Why learn yoga? Most beginners to yoga are looking for a way to relax, for a way of coping with their stressful lives. Sivananda Yoga offers a 5-point programme for greater physical and mental well-being through yoga, encompassing
• Proper exercise,
• Proper breathing,
• Proper relaxation,
• Proper diet and
• Meditation and positive thinking.
Beginners Yoga Class
The individual yoga poses (also called yoga asanas), as well as the particular sequence of yoga exercises, are perfectly designed to relieve tension in the body. Yoga poses systematically contract or stretch the muscles of the body, releasing tension and leading to a profound feeling of relaxation.
The components of a typical beginners yoga class are introduced below, along with a few of the health benefits of each yoga pose. Ideally, persons new to yoga should learn the yoga poses from an experienced yoga teacher. Books such as the Sivananda Beginner’s Guide to Yoga offer valuable guidance when practising yoga at home.
Duration: approx. 45 minutes
At the beginning of the yoga class, the yoga student lies on the back in the relaxation pose, breathing deeply, before being guided through an active relaxation exercise where various parts of the body are alternately tensed and released. This combination of deep breathing and active relaxation helps calm the mind and relieve tension in the body – the optimum start to every yoga class!
4–6 SLOW SUN SALUTATIONS
The Sun Salutation, a classical sequence of twelve yoga positions, is an energising warm-up routine that is performed at the start of every yoga class. Dozens of muscles are stretched and toned in this yoga exercise.
Between yoga exercises, the beginner yoga student rests on their back in the so-called “corpse” pose, breathing deeply and feeling the positive effects of the previous yoga pose.
Single Leg Lifts – Are not proper yoga poses, but serve to stretch the leg muscles and warm them up for the subsequent yoga exercises.
Double Leg Lifts – Strengthen the abdominal muscles, which in turn helps in holding the yoga poses longer.
This yoga asana is an inverted pose that increases the blood supply to the brain. The yoga pose exerts a gentle pressure on the neck region, which helps regulate the functions of the thyroid gland (which governs metabolism).
When performing this yoga asana, you are breathing deeply which increases the vital capacity of the lungs and can help improve respiratory problems. This yoga pose energizes the thyroid gland and enhances the flexibility of the upper back.
SITTING FORWARD BEND (Paschimottanasana)
This yoga pose stretches the entire back of the body, increasing the flexibility of the lumbar spine and improving postural alignment. The yoga asana gives a nice massage to the abdominal organs, helping relieve such complaints as constipation.
The final yoga asana in our beginners yoga class. This yoga pose entails a sideways bending movement that simultaneously stretches, contracts and relaxes all major back muscles. This makes the spine more elastic.
The most rewarding part of the beginners yoga class! The full benefits of the yoga sequence unfold during these 10 to 15 minutes at the end of the yoga session. Through active relaxation (tensing and releasing muscles), deep breathing and a visualisation exercise, profound relaxation can be experienced on three levels: physical relaxation, mental relaxation and spiritual relaxation.
Don’t waste energy!
While many kinds of sports increase the energy level of the organism, they don’t really replenish our energy stores. The energy gained is wasted by keeping the muscles on constant standby, even while at ‘rest’. Many people go through the entire day and even night with tense muscles, so that they are consuming energy around the clock.
Recharge with yoga asanas
Yoga asanas and the final deep relaxation are effective muscle relaxation techniques to relax all parts of the body. Those who practise asanas regularly need less sleep and yet are more effective and feel well rested. At night they enter more quickly into deep sleep, which regenerates both body and mind, whereas restless sleep and dreaming waste a lot of energy.
A mind flooded with sensory impressions is overtaxed and tires easily. In fact, worrying consumes even more energy than physical tension. Mental fatigue ultimately leads to physical fatigue. So daily relaxation should not be seen as a luxury but rather as a necessity for keeping ourselves healthy and effective.
...and breathe away tension!
When you realise that your mind is tense, take a few minutes to breathe slowly and regularly and concentrate on your breathing. Yoga breathing exercises will make you aware of your breathing quite naturally. Rhythmical breathing brings physical and mental relaxation.
The key lies within
Complete mental and physical relaxation can only be experienced by going within and connecting with a higher power. As long as we continue to identify ourselves with the body and the mind, we will feel alone in the world.
Stress and worrying about the future are the unavoidable consequences of this type of thinking. Through spiritual relaxation you will realise that all happiness comes from within. Yoga relaxation techniques help us establish this inner connection and to overcome the obstacles which separate us from our true Self as well as from other people.