What Is Yoga? What Are Best Yoga Poses and Asanas for Beginners?

Yoga[1] is the go-to method for holistic curing of a significant variety of disease and conditions. Yoga is the unification of soul and the body. With a modern spin to this age-old practice, yoga has now become a favorite tradition for the current generation. Yoga comprises of many physical positions or Yoga Poses, breathing techniques, and meditation approaches. It has roots in ancient India. Yoga has now got recognition all over the world has made a name for itself. On the 21st of June, we celebrate “International Yoga Day,” all over the globe.

WHAT IS YOGA?

Yoga has been around for a long time. Its root is from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” which we can roughly translate to “harness or yoke” in English which we can link with joining of the soul and the physical body together . Yoga has a vibrant and succulent history spanning over 2500 years.

HISTORY

The accurate history of yoga might be a debatable topic since there are no actual written records available. There are not sufficient shreds of evidence pointing to the person who invented it or the period. However, a rough idea puts the place of origin of yoga as India. People proficient in yoga are known as yogis. The general idea is that these yogis over the course of time passed down various disciplines of yoga to their disciples.  Schools started teaching yoga as well.

Patanjali is to an extent considered as a significant contributor in this field. He has been instrumental in documenting perhaps one of the oldest practices. Thus giving us an insight into the discipline, that is yoga he earned the mantle of being the father of yoga. “YOGA SUTRA,” penned by the great sage Patanjali, gives us guidelines on proper performance of yoga to achieve mastery over our minds and souls. The basic structure on what yoga that we practice today is from this 2000-year-old treatise.

Principle of Yoga

It can be consulted to obtain control over oneself by practicing various yogic philosophies. We can gain a better perspective of our real potential by an intimate knowledge of the more exceptional concepts of our spiritual growth. Yoga is one of the weapons in the arsenal which is highly effective when it comes to achieving spiritual growth and understanding.

It is because of this reason, why the effects and reach of yoga are prevalent even in this modern day world. And it doesn’t seem like it is going to stop growing either. Especially now that it has obtained a western tag of approval and a trendy do-over. However, yoga is not only influenced by Hindu beliefs. The two other major religious sects of India namely Jainism and Buddhism have also had a significant impact on the way we perform it. A set of postures accompanied with a definitive result on a particular part of the anatomy makes all of us wonder about the extent of knowledge which our ancestors possessed. All this without the use of high accuracy instruments that we have access to now. It is simply is a miraculous feat worth all the appreciation.

Yoga also consists also of meditation which has many perks of its own. However, meditation is more to rein in our mental faculties rather than the physical.  Perhaps the effect yoga has on our physical health, is because of us being in sync with our spiritual half. There are many different types of yoga, each with their own set of benefits.

TYPES OF YOGA

Yoga studios have cropped up everywhere and have now become popular hubs. They offer various yoga courses. Yoga now has moved further from being typically a spiritual experience to a more of physical exercise. It is not only bending and contorting your body into nearly impossible postures, but also a carefully thought out breathing technique to be followed which will yield productive results.

Basic types of Yoga:

1. Hatha yoga:

A sect of yoga which trains all its attention towards the physical postures. This is especially great for beginners. It comprises all basic poses and breathing techniques which we need to perform. Furthermore, it is very simple to perform.

2. Iyengar yoga:

Named after its founder B.K.S Iyengar. It gives more attention to alignment and postures. Special props can is incorporated into the routine. Furthermore, there are special breathing techniques is also assimilated while holding the poses.

3. Bikram yoga:

One of the most peculiar forms of yoga with many constraints. Credited to its founder Bikram Choudhury, who was a pioneer in introducing yoga to our western counterparts. To practice it we have  26 different basic postures, which we should perform specifically in a room similar to a sauna. The temperature of the room must be 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity must be 40%. Each posture, we should perform twice.

4. Ashtanga yoga:

Ashtanga translates into “Eight limbs path.” The near-impossible positions I mentioned earlier, well this is it. Not advisable for beginners because it contains many steps. Ashtanga yoga starts off with five reps of sun salutation A, then moves on to 5 of sun salutation B, then a couple of opening and closing postures.

5. Vinyasa yoga:

One of the most popular forms of yoga. You can learn this in any yoga studios near you. It is very flowy and athletic. Music can be an excellent accompaniment to make the experience more enjoyable.

There are multiple other versions of yoga, which is an entire institution in itself. Power yoga, Jivamukti yoga, Sivananda yoga, Yin yoga, Restorative yoga, prenatal yoga, and Anusara yoga to name a few.

WHAT BENEFITS DOES YOGA PROVIDE?

There is a laundry list of health benefits we derive from yoga. What makes the deal sweeter is, that there are no side effects because of practicing yoga. This discipline is so advanced that, there are some studies which prove that yoga has worked wonders in places which western medicine has fallen short.

  • Yoga increases the flexibility of the body and makes joints stronger.
  • Also, yoga acts as a productive work out which can help in weight management as well as a useful therapy.
  • Yoga is also said cures many conditions like PCOD and acts as a stress reliever.
  • Practicing yoga helps builds muscle strength and corrects posture related problems by amending it.
  • Relieves lower back pain and neck pains too.
  • Betters bone health and provides extra power to bones.
  • Increases blood flow thereby increasing immunity.
  • Great form of rehabilitation for people recovering from diseases.

These are just a few of the multiple benefits of yoga. While yoga has a huge impact on the physical aspect, it also helps cure mental health issues.

YOGA POSES & ASANAS FOR BEGINNERS

If you are a beginner, it is best to start from something simple and slowly graduate to the more complicated lot.

1. Tadasana:

We can also call it Mountain pose. Standing erect, feet apart and letting the hands along your body. It’s the mother of all asanas mainly helpful for correcting posture.

2. Uttanasana:

Initially, in tadasana, take a long breath in, exhale as you bend your body forward, and place your hand parallel to the feet on the ground. It is a great stretching exercise.

3. Adho Mukha Svanasana:

The downward facing dog pose. When kneeling on all fours, lift your knees off the floor and place your feet flat on the ground, making an inverted V with your body.

Other simple asanas include Vrikshasana, Padmasana, Bhujangasana, Balasana, Shavasana, Virabhadrasana, Trikonasana, and Sukhasana. YouTube has a lot of yoga videos for our perusal. Also, yoga studios near you are much more preferable due to interaction with trained professionals.

With clinical proof, there is no denying that yoga is most beneficial. The underlying purpose of yoga is to attain salvation or mukthi from the cycle of rebirth by mastering the physical body, the mind, and the spirit.