Published on January 1st, 2016 | by Catherine Tingey0
YOGA FOR COMPLETE BEGINNERS
YOGA FOR COMPLETE BEGINNERS
A lot of my clients are in their 40s, 50s and 60s and looking to make a major change in their lives. Some are recovering from injuries, others simply want to regain the flexibility, strength and sense of vitality they associate with their youth. I totally can identify with these goals. When I turned 40, little did I know that the next 2 years would be a ride through intractable back pain, a car accident, wheelchairs and a shoulder impingement.
But the silver lining is that injuries are simply grist for the mill of learning your way around the body. They’re awful and sidelining, but the learning process of recovery will make you grateful for how miraculous your body can heal itself, and will make you more mindful going forward.
I thought I’d kick off 2016 with a few articles on HOW TO GET STARTED, and then some specific requests I’ve received like, YOGA FOR GOLF, and YOGA FOR SLEEP.
Of course, I always recommend starting one-on-one privately, or semi-privately with a certified yoga instructor. A passionate and knowledgeable instructor can ignite the learning process, and really cement the practice for new students.
Barring that, there are some good YouTube videos (Yoga with Adriene) that are accessible, safe and well-sequenced to try at home.
There are 3 BASIC CONCEPTS that every beginner should know.
CONCEPT 1 – EASY YOGA BREATH
The predominant type of breath we use in yoga is called UJJAYI (ooo-jai-eee) breath, also called Ocean-Sounding Breath, or Victorious Breath.
Relax your jaw and take a big inhale through your nose. Exhale through your nose. The breath should be audible, to you and your neighbor, and sounds a little like a Darth Vader breath, or when someone is in a deep sleep beside you.
Our goal is to keep this breath easy, relaxed and even through each posture.
CONCEPT 2 – EFFORT & EASE
In every yoga posture there is a duality between effort and ease, activation and relaxation. That means there are parts of the body that will be active, and other parts that should be softening.
We are striving for this sweet spot between the two where the body is ENGAGED, but without creating EXCESS TENSION. Warning: can be elusive;)
CONCEPT 3 – USING BREATH AS A TOOL
This is the union of Concepts 1 + 2.
You know you are working too hard if your easy, even breath is interrupted. That’s a sign to back out of the pose, ease up, and find more relaxation, or ease in the posture.
Remember that the breath is your guide. It will tell you when to go deeper into a pose, and when to lighten up. If you place your attention on your breath and practice mindfully, there is very little chance for injury.
As always, if you are curious about learning the basics in safe and thorough way, consider hiring a Private Yoga Instructor. If you are not in the LA area and would like to work privately, contact a reputable studio in your area for a referral. A solid instructor should be able to teach you the basics in 20 sessions and get you a very competent ‘Advanced Beginner’ status which would allow you to take most yoga classes safely and confidently.
Happy Breathing in 2016!