What do you need to know to start practising yoga?

Before you start practising yoga and learn basic yoga postures, you need to understand how different types of yoga might benefit you. This article covers what you need to know before you start practising yoga.

4 aspects of yoga

Yoga consists of more than just exercise and postures. Its practice includes 4 different aspects.

Asanas: the exercises or poses, with which yoga is most often associated.
Pranayama: the practice of breathing and breath control in combination with yogic exercises.
Meditation: or mind focus, including mindfulness, which is practiced during yoga.
Mantra: the sound or chant.

Three main yoga forms

There are essentially three major forms of yoga.

Begin a Hatha Yoga PracticeHatha yoga, or physical yoga, is the most popular style of yoga. Hatha yoga is based on the fundamental principle that a strong body is a must for enlightenment. The method lays great emphasis on concentration, breathing, determination, flexibility, stretching and also alignment. Hatha yoga also includes principles that help strengthen the body, quieten the mind and awaken the spirit within us.

Practice Astanga Yoga ExercisesAstanga yoga, an offshoot of Hatha yoga, is another popular form. Astanga yoga focuses on the co-ordination of asanas with breathing. There are six sets of postures in the practice and each set is performed separately.

Practice Viniyoga ExercisesViniyoga yoga is the third form. It attracts people who wish to practice a more subtle, or gentler, form of yoga. Viniyoga is a form of yoga which gives detailed personal attention to individual needs. In this form of yoga, the practitioner uses flowing movements [vinyasa]. These movements provide strength and balance to the psyche. It also heals us from within. This yogic practice is most beneficial and effective for both the young and the elderly. It offers relief to chronic pain sufferers, and also patients who are convalescing following injury, trauma, or disease.

There are other yoga forms which are offshoots of the three major ones described here.

7 principles for yoga beginners

Yoga is physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging. You’d sure think that you need to be flexible and in good shape to practice, or do, yoga. Not at all. All you need is a constant leaning to be a student and learn along the way. While it is recommended that you learn the tradition from a yoga teacher, it all depends on how you evolve yourself with the practice for tangible results to accrue. The more you evolve, the better it is for your health, wellbeing and spiritual evolution. The 7 principles below apply to all yoga practices:

  1. Yoga is not goal-oriented. You don’t need to set a goal.
  2. Don’t focus too much on performing the most complicated of asanas.
  3. Focus on the process, not on the result.
  4. Through yoga, you need to learn about, and know, your self.
  5. It’s advisable to enroll in a beginners’ class to learn the basic yoga postures and breathing exercises.
  6. You should learn to listen to your body and set your own pace.
  7. Yoga is your own journey. You are not doing it for someone else.

Namaste to all new yoga beginners!