The Beginner's Guide to Mindfulness

Chapter 6: Yoga Explained in Plain English

yoga

What is Yoga?

Yoga is an integrated physical and mental practice with roots in India. Although there are many varieties of yoga, the consistent elements include:

  • A focus on the breath
  • Controlled movement through a series of poses and flows

What are the Benefits of Yoga?

Yoga helps develop proprioception, or awareness of your body within your environment.

It’s also a form of physical exercise that improves strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Each variation of yoga emphasizes different aspects, and will lead to different benefits. (E.g. Vinyasa yoga is active, powerful, and strength-building, while Iyengar focuses on about precise forms and alignment.)

What Does Yoga Look Like?

Similar to meditation, yoga emphasizes the breath. But instead of staying seated, you coordinate your breath with a series of flowing movements and static poses.

It’s an integrated mind-body connection that’s meditative in nature.

In an age where physical demands are at their lowest of all time, developing physical awareness doesn’t come very naturally. But it fosters a greater sense of connection and self-understanding.

Yoga in Everyday Life

Yogis will find themselves using their breath and movement as tools to bring peace to the body. Yoga helps you understanding when the body is holding tension, and how to release it.

I experience a change in my psychology after practicing yoga, with noticeably greater peace of mind.

Getting Started With Yoga

Go to a Local Class

You can find yoga studios all over the world.

There are great benefits to practicing with an instructor, as they will give you feedback and hands-on guidance. Practicing with a community of like-minded individuals helps me stay motivated, present, and get the most out of my practice.

If price is a limiting factor, you can find “pay-what-you-want” yoga classes in most cities. Search "donation yoga near me" to find a location near you.

Practice at Home

Image via Sivana East

Practicing yoga at home is both convenient and affordable. As a beginner, it can be helpful to do a few classes at home to get the feel for things before going into a class environment.

Free Yoga Video Resources

  • Do Yoga With Me
    My personal favorite. DYWM has an extensive library of videos in various styles, lengths, and difficulties. (Looking for a place to start? Try Beginner Basics in Flow with Fiji McAlpine.)
  • The Yoga Collective
    Another high-quality resource with many videos.
  • YouTube
    A search for "yoga class" returns nearly 3million videos on Youtube. Needless to say, you can find something you'll like.

Equipment to Practice Yoga at Home

To practice yoga at home, you’ll want to get your own yoga mat (like this one). It helps keep you in place during various postures, and makes the experience comfortable.

Optional accessories that may be useful include yoga blocks and a strap.

Keep Reading! Up Next: 
Chapter 7: Introduction to Journaling

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