Ways to Teach Yourself Yoga

yoga1More than 20 million Americans practice yoga. As a form of physical fitness, yoga helps increase strength and flexibility. However, the mind also benefits from a consistent yoga routine, as yoga’s emphasis on cleansing breaths help center the mind to encourage stress relief and relaxation. Everyone can practice and benefit from yoga, including children and senior citizens. Be mindful of individual limitations. If any health problems plague the body, discuss yoga with a doctor before engaging in practice.

Yoga may be practiced in studio or at home with or without professional instruction.yoga2Different yoga sequences or routines vary in time limitations, but don’t feel the need to monitor the clock.

Individuals interested in trying yoga for the first time and practicing at home can find numerous resources to aid them in the quest for choosing the right yoga wellness routine. For those wanting the aid of a professional instructor, numerous yogis offer guided instruction online. Some require a subscription or a fee, while other videos are free. Those who feel comfortable with guided self-instruction can consult yoga sequences that have been developed by professional instructors. These sequences may vary in difficulty, so sequences should be researched to find one best suited to ability and comfort level.

Practicing yoga at home requires space and a quiet calm atmosphere. Clear away clutter. If practicing on hardwood or tile floors, use a yoga mat. Always practice in bare feet to ensure proper foot grip during postures. The body must be able to move freely. Creating a routine at home should begin with basic yoga postures. Beginners and those new to the foundations of yoga should gently ease the body into postures. Basic poses to try include Upward-Facing Dog, the Half-Moon poses, the Half-Boat Pose and the Bridge Pose.

Once beginner poses have been mastered, move on to discover and try intermediate poses. Ideally, all postures should flow from one to the next. Never push the body during times of injury and don’t push through pain. If a pose feels too difficult, move on to something a bit more basic. Yoga practice should center the mind through breathing. Without the cleansing breath that controls the mind, the body would not be able to ease into the difficult contortions of yoga. The breath overcomes the objections of the mind. Remember to focus on deep cleansing breaths. Always inhale through the nose and exhale the breath through the mouth.

More difficult and advanced yoga postures should ideally be taught by a professional instructor. Moving and positioning the body into the correct form requires skill when yoga3attempting more advanced poses. Some forms of yoga—like Ashtanga—require years of dedicated practice before attempting advanced sequences of postures. Beginners may also choose postures that focus on strengthening certain body areas. A strong core is essential to correctly maintain and contort the body during certain postures, so many yoga sequences help strengthen the core and tighten the abdominal muscles.

Choose an at-home yoga routine that suits physical needs and individual ability. Online professional instructors can provide instruction for beginners or postures can be researched for individualized practice. Regardless, yoga should provide an exhilarating break from stress by strengthening the bo )dy, quieting the mind and centering the soul.

By Ivan Serrano–  Ivan Serrano is a writer from San Jose, California, specializing in technology. He is a graduate of San Francisco State University with a double major in English (Creative Writing, Journalism and Photojournalism).