In our Meditation for Beginners blog post, we discussed the rise of mindfulness techniques in the upcoming century. The practice of meditation was the second-most popular technique, behind only yoga. Yoga, meaning to unite in Sanskrit, prioritizes mental, spiritual, and physical discipline. Through these disciplines, people channel mindfulness as a way to discover sources of suffering and improve them. Today, we’ll take a look at yoga, its history, its benefits, and the ways you can get started with it.
When was Yoga created?
Yoga dates back to 10,000 years, developed first by civilizations in Northern India. At first, it wasn’t a practice at all, but a collection of literature. Then, as years passed, people began to use the teachings in more physical forms. The version of yoga as we know it, can date back to the early 1900s - most notably when Indra Devi opened her yoga studio in Hollywood. Since then, several yoga studios and schools have opened throughout the world, all containing a variety of teachings and techniques.
What are the health benefits of yoga?
Like the majority of mindfulness techniques, yoga has the ability to benefit your mind and your body. According to osteopathic medicine, the physical benefits of yoga can help lower blood pressure and insomnia through its incorporated relaxation techniques. Going through the basic movements will allow you to become mindful. Some other physical benefits include increasing your flexibility, improving muscle strength, and even reducing your weight. After all, yoga is another form of exercise.
The breathing techniques and focus on mental calmness is another form of meditation. Through this, you can reduce several areas of stress. Regular practice can “recenter” the mind, allowing you to gain a better awareness of your reality and body. These, then, help with de-stressing and emotional stability.
Yoga for Beginners
As we discussed last week, you don’t need a special gym or equipment to start doing yoga. In fact, all you need to do to start is silence and an open space to move freely. There are several videos, books, and internet articles available to teach all about its principals. Here are some common yoga poses that you can start exploring:
Warrior Pose - Begin with your feet spread apart. With one foot still on the floor, bend your knee so that you're leaning in one direction. Stay there for 30 seconds, straighten your knees, and then switch directions.
Downward Facing Dog - This pose requires you start on all fours. Press down on your front hand as you lift your hips up. Let your head hang loosely without any tension on your neck. Though this sounds simple, it might take a lot of effort at first. Make sure to keep practicing and breathing.
Crescent Lunge - Begin with the Downward Dog facing pose, then slowly bend your front knee. Make sure it’s aligned above your front foot, then straighten your back leg. Once you’re in this position, press your hips forward and raise your hands above your head.
Cobra Pose - Though this is an easier technique, the cobra pose is an intense backbend that could be injurious if not properly done. To do it correctly, lie down on your stomach and your legs straight behind you. Using your abdominals, lift yourself up. To make sure you’re staying safe, focus on your upper-back muscles and opening up your chest.
Child’s Pose - This is a great way to end any work out. All you have to do is sit on your knees and rest your head on the floor in front of you with your arms spread out.
As you do yoga, remember the main principles: breathing, relaxation, and exercise. As a form of mindfulness and a workout, yoga has the potential to create several benefits your mental and physical health.