A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga

A Beginner's Guide to YogaDe Visu / Shutterstock
Yoga has been around for ages, but over the past couple of decades, it seems to be gaining even more popularity than ever before. There are some pretty good reasons for that, as it’s an exercise that all ages can take part in and it offers not just amazing physical benefits, but also mental benefits. Yoga is an exercise you can learn and pick up on to practice at home on your own, with a group of friends, or as an organized class to join.

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What Is Yoga?

Yoga can be described as a variety of specific body poses, meditation, and breathing control that is meant to aid in physical and mental well-being. Today’s modern form of yoga has strayed a bit from its original practice, but its goals remain the same. While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it was developed and by whom, it’s agreed upon that the practice of yoga originated somewhere in the east thousands of years ago. Despite the fact there are many different types of yoga, they all share similar practices and goals.

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What Are the Health Benefits?

There are a number of health benefits tied to yoga, and because there are so many poses and such variety in each pose, it can be catered to a wide range of age groups. Some of the noteworthy benefits of yoga are:

  • Increased muscle strength

  • Increased flexibility

  • Decreased blood pressure

  • Increased blood flow

  • Relief of anxiety and stress

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Simple Poses to Try

There is no shortage of poses in the practice of yoga and many of them offer variations in order to suit the participant’s health needs/issues. Here’s a look at a couple of simple poses you can try at home:

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The Raised Arms Pose

This pose is all about proper breathing and posture. Stand with your feet together and then inhale as you bring your arms up reaching to the sky and hold them straight up over your head. While you are doing this, focus on maintaining good posture, which means your heels need to stay on the ground, you are reaching through your fingertips, and your shoulders aren’t hunched up at your ears.

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The Warrior Pose

Stand with your legs three feet apart and then turn your left foot in a small amount and your right foot to a 90 degree angle. Raise your arms to the sides while keeping your shoulders level and not raised. Lastly bend your right knee to a 90 degree angle without extending over your toe. This can be done on both sides.

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Upward Facing Dog

Begin by lying face down with your toes touching the ground. Place your arms at your side and begin to push up as you lift your chest off the ground. When doing this be sure you keep your shoulders and hips down. Hold this pose, release, and then repeat.