpse Pose (Savasana) – It stimulate blood circulation and will lessen or relieve fatigue, nervousness, asthma, constipation, diabetes, indigestion, and insomnia. It will also improve one’s mental concentration.

  • Rotate legs in and out, and then let them fall gently out to the sides.
  • Let arms fall alongside body, slightly separated from the body, palms facing upwards.
  • Rotate the spine by turning head from side to side to center it.
  • Then start stretching self out, as though someone is pulling head away from feet, shoulders down and away from neck, legs down and away from pelvis.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly from abdomen.
  • Hold pose for several minutes. Make mind still and concentrate on breath or the body.
  • After doing the pose, bend knees. Using legs, push self onto one side.
  • Push self in a sitting position.

Easy Pose (Sukhasana) – It is a relaxation pose intended for Meditation. It promotes inner calm and straightens the spine, opens the hips, and relieves tiredness. It is very easy to do. Beginners can try doing this pose with a thick cushion for added comfort.

  • Sit down on the floor or a Yoga Mat.
  • Cross legs, placing feet below knees.
  • Clasp hands around knees.
  • Keep head and body straight.

Neck Exercises – Many people hold tension in their necks and shoulders, leading to stiffness, bad posture and tension headaches. Repeating these five yoga Neck Exercises eases tension, increases flexibility and tones the muscles.

  • Bend your head forward, chin on chest, then back to original position.
  • Bend to the right, then back to the original position.
  • Bend backward, then back to the original position.
  • Bend to the left, then back to the original position.
  • Bend forward, chin on chest, move from right to the left, then move from left to right.

Shoulder Lifts – Many people hold tension in their necks and shoulders, leading to stiffness, bad posture, and tension headaches.

  • Do this exercise slowly and keep your spine straight and your neck relaxed.
  • Raise your right shoulder, then drop it down.
  • Raise your left shoulder, then drop it down.
  • Raise both shoulders at once, then drop them down again.

Mountain Pose – Tadasana – Just because these poses are simple doesn’t mean that they are going to be easy.

Raised Arms Pose – Urdhva Hastansana – Inhale and bring your arms up and over your head.

Standing Forward Bend – Uttanasana – Exhale and fold over your legs into a forward bend.

Garland Pose – Malasana –  Move your feet out to the edges of your mat and bend your knees, coming into a squat. The toes may turn out if necessary.

Lunge Pose – Straighten your legs and move your feet back under your hip before stepping your left leg to the back of your mat and bending your right knee for a deep lunge.

Plank Pose – After your second lunge, step the left foot back so that it is next to the right foot at the back of your mat.

Staff Pose – After catching your breath, swing your legs around so that they are outstretched in front of you.

Seated Forward Bend – Paschimottanasana – On an exhalation, bring your torso over your legs in a forward bend.

Head to Knee Pose – Janu Sirsasana – Come back up to sit and bend your left leg, bringing the sole of the left foot inside your right thigh.

Happy Baby Pose – Ananda Balasana – Lie down on your back and hug your knees into your chest.

Surya Namaskar

The Sun Salute (Sun Salutation, Salute to the Sun) is often practiced in a morning yoga session.

Yoga Breathing

Yoga breathing, or Pranayama, is the science of breath control. It consists of series of exercises especially intended to meet the body’s needs and keep it in vibrant health. Pranayama comes from the following words:

  • Prana – “life force” or “life energy”
  • Yama – “discipline” or “control”
  • Ayama – “expansion”, “non-restraint”, or “extension”

Thus, Pranayama means “breathing techniques” or “breath control”. Ideally, this practice of opening up the inner life force is not merely to take healthy deep breaths. It is intended for yoga practitioners to help and prepare them in their Meditation process.

The stages of Pranayama

  • Arambha – the commencement stage wherein the person’s interest in Pranayama is awakened
  • Ghata – the stage where the three sariras merge to envelope the soul. The three sariras are gross, subtle, and causal.
  • Parichay- the stage where the yogi experiences the knowledge of Pranayama
  • Nispatti- the stage where the yogi goes beyond his physical body, and unites with the supreme

Benefits of Pranayama

Breathing is a normal part of our life, though we fail to pay attention to it. It is an autonomic function of the body that we perform even without concentrating on it. Why then do we have to learn yoga breathing? Here are some reasons why Pranayama is important:

  • Pranayama teaches us the proper way to breathe. We became used to breathing from our chest, using only a fraction of the lungs, not knowing that this unhealthy and unnatural way of inhaling may lead to several complications.
  • Pranayama reduces the toxins and body wastes from within our body. It prevents one from acquiring diseases.
  • Pranayama helps in one’s digestion. With the proper way of breathing, one’s metabolism and health condition will start to improve.
  • Pranayama develops our concentration and focus. It fights away stress and relaxes the body. Controlling one’s breathing also results to serenity and peace of mind.
  • Pranayama offers a better self-control. Through concentration, one can better handle temper and reactions. Mind can function clearly, avoiding arguments and wrong decisions. Moreover, self-control also involves control over one’s physical body.
  • Pranayama leads to spiritual journey through a relaxed body and mind.

The Stages of Breathing in Yoga

Each cycle of Breathing which is usually thought of as merely a single inhaling followed by a single exhaling, may be analyzed into four phases or stages. The transitions from inhaling to exhaling and from exhaling to inhaling involve reversals in the direction of the movements of muscles and of expansive or contractive movements of lungs, thorax and abdomen. The time necessary for such reversals can be very short

  • Puraka (Inhalation) – A single inhalation is termed Puraka. It is a process of drawing in air and is expected to be smooth and continuous.
  • Abhyantara Kumbhaka (Pause After Inhaling) Full Pause – Kumbhaka consists of deliberate stoppage of flow of air and retention of the air in the lungs, without any movement of lungs or muscles or any part of the body and without any incipient movements.
  • Rechaka (Exhalation) – The third stage, Exhalation, is called Rechaka. Like inhalation, it too should be smooth and continuous, though often the speed of exhaling is different from that of inhaling. Normally, muscular energy is used for inhaling whereas exhaling consists merely of relaxing the tensed muscles. Such relaxing forces air from the lungs as they return to a relaxed condition.
  • Bahya Kumbhaka (Pause After Exhaling) Empty Pause – The Fourth Stage of Breathing, the pause after exhaling, is also called kumbhaka, especially when the stoppage is deliberate or prolonged. This empty pause completes the cycle which terminates as the pause ends and a new inhalation begins.

Kapalabhati (Cleaning Breath)

Kapalabhati is a Breathing Technique used specifically for cleansing. If we have a lot of mucus in the air passages or feel tension and blockages in the chest it is often helpful to breathe quickly. In this practice, we deliberately breathe faster and at the same time use only Abdominal Breathing, that is, diaphragmatic, not Chest Breathing.  The process is as

  • Take two normal breaths.
  • Now exhale, pulling in your abdomen. Repeat twenty times, keeping a steady rhythm and emphasizing the exhalation each time.
  • Then inhale, exhale completely, inhale fully and hold your breath for as long as you comfortably can.
  • Slowly exhale.

Alternate Nostril (Anuloma Viloma)

In it inhale through one nostril, retain the breath, and exhale through the other nostril in a ratio of 2:8:4. The left nostril is the path of the Nadi called Ida and the right nostril is the path of the Nadi called Pingala. If you are really healthy, you will breathe predominantly through the Ida nostril about one hour and fifty minutes, then through the Pingala nostril. But in many people, this natural rhythm is disturbed. Anuloma Viloma restores, equalizes and balances the flow of Prana in the body.

  • Inhale through the left nostril, closing the right with the thumb, to the count of four.
  • Hold the breath, closing both nostrils, to the count of sixteen.
  • Exhale through right nostril, closing left with the ring and little fingers, to the count of eight.
  • Inhale through the right nostril, keeping the left nostril closed with the ring and little fingers, to the count of four.
  • Hold the breath, closing both nostrils, to the count of sixteen.
  • Exhale through the left nostril, keeping the right closed with the thumb, to the count of eight.

Safety Tips

  • Breathing Exercises should never be pushed to the point of weariness or exhaustion.
  • Exercises should not be repeated too often.
  • They should not be merely mechanical.
  • There should be no hurry or haste.
  • Attention should be concentrated on the exercise while it is being performed.
  • There should always be variety and change in the exercises.
  • Exercise should always be gentle and nonviolent.
  • Breathing should not be jerky or irregular, but smooth, steady, and continuous.

Mediation

Meditation is one of the five principles of yoga. It an important tool to achieve mental clarity and health. Meditating can be done in various ways and there is an indefinite number of Meditation techniques that can be used for an indefinite number of goals. It does not matter what Meditation technique to choose, the foundation of all techniques is focus and attention.

  • Concentration Techniques – The goal of these exercises is to improve We must learn how to focus in order to bring the endless stream of thoughts to a standstill and to limit thoughts to only those that are relevant for this moment.
  • Insight Meditation – Person becomes more aware of thoughts, emotions, and sensory perception. As distinct from the exercises for clearing the mind, Insight Meditation allows us to welcome all thoughts and physical sensations. We accept sensations and thoughts as they are.
  • Contemplation and Self Research – We see problems less as problems and we can start with the techniques from the third category for self-examination and contemplation.
  • Meditation in Motion, consists of all forms of Meditating in which we are active. We strengthen attention and awareness by focusing on motions.
  • Goal-oriented Meditation can help us to start working on certain goals right away. We can stimulate the curing of diseases or the achieving of goals by means of, to give an example, visualisation exercises.

Principles of Meditation

  • Set aside a special place for Meditation.
  • Choose a time when your mind is free from everyday concerns.
  • Using the same time and place each day, condition the mind to slow down more quickly.
  • Sit with your back, neck, and head in a straight line, facing North or East.
  • Instruct your mind to remain quiet for the duration of your session.
  • Regulate your breathing – start with 5 minutes of deep breathing, then slow it down.
  • Establish a rhythmic breathing pattern – inhaling then exhaling for about three seconds.
  • At first, let your mind wander – it will only grow restless if you force it to concentrate.
  • Now bring the mind to rest on the focal point.
  • Applying your chosen technique, hold your object of concentration.
  • Meditation comes when you reach a state of pure thought, but still retain your awareness of duality.
  • After long practice, duality disappears and Samadhi, the superconscious state, is attained.

Simple Meditation

There is not just one way to meditate. It is up to the person to experience and decide which meditation practice is best. A simple Meditation can apply in daily routine. Set aside 10 to 20 minutes same time each day, if possible. Before breakfast is a good time.

 

 

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