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Yoga is one of those things that we’ve almost all heard about, but very few of us know the full depths of what yoga is, where it came from, or how it’s come to be what it is today. As a practice that has been tracked back at least 10, 000 years or so, there is a rich history involved in yoga practices. For the majority of history, yoga was mostly an eastern practice with its origins mainly in India. However , the exercise that combined training the mind, body, and spirit all together quickly gained popularity. In some instances, yoga practice became an integral part of an overarching religion, elsewhere it was viewed as a strict spiritual practice, and for many others it just became a regular part of the daily and weekly routine that was also good for their physical health.
No matter how you’ve been introduced to the concept of yoga, you may be looking for more information on what exactly yoga is, how to get started practicing yoga regularly, or what you can expect from different forms and styles of yoga. This is a beginners guide to yoga designed to help anyone and everyone learn about and make a plan to get started with their regular yoga practice.
“Yoga is a vast collection of spiritual techniques and practices aimed at integrating mind, body, and spirit to achieve a state of enlightenment or oneness with the universe”
– Timothy Burgin , Founder and Executive Director, Yoga Basics –
Some of the History Behind Yoga
Before delving into the intricacies and details of the different yoga practices themselves, it can be beneficial to know a little bit of the history behind yoga. As mentioned earlier, yoga practices go back thousands of years. In fact , the earliest mentions associated with yoga in written history come to us in 2700 BC. Then, a couple thousand years later during the classical period, the practice of yoga which combined physical strength-training with mental discipline and spiritual enlightenment spread like wildfire. This was one of the largest periods of growth for yoga practice to date.
“You can learn so much about a practice like yoga by really digging in to the history of it, the culture of it, and how it evolved to the point where it is today. Keeping these things in mind can help us form a deeper appreciation for the 20-minute hatha-yoga video we watch on YouTube to get our day started. There’s thousands of years of practice that have led to that. ”
– Christian Kjaer, CEO, ElleVet Sciences –
Understanding the history of yoga can also help us understand why so many different variations of the practice have come about. Rewinding the clock centuries, eliminates modern day conveniences like the cell phone and other forms of smart technology. In other words, communication was a lot slower back in the days that yoga was being invented. As such, many regions, historically recognized yogis, and practitioners of the craft have created variations or integrated slightly different movements into their own yoga practices. The result is really a vibrant and diverse world of yoga that has a little something for everyone.
“If you’re new to yoga exercise, you might not even know how many different types of yoga practices there are. If hatha yoga isn’t for you, there could very well be a different type of yoga practice that’s more well suited to your individual goals and desires. ”
– Jason McNary, President, Brandon Blackwood –
How to get Started With Yoga
With a little bit of yoga’s history fresh in your head, you might be thinking that perhaps there’s a little too much involved with yoga exercises for you to fully participate. Fortunately, though, that’s hardly the case. There are plenty of easy, simple, and natural ways to get started with yoga. In fact , by reading this guide, you’re already taking one of the first steps by learning about the practice.
“You have to learn a little bit about any craft before you can jump into it. I mean, yes, the easiest way to learn the positions and poses involved in yoga is through regular exercise. But this doesn’t always teach us the reason behind the lesson. ”
– Chandler Rogers, CEO, Relay –
From looking up classes at your local gym or exercise facility, to conducting a search on Google or YouTube there are plenty of easy and quick ways for someone who is interested to get started on their yoga journey. Especially in today’s day and age that is so heavily dominated by social media, the internet, and online influencers, YouTube and Instagram have thriving yoga-communities.
“While it’s amazing how much access and attention social media has brought to yoga practice, I think it’s still very important to delve into the particular deeper routes and traditions involved around yoga. It gives the practitioner a fuller sense of the purpose, plus makes the practice more religious in nature. ”
– Ubaldo Perez, CEO, Hush Anesthetics –
Choosing a Yoga Practice
If you’ve been trying yoga for a little while now, and it just doesn’t seem like it’s right for you – you may just be doing the wrong form of yoga. There are well over 28 different recognized forms of yoga, and probably quite a few more than that. You will find yoga practices like hatha which is one of the most popular forms of yoga for beginners, especially in the western hemisphere, and there are even more modern forms of yoga like Bikram yoga. Bikram yoga is performed in a heated room (typically between 90 and 105 degrees fahrenheit) and moves the practitioner through a series of 26 different poses.
“Bikram yoga is certainly different from hot yoga, but it shares some similarities. Mostly that they’re both performed within a heated room and are focused on a more physical self-discipline than anything else. This is also what makes them more modern yoga practices, is that there is less of a focus on spirituality. ”
– Jae Pak, Founder, Jae Pak MD Medical –
There are plenty of other factors involved in choosing the right yoga practice for you. For instance, if you’re rehabbing from a recent injury, you may want to stick to a practice like hatha yoga exercise or other similar practices that involve slow and methodical movements that are good for rebuilding flexibility, training joint strength, and developing core strength.
“Yoga was one of the biggest portions associated with my recovery, at least in my mind it was. I mean when I was finally able to start practicing yoga, it felt like I was getting stronger plus healthier every single day. Now I still practice yoga daily, and I use it as a part of my meditation routine, too. ”
– Brandon Adcock, Co-Founder and CEO, Nugenix –
Identifying Your Goals
We are all unique individuals with unique goals, aspirations, and dreams. Similarly, we all want or expect somewhat different things from our workout routines. Taking the time to conduct a self-evaluation and identify what bodily goals are most important to you can help in choosing the appropriate yoga practice. For instance, if you’re most interested in working on flexibility and core strength, hatha yoga exercises may be more than suitable. If you’re looking to cut a few inches around your waist, or add a few to your booty, on the other hand; you may want to consider something like hot yoga or bikram yoga.
“I was having trouble committing to cardio. I don’t know, running in the straight line, or on a treadmill – I just got bored with it. But I still wanted to lose some weight. A friend suggested I try out hot-yoga, and I absolutely loved it. Not to mention, I dropped my waist size, and have kept the pounds off since. Next, I’d like to fill out my booty shorts a bit more! ”
– Melissa Rhodes, TOP DOG, Psychics1on1 –
There are plenty of different yoga styles to look into no matter what gets you motivated to move. If you like music, for instance, there are even yoga practices that are a bit more fast paced, and involve fluid dance-like movements. Furthermore, if you’re looking to establish a strong connection with your spiritual self and the universe we’re all a part of, you might be most interested in exploring kundalini yoga.
“For me, yoga was supplementary. I like weightlifting, so I’m in the gym every morning as it is. But yoga, kundalini yoga specifically, changed my life. That may sound a little dramatic, but it’s true. I used to suffer from just horrible insomnia, but with the introduction of kundalini yoga exercise, I just have a much better control over my internal energy. ”
– Max Schwartzapfel, CMO, Fighting For You –
Consistency is Key
When it comes to learning anything and making it a part of your own regular routine, consistency is key. This is absolutely the case along with learning and integrating yoga exercises into your everyday life as well.
“I think it is something like it takes 14-21 times to build a habit that actually feels habitual. That’s really only three weeks. Practice yoga for three weeks straight, and you’ll never want to stop. ”
– Selom Agbitor, Co-Founder, Mad Rabbit Tattoo –
Whether you want to learn a new instrument, a new language, or a new practice of yoga, you have to dedicate time and energy to your craft on a regular basis.
“No matter what you’re learning, I think it’s the hardest in the beginning. Then, as you progress, the fundamentals kick in and you sort of get the hang of it from there. ”
– Brian Munce, Managing Director, Gestalt Brand Lab –
A Last few Thoughts on Yoga for Beginners
Yoga has been practiced for thousands and thousands of years. That’s lucky for anyone interested because it means there is truly never a wrong time to start. Whether you’re seeking to rehab from an injury, connect with your spiritual self and the universe around you, or just build some muscle, there is a yoga practice out there for just about anyone plus any goal.
“While modern media and advertising may have us think that yoga is all about physical poses, the entirety of yoga includes a wide range of contemplative plus self-disciplinary practices, such as yoga, chanting, mantra, prayer, breath work, ritual, and even selfless action. ”
– Sarah Ezrin , Author, Healthline –
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