If you’ve done your “downward dog” yoga pose today, you’re probably feeling more relaxed. Regardless of your level of yoga expertise, if you’re practicing regularly, you can feel better from head to toe. Yoga offers physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages. Also, if you’re going through an illness, recovering from surgery or living with a chronic condition, yoga can become an integral part of your treatment and potentially hasten healing.
- Yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility. Slow movements and deep breathing increase blood flow and warm up muscles, while holding a pose can build strength.
- Yoga helps with back pain relief. Yoga is as good as basic stretching for easing pain and improving mobility in people with lower back pain. The American College of Physicians recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain.
- Yoga can ease arthritis symptoms. Gentle yoga has been shown to ease some of the discomfort of tender, swollen joints for people with arthritis.
- Yoga benefits heart health. Regular yoga practice may reduce levels of stress and body-wide inflammation contributing to healthier hearts. Several of the factors contributing to heart disease, including high blood pressure and excess weight, can also be addressed through yoga.
- Yoga relaxes you, to help you sleep better. Research shows that a consistent bedtime yoga routine can help you get in the right mindset and prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Yoga can mean more energy and brighter moods. You may feel increased mental and physical energy, a boost in alertness and enthusiasm, and fewer negative feelings after getting into a routine of practicing yoga.
- Yoga helps you manage stress. According to the National Institutes of Health, scientific evidence shows that yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss and quality sleep.
The best way to learn yoga is by doing it, but if you’re nervous about attending a class, don’t shy away from doing a little studying before you attend. Consider the following.
Types of Yoga
Classes come in a variety of yoga styles, so it is a good idea to read the class descriptions at your local yoga studios to find a class that is right for you. Common types include:
– Hatha yoga classes tend to be good for beginners because they’re slow moving.
–Vinyasa, Ashtanga and power yoga classes can be more challenging, depending on the level of instruction.
–Iyengar has a strong focus on proper alignment, and often uses props to help students perfect their form.
–Hot yoga is yoga practiced in a hot environment- many studios reach 104 degrees F. Many people enjoy doing yoga in the heat, but people who are sensitive to heat or have certain medical conditions may find hot yoga uncomfortable.
–Kundalini yoga is the term for “a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine”. In Kundalini yoga, practitioners use breathing exercises, physical postures, chanting and meditation to unlock this energy. It has been known to support healing addictions.
The good news is that, even if you’re just starting out, most yoga poses you’ll come across are totally attainable for everybody or can be modified to make them easier. You don’t even need to go to a yoga studio, you can try these poses in the comfort of your own home. Here are some of the top beginner yoga poses:
- Cat Cow Pose- Start on all fours with wrists directly under shoulders and knees below hips. For cat, exhale while arching back and dropping head and tailbone toward mat. Then on the inhale while arching back, tilting tailbone and chin toward ceiling, and dropping tailbone toward floor to come into cow pose.
- Downward-Facing Dog- Start in a plank position. Lift hips up and back, sinking heels toward floor, until body forms an upside down “V” shape. Press shoulders away from ears and relax neck. Spread fingers wide on mat, with palms pressed against the floor.
- Upward-Facing Dog- Start lying on mat with legs extended straight behind body, front of legs resting on floor, and upper body propped up in air by pressing palms down into mat. Extend arms to straight and lift thighs and shins off of floor.
- Child’s Pose- Start in a kneeling position, with shins flat on the ground, butt on heels, knees slightly wider than torso, and hands in lap. Walk arms forward to straight on floor, lower stomach down on to thighs, and rest forehead on the floor.
- Forward Fold- Start standing in mountain pose (standing straight up). Fold forward at waist and place palms on mat in front of feet (bend knees as much as necessary to make this happen).
Yoga is one of those activities you can do pretty much anywhere, and that’s especially true when you have an app on your smartphone. To help you find the right yoga app for your needs, take a look at the following 10 apps.
- Daily Yoga
- Yoga Studio
- Down Dog
- Asana Rebel
- DDP Yoga
- Yoga- Track Yoga
- Yoga Daily Fitness
- Yoga for Beginners