Health

How to do Yoga

Daily life with its chores and endless responsibilities – personal, social and work related, can get overwhelming.
Sometimes we feel like it’s just too much.
Like we have worked ourselves into a corner, juggling so many things, all at once!
Breathe and let go!
. . . . For a while.
This is the time for some meditation and relaxation.

Relaxing with yoga

A few moments away from the grind can fix everything.

Yoga is like a tiny holiday that we can take every day to rejuvenate our spirit.
So, no matter where you are in your wellness journey, yoga is an excellent addition to your regimen.
Of course, you can join a yoga class where a yoga teacher can guide you!
But, if making time for a regular class is a luxury you cannot afford, or perhaps you feel more comfortable doing it on your own, then you can practise yoga even in your living room.
So, just steal 30 minutes from your busy day, wear comfortable yoga pants and bring out the yoga mat that’s hiding in your closet.

Getting ready for doing Yoga

Before you start your yoga routine you need to pay attention to a few things.

Should you eat before yoga?

Preferably not.

You will be doing a lot of twists and stretches. So avoid eating heavy meals at least an hour or two before starting yoga practice. If you must eat, then natural and nutritious snacks, like fruits, are preferable.

Hydration is essential

Depending on your intensity, you may sweat while practicing yoga.

Hydration is important for all kinds of exercise, so keep a water bottle handy, but avoid drinking too much water. Having a full stomach and a full bladder while working out may cause cramps or gas. If you feel thirsty or dehydrated during yoga take little sips of water.

The location

The next thing that you need is the right spot. Make sure to choose a spot that allows you to stretch a minimum of three feet in every direction.
Is there a patch in your garden you can use? Is the balcony a good fit? What about your living room?
Once you have located the perfect spot, make sure it is clean and dust-free. You can light scented candles to help you relax or set the mood. If that is not your thing then just open the windows for ventilation – fresh air and sunlight, at your service!

When to do yoga?

Get up a little early when the family is still sleeping, else, hand over your kids to friends or relatives! Do remember to keep your mobile phone on silent.
Take care of these few points and you are all set for practicing yoga.

How to do Yoga at home?

Yoga is for everyone. Irrespective of our size, shape, age and fitness level.
Do not feel intimidated by complicated yoga poses that fitness gurus, athletes or celebrities showcase on Instagram.
Yoga is versatile. You can modify it to match your physical readiness. Start with tiny steps and persist each day. You will get better. The ultimate goal is to connect with your mind and body and become a better version of yourself.
Poses are the building blocks of yoga. Choose poses that are doable. If you are a beginner, start with the basic. As you progress and your flexibility will improve , and you will want to add advanced poses.
If you want to practice yoga at home, start by researching and understanding what type of poses are ideal for you.

Deep Breathing for Home Practitioners

All types of yoga poses have breathing exercises at their core.
Breathing is our life force. It not only keeps us alive but also reflects our emotions.

Don’t we all stop to take a deep breath or heave a sigh of relief in between our hectic schedules? Research shows that we breathe fast and shallow when we are angry or anxious. Similarly, we breathe slow and deep when happy.

Deep breathing exercises are the fastest and most effective way to get rid of stress. They are great for the nervous system and therefore great for relaxation. They are even prescribed by psychologists as an instant relief from anxiety. These are also good for your lungs, heart and digestive system.

Yogic breathing techniques have the power to centre your mind, declutter your thoughts and get rid of fatigue. They can even affect our minds and thoughts.
Breathing exercises oxygenate your blood and pump more oxygen to your brain. This results in better memory and improved focus.

Deep breathing or Pranayama can be done at any time of the day, provided you have completed your meal at-least an hour or two before.
You can learn about specific deep breathing techniques by following reputed yoga gurus online.

It is safe to say that a dose of deep breathing works better than a mug of coffee to make you alert in the middle of a hectic day! (source)

Once you are comfortable with Pranayama, you can introduce yoga poses or asanas into your practice.
The powerful combination of breathing exercises and asanas coupled with meditation can help balance your mind and strengthen your body.

Poses you can try doing at home

For beginners there are many simple poses that can help them get started. If you are joining a yoga class, your yoga teacher will train you through all asanas. If you have decided to practice yoga at home, we have rounded up a few asanas which are good for beginners. Just make sure you do 2-5 minutes of simple stretches before starting. : (source)

Child’s Pose/Balasana

This is a common beginner’s pose. The child’s pose is an effective therapeutic yoga pose that helps relieve stress. It increases blood circulation to the brain and reduces headaches. Child’s pose relaxes your spine, neck and shoulders; while stretching your lower back, hips, waist, thighs and knees. It is also done between more advanced poses as a resting position.

How to do Child’s Pose

Kneel and sit comfortably on your heels. Stretch your knees apart so that they are as wide as your hips. Sit up straight and lengthen your spine. Take a deep breath and exhale.

Bow down smoothly and walk your arms out on the yoga mat. Stretch your arms as much as you can and place your forehead on the yoga mat. Hold the position for a minute while taking deep breaths. You will feel your spine relax and the stress leave your body.

Precaution

If you have a knee injury it’s a good idea to avoid the child’s pose. If you are pregnant, just spread your knees wider to accommodate your belly between your thighs. (source)

Plank/ Kumbhakasana

Yes, the plank is a yoga pose. Without even knowing this, most types of workout methods incorporate it into their routines. The reason is that it engages the entire body and gives the fantastic all-round benefits. It tones your abdominal muscles, spine and arm muscles. It is great for your posture and balance. Regular practice of this yoga pose reduces the risk of back pain and improves bone health. And it burns big calories. Even more than sit-ups or crunches. Most importantly, it stretches your shoulders and shoulder blades resulting in reduction of stress and tension.

Everyone across the internet seems to be doing plank challenges to show their strength. So, it may come across as an advanced workout. But we have listed it here because it has a modified version, which is perfect for beginners.

How to do the plank pose

Get on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be directly below your shoulders. Your knees should be directly under Your breathing should be even. Now, extend your feet back one at a time and come into a position similar to a push-up. The only difference between the push-up and plank pose, is that in the plank your wrists need to be directly under your shoulders.

Pull your abdominal muscles in and come into a straight line from your toes to your head. Inhale and exhale deeply and hold for as long as you can. You may feel slight trembles in your body. This is a sign that your muscles are engaged properly and there is nothing to worry. Once you feel weary, just bend your knees and come back on your fours. Repeat for as many times as you can.

You can modify this pose by resting your upper body on your elbows instead of wrists. This is a good idea for beginners who are just starting this yoga pose.

Precaution

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome or any wrist injury, do not do plank pose. During plank pose, your weight bears down on your wrists, so make sure you do not over-exert yourself. (source)

Cobra pose/ Bhujangasana

“Bhujanga” means snake in Sanskrit. The cobra pose is a gentle backbend which is excellent for flexibility of your spine. It strengthens your arms and shoulders and opens up your chest, ribs and lungs. This makes it great for people who feel stress around the chest and heart. If you have asthma, it’s a good idea to practice cobra pose regularly to improve breathing and the capacity of your lungs.

How to do Cobra Pose

Lie on the floor, face-down. Stretch out your legs flat behind you. Point your feet outwards firmly touching the yoga mat. Feel your legs stretch.
Place your palms under your shoulders and gently raise your torso away from the yoga mat as you inhale. Straighten your arms as much as you can and stretch your neck.
Breathe easily, hold the pose for 30 seconds or so. Feel the stretch across your spine and arms. Release back into the mat slowly while exhaling.

Precaution

Pregnant women should not do this asana. Do not attempt if you have back pain.

Downward dog pose/ adhomukha svanasana

The downward dog pose is a standing pose. This helps you build strength gently while stretching the body. It is great for keeping your spine flexible, and stretches your hamstrings, arches, shoulders and calves. If you have trouble with headaches, insomnia or stress, the downward dog pose is good for you.

You can use the pose to rest. It is also a transition pose that you can do between other poses. It is also one of the poses comprising the sun salutation or Surya namaskar.

How to do the downward dog pose

Get on your hands and knees. Place your wrists directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Now stretch your fingers towards the end of the mat.
While breathing steadily, start raising your upper back. Make sure your weight is distributed on your hands evenly. Press down firmly through your fingers. Now, straighten your knees and start lifting them from the floor. Make sure your toes are tucked.
Stretch your legs, but do not lock your knees. Your body should look like a triangle. Imagine that someone is pulling you up through your hips and thighs. Try to rise in this pose, and make sure you stretch the muscles in your abdomen, legs and arm. Breathe evenly, and hold for as long as you can.

When you want to release, breathe, relax your spine and slowly bring your knees down and touch the floor. You can relax into the child’s pose and attempt the downward dog again or transition to another asana.

Precaution

Avoid if you are pregnant or suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. (source)

Tree pose/ Vrikshasana

The tree pose or vrikshasana is a standing pose that helps improve balance and gets the mind and body in sync. It strengthens your shoulders and legs. If you have sciatica, virkshasana is highly recommended.

How to do the Tree Pose

Stand with your feet and knees together. Shift your weight on your right foot, and hold the ankle of the left foot. Place your left foot on the inside of your right thigh and press it in. Bring your palms near your chest and get them together in a Namaskar position. Stretch your arms up above your head and try to reach up. Find the balance and hold this position while breathing deeply.
Hold for a minute, bring your arms back and go back to standing on both feet. Repeat with the other leg.

Precaution

If you have problems balancing, use a chair or a wall for support. Avoid this if you have insomnia or low blood pressure because you may experience light-headedness. If you have high blood pressure, do the vrikshasana without extending your hands up. It may cause problems if you have knee injuries, so check with your doctor first. (source)

Triangle pose/ Utthita Trikonasana

The Triangle pose is a part of many yoga sequences. It is believed to be good for your hips, spine, shoulders and calves. It is an excellent pose for building endurance and strength.

How to do the Triangle pose

Stand straight. Now, exhale and place your feet around four feet apart. Raise your arms slowly, parallel to the floor. Your shoulder blades should stretch straight, with your palms open. Actively reach out to the sides through the tips of your fingers.

Now turn your feet slightly outward, at approximately 90 degrees. Bring your left knee slightly inward. Put your weight down on your ankles. Now start bending, so that your right hand is in the same direction as your right foot. Make sure your left hipbone is pointing sky-ward. Bend further so that your hand reaches the floor.
Your shoulder, knee and right ear should be on the same plane, and that your stretched hands should form a right angle with the floor. Your body should look like a right-angle triangle.

Breathe deeply and evenly throughout, hold for around 30 seconds. Now, rise slowly so that you are upright. Try with the other side.

Precaution

If you suffer from headaches, or have low blood pressure, avoid the triangle pose. It puts pressure on your abdomen, so if you have any stomach ailments, be careful. (source)

Bridge pose/ sethu bandhasana

In Sanskrit, “sethu” means bridge, and “bandh” means to build. The bridge pose is a versatile backbend and can be modified in a variety of ways. It relaxes and strengthens your thighs and hips.

How to do the Bridge pose

Lie down on your back. Bend your knees, keep them shoulder-width apart. Now put your arms on the side so that they are parallel to your body.
Slowly lift your pelvis. Feel a pull from your stomach and pubic bone towards the ceiling. Make sure your feet are firmly planted on the floor. Now continue breathing evenly.

Straighten your arms, and reach out towards your ankles with your fingers. Your palms must be planted on the ground. Roll your shoulders, and push your pelvis up. Hold for one minute. While exhaling, bring your pelvis down to release. You can repeat this sequence three or four times and then transition to some other backbend.

Precaution

This pose puts pressure on your shoulder and neck. If you have spondylosis or any neck problem, avoid doing the bridge pose. (source)

Corpse pose/ savasana

The corpse pose or savasana is for relaxing at the end of your exercise cycle. Lie straight on the ground. Keep your palms facing upwards. Breathe in and out and relax. Feel your heartbeat slow down and the energy release.

Of course, you can add many other poses to your routine, and also add movements that will help you burn calories faster. However, you should know which styles of Yoga are suitable for you.

Online Yoga- Learning Yoga via Videos

If you want to practise Yoga by watching fitness videos on YouTube, there are many channels which you can subscribe to.

When you are doing yoga at home, it is good to have some guidance. Thanks to the internet, there are many video channels that can help you with your journey to fitness. Many yoga channels offer a series of videos starting right from basic poses to the more advanced ones. Others may incorporate Yoga with aerobics. You may even find some videos on power yoga which include intense sequences that burn calories faster.

So, which is the best fit for you?

That depends on where you are in your journey for wellness. It is great if you have an objective estimate of how flexible you are. The other thing to keep in mind is what poses you can do. If you have any ailments or injuries, talk to your doctor to understand what poses or workout will suit you best.

What Yoga poses or types of Yoga you can do also depends on your age. Many poses and movements are restricted for people of advanced years. If you are pregnant, you should be doubly careful about what poses you attempt.

If you are a beginner, it is a good idea to join a yoga class. A yoga instructor can design a useful roadmap for your fitness journey.

Staying fit with Yoga

As said earlier, Yoga is for everyone, and there are many benefits of Yoga. From keeping you fit to stress-busting: Yoga can help you with almost everything. When you practise yoga, it not only helps with your physical fitness, but also good for your mental health. The meditative aspects of Yoga or deep breathing techniques of Pranayama help you calm your mind and rejuvenate you. It can also help you relax and bring down your blood pressure levels.

When you do yoga, you are taking a little time off for yourself. Forgetting your worries for a while does wonders for your mind. When you practise yoga, you are hitting the recharge switch- it helps you shake your worries off and feel ready to take on the world.

Not only that, physical activities act as stressbusters. Studies show that exercising or doing activities like yoga release the “feel good” hormones like dopamine and serotonin. This is good for your nervous system and helps alleviate depression and anxiety.

If you are already on a fitness program, you can comfortably accommodate Yoga into your routine. Talk to your fitness instructor to find the best way to combine Yoga and your favoured form of exercise.

If you are going to practice Yoga by yourself, or even want to join a yoga class, make sure you have the right outfit. Do not wear cotton, because cotton gets heavy when you sweat and clings to your skin. This may make movements difficult, and the sweat build-up may also lead to infections.

It is better to find the right yoga pants for your routine. And who says yoga pants have to be boring? You can find great colorful options online.

Conclusion

Life today is busy. It may not be possible to travel to the gym and put in hours there. For most women, taking an hour off to go for a jog or walk outside seems like an impossible task. But if you practise Yoga, you can carve out half an hour or so for yourself, and work out from the comfort of your own home.
Whether you are just starting, or are a hardcore fitness enthusiast, you can reap the benefits of Yoga- and feel good from the inside.

Shukti Sarma has a master’s degree in Journalism. She currently serves as the content head for us. She can be described as extremely talented and private. She designs our content strategy with spot on accuracy.

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