Yoga For Beginners Guide
Yoga is a practice which is over 5000 years old and is practiced by a wide range of people of all ages and from all cultures. It has continued to grow through the years and flourish to meet the needs of every individual. In today’s modern yoga practice there are several different forms or styles of yoga although most of the styles have common bonds while having there own unique features.
When most people think about yoga and refer to practicing yoga this is usually the form they practice, it is a system of yoga that dates back to the 15th century in India. It is the most popular form of yoga and one from which several other forms have originated, by practicing Hatha yoga on a daily basis it is said that you will achieve harmony and peace within the body and mind.
Kundalini yoga focuses on awakening energy which is sometimes called Muladhara chakra which is found at the base of our spine. Kundalini yoga is thought to be one of the most powerful forms of yoga in the present day, energy in the spine is said to take on the form of a tightly coiled snake at the base of the spine which when awakened springs to life, moving up the spine to the brain. When this occurs it is said to create a sublime state of ecstasy and awareness.
Bikram yoga is a series of yoga poses which are accompanied by breathing exercises known as the breath of fire. It is called the breath of fire because heat is used when practicing the yoga poses, heat is thought to help in several ways, by sweating which allows for quicker release of toxins from the body and reducing the risk of injury.
Ashtanga yoga is more for those who require a strenuous workout for it includes several challenging poses, Ashtanga yoga is also called the eight limbs yoga and this refers to purification being composed of eight spiritual practices.
Power yoga is the western equivalent to Ashtanga yoga it consists of vigorous, demanding and challenging sets of poses which help you to connect to the power within the body. This type of yoga helps also to increase the body’s flexibility and self discipline.
The name of this type of yoga means precision in alignment and the poses require great mobility of the spine.
It is thought that by practicing yoga without wearing any clothing brings you closer to nature and gives you the ability to feel free without the restrictions clothing brings.
Most Popular Types of Yoga
Hatha Yoga Guide
The words Hatha yoga literally means the sun and moon, so practicing Hatha yoga means bringing together two forces of opposites. Hatha yoga is sometimes also described as forceful yoga; this is because Hatha yoga poses are the most strenuous of all yoga poses and it is also one of the most well known forms of yoga in the western world.
Hatha yoga is one of four types of Tantra yoga; it consists of concentrating on the poses and control of the breath. The main objective in practicing Hatha yoga is to remove obstacles in your path and have a clear, fresh, sharp mind which is fully focused on your inner being.
The poses or Asana in Hatha yoga
The poses in Hatha yoga have two essential objectives, the first being to practice any form of meditation a person has to be perfectly comfortable and at ease for long periods of time and have correct posture. The more postures a person can learn the better basis they will have for developing meditation techniques.
The second objective of the postures in Hatha yoga is to bring energy and health to the body, when Hatha yoga is performed regularly it is said that the path of Hatha yoga is opened automatically to be followed further, while mastering the Hatha yoga postures themselves has no objective other than to strengthen the will power and concentration.
Breathing postures in Hatha yoga
In performing Hatha yoga it is essential that you are able to master the breathing patterns or Pranayama, yoga masters believe that if you can master the breath then mastering the mind is within reach. It is through breathing exercises that the flow or prana or vital life throughout the body is regulated.
This energy is needed the deeper you get into practicing yoga with the ultimate goal being to reach the state of Samadhi, which is a feeling of total peace within yourself. The special breathing techniques in Hatha yoga consists of the flow of the breath being alternated through both nostrils, this is thought to balance the two hemispheres of the brain, which is the main objective of Pranayama.
The breathing exercises in Hatha yoga is said to activate the Kundalini energy which is dormant “spiritual energy” within the body. Hatha yoga is an excellent way to begin practicing yoga for it is an excellent way to clear the mind and bring focus back to your life; it is a form that is particularly helpful for those suffering from stress and anxiety.
Tantra Yoga Guide
Tantra yoga draws on the sciences of astrology, numerology, physics, chemistry, mathematics and geometry and instead of keeping different areas of human knowledge apart it draws them together.
What Is Tantra Yoga?
The aim of Tantra yoga is to build and expand on all states of consciousness; this state can be our dreams, sleep or waking state. Years of thinking about our life and our being the wrong way have left deep seated beliefs so it is probably easier if we think of our body and mind as a computer that needs wiping clean and re installing.
Our lives are predicted in a way by the place we were born and the circumstances of our upbringing and if there are no problems in our life and we are happy then we will see no need for change. However if we start having difficulties in life or problems then we often feel a need for change, Tantra yoga can help us to make that change.
It teaches us to identify various factors which influence our thoughts and feelings and to see obstacles which may stand in our way from our ignorance and selfishness. By practising Tanta yoga we can refine our thoughts and feelings and learn how to create harmony and order within ourselves.
Several forms of yoga are based on the fact of opposites attract just as the universe is a mad up of two opposites, the static and the dynamic principle. Tantra yogic believes that as long as the phenomenal world exists it is the universal mother who is the creator, preserver and destroyer, therefore in Tantra yoga she is worshipped as divine.
Tantra yoga meditation
Tantric meditation is all about sitting calmly and quietly and focusing on purifying the heart and mind of all wayward thoughts and desires, during the meditation you should try and visualise the life force leaving the body through the forehead and a body of light and energy forming three feet away from you.
The practitioner should visualise the light expanding until is of human size, love and devotion are then directed at this body of light which represent the practitioners soul. This part of the Tantra meditation will usually take 15 to 20 minutes then the light and energy is invited to return back through the forehead and down through the body to the base of the spine.
It is said that after practising Tantra yoga for many years a great sense of renewal can be felt through the meditation alone, with the Tantric becoming increasingly aware that the life force within a person is a truly divine gift from the Lord.
Yoga & Martial Arts
Yoga just like martial arts takes discipline and together they compliment each other, both disciplines teach us that an over inflated ego brings us nothing but trouble and causes problems in life and they teach us respect and humility of ourselves and others. A true practitioner of martial arts is just like a well established yogi, they both carry love for fellow man, respect and kindness and both disciplines teach us:
- Mental and physical practice to teach us more about ourselves.
- Give us a way to self reflect and meditate.
- Each discipline brings opposite forces together in harmony.
The sports and fitness industry and martial arts experts in particular have begun to recognise the therapeutic values that yoga has to offer, the yoga poses are now being used as additional training, in many sports, helping in the prevention of problems and also in the recovery from sports related problems.
Years of intense training of any sport and particularly martial arts can have a toll on the body, often knees can be damaged or are prone to problems, practicing the yoga poses as warm up has been proven to lessen this. Most people who train in martial arts will favour one side of the body more than the other, this is usually the stronger side for example a right handed person will favour the right side.
An example of how the body can come out of alignment by favouring a particular side is a person who prefers to kick with their right leg will have stronger hips muscles on that side but they will also pull more on the lower back throwing the whole pelvic area out of balance. It was found that when the same person does yoga routinely the strength on the right side remains but the pelvic area is also brought back to a balanced state.
Yoga poses are ideal for helping develop the strength and flexibility that is needed when training in martial arts and these poses can be incorporated into the martial arts training. By including yoga in their training martial arts experts have found that they quickly become more focused, calmer, stronger and more flexible, they also found that they were more proficient in martial arts for including the yoga poses in their training.
Many martial arts experts found that after years of intense and vigorous training and competitions led to chronic injuries of the neck, shoulders, hips, lower back and knees.
Studies proved however that yoga undertaken on a regular basis and practiced before the martial arts routine helped to alleviate those conditions. Whatever form of martial arts that you practice, practicing the yoga poses and breathing beforehand can benefit you greatly both in performance and health wise.