A few years back, I was an insecure teenager that just wanted to find some ways to lose weight. I stumbled upon yoga because one of my friends recommended it to me. To be honest, it seems like a less intimidating form of fitness as compared to other fitness classes such as HIIT, boxing classes, and even spin classes. So, I decided to then give yoga a try.
Of course, I was scared as I was a beginner and did not know what to expect in a yoga class. Here are some tips that I learned through my yoga journey, which could help beginners to feel more confident, comfortable, and prepared when entering a yoga studio for the first time.
- Contrary to popular belief, You do not need to have a certain level of flexibility to try yoga! I know many people who are afraid to try yoga because they are not flexible. In fact, yoga helps you to become more present and less stressed, which in turn helps your body to relax and eventually, deepening into each posture and improving your flexibility. Remember, flexibility is not a prerequisite but a result of yoga.
- You will not nail every pose on your first try! Enter your first class with an open mind and willingness to try new things. When you are in a class with other students, don’t feel bad or discouraged that you are not able to do what everyone else is doing. Not everyone is a beginner but they all started from the beginning, just like you! Do your practice and all is coming.
- Breathe…. A big part of yoga is the breathing exercises, also known as the pranayama, and it is important to learn the awareness of breath. The breathing exercises encourage a more focused way of breathing, which is something you might not do consciously every day. Regulate the breathing and thereby control the mind
Last but not least, a small step forward is still a step forward. Go ahead and begin your yoga journey!
During either the beginning or end of each yoga class, everyone is usually invited to join the teacher in chanting ‘om’. What is the meaning behind ‘om’ and why do we have to chant it? Initially, I thought it has something to do with religion and it felt a little strange for me. However, I soon learned that there is an interesting meaning and significance behind the sound ‘om’.
‘Om’, which should be technically spelled as ‘Aum’, is a mantra and sacred sound that is traditionally repeating at the beginning or the end of a yoga practice. It is a Sanskrit word that translates to supreme and it is said to be the sound of the universe. By chanting it, it symbolically and physically allows us to be one with the sound and acknowledge our connection to everything in the universe.
Although it sounds like one sound, ‘aum’ is made up of four sounds: ahh, ohh, mmm, and merging mmm into silence.
In yoga practice, chanting this with a group of people serves to unify the group and create a sense of community. The rhythmic vibrations are also said to have a calming effect on the body and the nervous system, which is beneficial in helping to lower blood pressure. Chanting ‘aum’ is a way to open and close a yoga practice, to designate it as a special time where we care for ourselves.
“Om is the primordial throb of the universe. It is the sound form of Atma (Consciousness).” ~ Maitri Upandishad
You have heard of karma, and you have heard of yoga. But have you heard of karma yoga before?
Karma yoga, which is one of the four paths of yoga, is the yoga of action. This means that it is all about purifying your heart by learning to be selfless in the service of others. Through karma yoga, we learn kindness and compassion without an expectation of gain.
There are four benefits to karma yoga: helps assimilate self-knowledge, neutralized binding vasanas, removes anxiety, reduce tamasic karmas. However, in today’s society, everything is built on results and outcomes, which makes it challenging to let go and act with no expectation of results of any kind. It may be difficult to practice karma yoga in your life but here are some ways to embrace karma yoga in your life by starting small.
- Start with yourself: Be kind to ourselves and taking care of ourselves is not selfish but rather important. If you can’t take care of yourself, you will be be healthy or peaceful enough to help other
- Be genuine: Be authentic. Yes, I know it is easier said than done. By living our true self and not faking according to society standards, we are raising the bar of the collective world consciousness.
- Practice compassion: On every other day, we come across people who are rude for no reasons or just constantly triggered by everything. Rather than engaging in a fight with them, try to practice some compassion by not reacting or intentionally fuelling their frustration. A smile can make a huge difference so show them your biggest smile instead!
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others – Mahatma Gandhi
Admit it! At some point in your life, I’m sure you will hear that “yoga is just for women”. You will be surprised to know that most of its history, yoga was practiced almost exclusively by men. In fact, yoga has been demonstrated to have plenty of benefits for everyone. From improving respiration, to reducing stress level, to developing your strength and flexibility, yoga can help in a lot of ways that you might not realize.
Here are 2 simple poses that are suitable both men and women to try:
- Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1)
Source from: https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/warrior-i-pose
- Strengthens arms, legs and shoulder
- Opens chest and lungs which contributes to healthy respiration
- Improves stability and balance of the body
- Reduces anxiety, depression and stress from daily activities
- Uttanasana (Forward Fold)
Source from: https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/standing-forward-bend
- Stretches the calves and strengthens the knees and thighs
- Relieving knots in the back and neck
- Help keeps blood pressure level in check
- Reduces anxiety and stress
A fun fact for you: Do you know that Robert Downey Jr. does yoga too? That’s right, our Iron Man managed to kick his drug addiction with the help of yoga, meditation and therapy.