Yoga is often considered intimidating for beginners. When the media often portrays yoga as advanced, supple poses and a slender, supple body, it’s no surprise that many people are hesitant to start a yoga practice. However, the truth is yoga is for everyone. It’s not just “pretzel legs” or splits. It’s an accessible practice that goes beyond physical posture, including the way a yogi sees the world around him. It’s a thousands-year-old spiritual practice that’s incredibly complex, but there’s always a way for beginners. The following articles will introduce basic yoga basics for beginners who are interested in yoga but might be a little intimidated.
The most common way to start yoga is through physical practice. This can be done at home through videos or articles, in the gym or yoga studio. Most gyms or studios will provide mats, so beginners only need to bring their body and comfortable exercise clothes. Yoga classes teach a series of asanas, or poses, in Sanskrit. These body positions are related to breathing. The yogi breathes and assumes a series of poses, culminating in a traditional savasana session lying on his back. In Western “pop culture” styles of yoga, the practice often ends there.
Without proper breathing, yoga poses are tantamount to gymnastics. Rachel Shaffer
However, yoga is more than its poses or asanas. Yoga has a rich history and philosophy dating back 5,000 years to India. In true traditional yoga, poses are only a small part of the larger yoga puzzle. Meditation, breathing, sensory deprivation, etc. are also appreciated. In order to really understand the “basics” of yoga, it’s important to delve into all of these areas.
What is yoga?
what is yoga
Yoga is a Sanskrit word that can be translated as “union” or “yoke”. This refers to the union of mind, body and spirit. It also refers to the union between all living beings and the universe. Thus, Yoga teaches that God and Self are one. It is this premise that guides all other aspects of yoga.
The sage Patanjali taught that there are eight branches of yoga, of which asanas are only one. Thus, yoga is a holistic practice that goes beyond the mat and the body. It is not a religion, but a way of seeing the world and connecting with oneself.
history of yoga
history of yoga
Yoga can be traced back to the Vedas, an ancient Indian text dating back 5,000 years. The Vedas are the first known texts on yoga, which is described as union with God. This marked the beginning of the pre-classical age of yoga, when other important texts such as the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita were recorded. The texts are violent, discussing ritual rituals and epic battles – nothing like yoga’s modern reputation. The idea of yoga developed in the period of classical yoga, when Patanjali created his Yoga Sutras and the Eightfold Path of Yoga. In creating scriptures that provide philosophical guidance for yogis, the classical period links the original ancient texts with more internal explanations of the sacrifices required for yoga. Yoga was introduced to the West during the post-classical yoga period that began in the early 19th century or the modern period. Saints such as Shivapuri Baba, Swami Vivekananda, Yogananda and BKS Iyengar have done this. The physical practice of yoga, known as the Hatha style of yoga, was emphasized and promoted in Hollywood by yogis such as Indra Rodvi during this period. Preclassical and classical texts are certainly still being studied in modern times and form the backbone of yoga philosophy. However, the practice of yoga today is nothing like it was in India 5,000 years ago.
Eight limbs of yoga
Eight limbs of yoga
As mentioned earlier, Patanjali was the central figure in the period of classical yoga, and his teachings had a profound impact on all subsequent yogas. Patanjali is best known for authoring the Yoga Sutras, a collection of scriptures (short and clear aphorisms) that teach the yogic mind and way of life. The Yoga Sutras are still the foundational text still taught in most yoga teacher training courses. In Buddhist scriptures, Patanjali describes yoga as the “Eightfold Path”. Yoga Eight Limbs demonstrates that yoga is a truly expansive and spiritual practice that differs from exercise programs in its holistic approach. The eight limbs of yoga include:
Yama: The yamas are the moral constraints that a yogi must abide by in order to live in peace with the universe. There are five precepts including Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (self-discipline) and Aparigraha (non-attachment).
Niyama: Niyamas is the second link, which is ethical observation. They are more introverted than yamas, but are an extension of the base of yamas. The Niyamas include Saucha (purity), Santosha (satisfaction), Tapas (discipline), Savdhyaya (self-study) and Ishvara Pranidhana (devotion).
Asanas: Asanas are yoga poses. They are the most famous limbs in yoga, especially in the West, and they define most yoga practices. The word asana actually means “to sit”. A yogi practices asanas so that he can “sit” with and overcome all mental, emotional, spiritual and physical distractions.
Pranayama: The fourth branch of yoga, pranayama, is concerned with breathing exercises. Breathing is an integral part of yoga, and every pose is paired with an inhale or exhale. There are specific pranayama techniques such as Ujjayi, Nadhi Shonana etc. which invoke Partic