A Beginner’s guide to Yoga! What I wished I knew.

Dear Amelia,

Remember, yoga is not about achieving the poses. What we should aim for is alignment – once you are in the right posture and alignment, with practice, the pose will come naturally. So if you want to tell if a yoga teacher is good or not, ask him/her how you can improve on your alignment, and see if it works!

Yoga also comprises of breathing (pranayama) and meditation (dyana) practices – not just the physical classes! In fact, Master Sree shared that if you were to tell people in India that you are doing yoga, they would laugh at you, because, that’s everything under the sun – they wouldn’t know what you’re talking about!

These are some tips on how you can better prepare for yoga pre and post-practice, to get the maximum benefits!

Types of Yoga (physical practices)

You were pretty confused about the sanskrit names so here’s a quick overview to give you a brief understanding of the different types of yoga classes. These are the more popular yoga classes in Singapore.

  • Hatha yoga – these are slower, you may need to hold physical postures for a period. It’s quite easy, until you go for the advanced level classes where they make you hold a pose for. way. too. long. haha.
  • Ashtanga yoga – these are faster, following a fixed sequence of poses, more physically demanding. There are about 72 poses in 75 minutes, in fact. Ashtanga means 8-limb poses, meaning poses that require 8-limbs. So you can imagine…
  • Yin Yang – these are deep stretches, holding for longer periods. Super chill. Used to be my favourite, till my recent appreciation for Ashtanga 🙂

There is also hot yoga, sometimes called bikram yoga, but given our warm climate in Singapore, this could cause more dehydration and a higher risk of injury. Aerial yoga is also interesting to check out if you are keen on deep stretches!

Before the class

Please get sufficient sleep, at least 6-7 hours, as it is quite important in order to prepare the body to be ready for exercise. Also do take note of the following conditions e.g.

  • If you are having mensuration, you can still do yoga! However, if you’re feeling tired or having cramps, you are advised to avoid more demanding poses like headstand – or don’t hold it for too long as you may be really exhausted after.
  • Do take note of the injuries that you have, and share with the yoga teacher when they ask. I have scoliosis and tight plantar (read more here) so there’s usually tightness on my right side.

After the class

You may be tempted to eat immediately after your practice. But this often causes food coma and exhaustion, and it’s actually better to eat 1-hour after your practice. This is because, during yoga practice, your blood is rushing toward your muscles to supply them with oxygen. If you eat immediately, blood would also need to be directed to your stomach to assist with digestion. As a result, your body may crash due to exhaustion attending to both the stomach and muscles. Hence, to minimise exhaustion and optimise your body, allow 40 mins to cool down before eating your next meal. This really worked for me and I stopped crashing after my meals! In fact, you will feel more energised!

A second tip is to eat pranic or sattvic food (see below) – essentially fresh/cooked vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. This helps to keep us grounded and centered – food does affect our mood too!

The last tip is to eat based on what your body needs than what is given – usually 70% full is sufficient for me. This helps to prevent too much blood from rushing into the stomach, which is what causes food coma. As we better estimate the portions we eat, we can also reduce food waste and improve our energy!

Cheers and enjoy the process,

Amelia Lim