A guide to yoga for beginners

If we go back to my previous post, I talk about balance. If you have come from a background of mainly high-intensity, high-power exercise, then you may find the challenge in yoga comes from learning to relax and switch off.  Excessive tension in the muscles, aggressive pulling yourself into the positions will ultimately hinder your progression in yogic practice.

For me, Yoga has been a revelation. A yoga session is the one time when I try to “not try”!  That is not as easy as it may sound.  Many of the poses in yoga require immense core strength, coupled with flexibility and a sense of awareness (knowing your body positions).  A strong person may be able to muscle their way into positions, but I guarantee they won’t maintain a controlled breath and the ability to seamlessly flow, free of tension, as demonstrated by the top yogis.

Yoga has not been matched by any other form of exercise when it comes to relaxation and stress relief.  If (and it is a big if), you can switch off from the brain whirring away from the day’s perils and instead focus on your breathe. If you can bring about an awareness of how your body feels and instead of aggressively fighting your body, use time, gravity, and the weight of limbs, to guide your session, then 60-90 minutes later you will finish the session feeling quite amazing.

Remember not to remember! You have to let your thoughts pass on.

If, like me, you find yourself constantly repeating a checklist of “to-do’s” in your head, fearing that your world will fall apart if the list isn’t actioned then you will be pleasantly surprised by the consequences of parking those thoughts.

Yoga or any form of meditation for that matter will allow you brain to re-prioritise and filter the rubbish.  Just trust your mind to look after you.  Focus on the session.  After all, that constant check-list repetition would have ensured those thoughts stored in your brain’s hard drive by now. If they matter, you will remember them.  So stop trying and just enjoy the session.

What if you can’t? What if during the yoga class your mind continues to whirr and those thoughts lay heavier on your mind?

In these scenarios you have a couple of options, either: –

A) You quietly get up and leave the session (this could well happen. I know, I’ve done it. Sometimes as a beginner yogi, you will experience a high level of frustration where your mind can’t focus on the task at hand.  The symptoms of this may be visible in you demonstrating a more aggressive style of yoga.  If this happens, sometimes the best thing is to surrender your effort.  Tomorrow is another day, or you pre-empt your frustration and mind dump pre-session. Write down everything that is going through your mind.

B) As your yogic prowess improves, you will increase your awareness and become more conditioned to how to cope with highly stressed situations. As you learn to master your breath and the art of centring you will find your general demeanour in all walks of life (including the workplace) is slightly calmer, perhaps more thoughtful.

Top tips to switch off and get ‘in-the-moment.’

  1. Focus on what’s right in front of you.

Or around you. Or on you. Use your senses. Just look at what’s right in front of you right now. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel the fabric of your clothes and focus on how they feel.

  1. Focus on your breathing.

Take a couple of dozen belly breaths and just focus your mind on your inhaling and exhaling, this will align you with the present moment once again.

  1. Focus on your inner body.

This is a bit similar to focusing on your breathing. In both examples, you focus on what’s inside you rather than the outside.  Start with a body scan.  If you are laying down like a corpse, start at your toes, how do they feel?  Are they tingly?!

  1. Pick up the vibe from other people present.

You are who you surround yourself with. That is not to say that two hours a week will make you a full blown yogi, but it will mean that if you allow yourself to you can be as calm as them when in their presence!

  1. Shut your eyes

Almost like the off switch to all that visual pollution.

If this blog has done enough to convince you to try a yoga session then, I’d love to know how you get on.  Just promise yourself to let go and focus!

Oh and perhaps don’t try a ‘Hot Power’ session if you’ve never been before!  40-degree heat and back bends = Light headed!

Yoga can help improve the productiveness or your work and bring balance to your life.

Enjoy!

 

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