It seems easy to start doing yoga, because there are a lot of books and videos about it. But they are not enough. If you choose too difficult a direction or choose the wrong exercises, you can be seriously injured. Here’s what you need to know to practice yoga on your own.
Choose a Direction
There are many directions of yoga, and some of them can not be practiced at home. For a self-study are suitable for a quiet direction:
- Ashtanga vinyasa yoga. In this direction, you need to strictly follow the sequence of series and poses. Between exercises you need to perform smooth movements – vinyasa. This dynamic practice is suitable for physically fit people.
- Vinyasa Yoga. In this direction there is no strict sequence of asanas. All exercises must be synchronized with breathing, i.e. it is necessary to start a pose on a breath, and to finish on an exhalation. It is suitable for any level of training.
- Hatha Yoga. This static practice includes classical poses and stands, breathing techniques and meditation. You should do exercises at a slow pace and control your breath. It can be practiced with any level of training.
- Nidra Yoga. This practice is designed to relax to the voice of the instructor or trainer. For this direction, you need to master one pose – savasana. You have to lie in it during the entire class for 20-40 minutes and follow the instructor’s commands to gradually relax each part of the body. Does not require physical training.
Check Your Health
Yoga classes strengthen the body and improve well-being. But before you start training, you should consult a therapist. If necessary, the doctor will refer for tests or prescribe additional examinations.
Yoga should not be practiced if there are:
- Schizophrenia and mental disorders.
- Hypertension of the second stage or higher.
Yoga is also contraindicated in the period of exacerbation of any disease, with fever and after recent surgery or trauma.
There are also limitations for certain exercises. If you have high blood pressure, you shouldn’t practice on your own:
- Deep twisting.
- Inverted postures.
- Handstands or headstands.
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For each exercise, you need to learn the guidelines for technique. For example, before twisting, the spine must be extended: in most poses, the back is kept straight. To do this, you have to stretch your top toward the ceiling, forward, or to the side, depending on your position in the asana.
When bending forward, the knees can be bent slightly, and the abdomen should be pressed against the hips, so as not to put tension in the lower back. Try to straighten your back more, rather than leaning harder against your legs. To avoid dizziness, you should straighten slowly and smoothly, and raise your head last.
Also, we must control the position of the neck and shoulders. In asana, the shoulders should be lowered, bringing the shoulder blades together and opening the chest. The neck should be extended and relaxed in the posture.
The instructor should tell about it in the class or explain it on the video, if the training is recorded. If practicing from books, such information should be in the description of the asana or the set of exercises.
On your own, it’s hard to trace the technique of doing the exercises, and repeated incorrect repetitions only reinforce your mistakes. You can learn the basic elements of yoga and breathing techniques at group classes.
Learn How to Breathe During the Class
Without a special breathing technique, yoga turns into an exercise. Such a breathing technique is called pranayama. It can be practiced separately from the performance of asanas, but it’s desirable to include it in the training complex.
For simple breathing practices, there are no contraindications. But yoga breathing is undesirable to practice if there are such ailments:
- Blood diseases.
- High intracranial and eye pressure.
- Lung abnormalities.
Also, pranayama isn’t practiced during menstruation or pregnancy, or during the period of recovery from severe head trauma.
In asana, it’s important to breathe slowly and evenly through the nose. If the breathing is uneven, it means that the pose is not built correctly or is too difficult. Then you should complete the asana or reduce the depth of the pose: less bend, flexion or twist, or you can bend your knees.
If you feel dizzy, nauseous or have a headache, you should do the final posture – savasana – and calm your breathing. The workout can only be continued if you feel better.
Choose the Right Time to Practice
With the help of yoga classes in the evening you can relieve stress from the whole day, and the practice in the morning will give a charge of vivacity.
You can practice at any time, but it’s more difficult for beginners to do the asanas in the morning. After sleep, muscles and ligaments are less plastic, which means a higher risk of injury.
In the evening, when the muscles become pliable and stretched, it’s easier to do the exercises. So, it’s better to exercise in the evening at first, and after regular exercise, move on to practice in the morning hours.
Perform the Exercises in the Correct Sequence
Perform the asanas only when the muscles are warmed up and the sequence of exercises is correct. Each successive pose prepares the joints and muscles for a new asana. Don’t make any sudden movements or jerks, but perform the transitions between asanas gently and smoothly.
You should start with a warm-up for 5-10 minutes. This will reduce the likelihood of injuries.
The basic complex can be selected in the following sequence: a few exercises standing, sitting, lying down and inverted poses for beginners.
It’s advisable to add asanas that compensate for the load of the previous pose. For example, after bends do a bend, after twists and turns to the right do a turn, twist to the left, or after a plank go into the child’s pose.
It’s possible to perform several asanas, and then one compensatory pose that is simpler and shorter than the basic ones.
Beginners should not practice complex postures – handstands, elbows, forearms and headstands. Without preparation, you can get a serious injury.
If some asanas are difficult or painful to do, you should ask the instructor what exercises to replace them. To practice on your own, you should choose a training video or a yoga book, where asanas are given with different variations of performance. There should be no pain or discomfort during the practice.
In home training before savasana, it’s mandatory to do the final asanas. If they are not included in the practice, you won’t be able to relax completely in the final pose.
And that’s why it’s always necessary to do shavasana pose. This way you can bring your nervous system and body into balance.
It’s desirable to practice savasana in a warm room. If the room is cool, you should cover yourself with a blanket or plaid and wear socks to keep your body warm.
You can cover your eyes with a blindfold to keep the light out. This will help you relax better.
If lying down is uncomfortable, you can put a rolled up towel, plaid or small pillows under your knees, head and lower back. You can also bend your knees. It’s important that the pose is comfortable.