So you’re thinking of trying yoga, but you don’t really know where to start? This detailed guide will help you relax, take a deep breath, and just be yoga.
To a newbie, yoga can look complicated and more than a little daunting. Despite its endless variations like Hatha and Ashtanga, and poses that look like they belong to an Olympic gymnastics final rather than your living room, it might surprise you to hear that yoga is really quite simple. Through carefully constructed breathing exercises and postures, you can easily strengthen the bond between your mind, body, and spirit.
Before you get started, you’ll probably have hundreds of questions. We’ve put together this detailed guide to explain what yoga is, and how it can help you achieve your physical and mental wellbeing goals. You’ll be amazed to find out that yoga can also help you lose weight!
You might be wondering whether or not you should sign up for lessons at your local yoga studio, but we’ll show you why you should consider practicing from the comfort of your own home.
So just be yoga. Take a deep breath, grab a yoga mat, and settle down for a comprehensive introduction to this amazing practice.
Yoga originated in India 5,000 years ago as the physical and mental manifestation of the mind-body-spirit connection. Some assume that yoga is a religion ‒ it isn’t, although its spiritual philosophies overlap with those of Buddhism and Hinduism.
Nowadays yoga is a hugely popular form of exercise around the world. Many people believe that yoga is a state of mind ‒ just be yoga.
Yoga can develop your physical strength as well as your mental wellbeing, and achieves this by focussing on breathing and flexibility. The practice of yoga is formed of a combination of poses (or postures) combined with rhythmic deep breathing exercises.
You might have already noticed on youtube or your yoga studio’s class schedule that there are lots of different types of yoga. Let’s take a look at them now.
Most of the yoga that is practiced in the western world can be classified as Hatha yoga. In general terms, Hatha yoga is made up of a series of postures and movements that are designed to strengthen and calm the mind, body, and spirit. Traditionally, this would be done in preparation for meditation.
Hatha yoga is perfect for beginners or even experienced yogis who want to work on their balance, posture, and mindset.
Vinyasa yoga is a style of yoga that focuses more on rhythmic flows rather than static postures. For this reason, Vinyasa is often much more dynamic and energetic than other yoga styles. Vinyasa is a fun style of yoga that’s even suitable for beginners.
With deep stretches and long posture holds, Yin yoga is a much slower form of yoga practice. It builds strength and balance and works your body’s deep connective tissues. Long moments of stillness are highly effective in establishing a calm state of mind and good mental health.
Ashtanga yoga is a structured form of yoga where you are required to complete a sequence of specific poses one after the other in order. Ashtanga is very spiritual, and is perhaps the most challenging type of yoga, so it isn’t recommended for beginner yogis.
Restorative yoga is the ultimate yoga practice for those who just need to chill out. Designed to re-center the mind and de-stress the body, restorative yoga is formed of a series of supported poses held for a long time. You might even find yourself drifting off in a Restorative yoga class, but don’t worry, this is the idea.
These are just some of the many different types of yoga. Find out more here:
Although it can take some time to master, yoga has countless benefits for the mind and body, and people of almost any age and ability can do it. Here are ten of the seemingly endless benefits of yoga, most of which are scientifically proven:
Yoga can increase balance and flexibility
Yoga can improve lung function and endurance
Yoga can help you sleep better
Yoga can make your heart healthier
Yoga can fight depression and anxiety
Yoga can de-stress both the body and mind
Yoga can fight chronic pain
Yoga can encourage you to eat healthier food
Yoga can boost your metabolism
Yoga can improve your overall quality of life
Yoga is one of the best exercise techniques to promote long-lasting health for your body and mind. As we’ve seen, the benefits of yoga are numerous and extend far beyond the ten we mentioned above.
Since yoga is such a gentle form of exercise and burns relatively few calories, many people wonder if yoga will help them lose weight and burn fat. The answer is yes! You might find that practicing yoga helps you lose weight, burn fat, and improve the general condition of your body in many ways.
Much of how yoga affects your health is to do with mindset. For example, weight gain and obesity are caused by a variety of factors, many of which are linked to your mental health. Yoga helps to establish calmness and self-awareness, and detoxifies your mind by expelling all your negative and limiting thoughts. Yoga is a state of mind. You should try to just be yoga. In this way, practicing yoga can help you lose weight. It helps to reduce or eliminate stress, and enables you to take control of your personal wellbeing.
But that’s not the only way yoga can help you to lose weight. Let’s take a look at all the other ways practicing yoga could help you to slim down:
Yoga can help you lose weight by encouraging healthier choices about food and drink.
“How?” you might ask. Well, practicing yoga helps you to become much more self-aware and encourages you to think about your health and wellbeing. Before yoga, you might not have made the connection between your favorite fast-food takeout and how sluggish you felt the next day. If you practice yoga, you might find that you naturally start to choose healthy and nutritious food options that make you feel amazing. You might even find yourself saying no to your favorite glass of Chardonnay!
Yoga can help you lose weight by boosting your metabolism.
We all have a metabolic rate, which is the rate at which the body converts food to energy. If you have a slow metabolism, your body might prefer converting food to fat instead of energy.
Many factors affect a person’s metabolic rate, including physical activity. Yoga, as a physical activity, will help to jumpstart your metabolism and encourage your body to burn more fat.
Yoga also helps your body develop lean and strong muscle mass, and the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will become.
Yoga can help you lose weight by improving your sleep quality.
If you are not getting enough high-quality sleep then this could explain your unhealthy weight or why you are finding it hard to lose those unwanted pounds.
Sleep controls your hunger hormones, so those who get more sleep can keep their hunger in check better than tired people. Yoga is a relaxing and restorative form of exercise, and those who do yoga regularly usually find they sleep better.
Yoga can help you lose weight by reducing your stress levels.
If you feel stressed and anxious, you probably have a high level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body. Unfortunately, cortisol encourages your body to store more fat.
Yoga is a brilliant way to reduce stress and relax, so you could find that it helps you shed your unwanted fat.
To find out more about how yoga can help you lose weight, visit:
Whether or not to practice yoga at home or in a group class is a frequent question that both new and experienced yogis ponder over. A class setting might seem like an attractive option for social people who see classes as a chance to make friends, and others might prefer the idea of being taught by an instructor who is physically present.
Practicing yoga at home can be a little tricky for beginners, even though it offers some level of privacy where you are free to make mistakes. However, if you follow a high-quality yoga program you’ll probably find that you see much better results by practicing at home instead of a group class.
Here are the three main reasons why practicing yoga at home might be a much better alternative to attending generic yoga classes:
Generic yoga classes are…well…too generic.
So you’ve joined just about every yoga class in town, have bought a fancy gym mat, and you’ve parted with a lot of money for class fees. Weeks and months later, having spent hours contorting your body into complex poses in sweaty, crowded yoga studios, and with your purse feeling decidedly emptier, you still haven’t seen the results you wanted. What’s even worse is that you’ve probably suffered a few injuries along the way.
The trouble with generic yoga classes is that they don’t cater to your body, your abilities, your prior experience, and your personal goals. Yoga classes are in high demand, so they tend to be packed full of people of different ages and experience levels. The chances are that the experts in the room are lowering their standards, completing poses and flows that don’t challenge them at all. There will also be novice yogis who are trying tricky poses without the right knowledge or guidance, risking serious injury.
Critics argue that yoga was never designed to be a group activity; it’s more about your personal mind-body connection and headspace. Just be yoga. It doesn’t have to be complicated, dangerous, or expensive.
Generic yoga classes don’t relax your mind and body.
This might seem surprising to you since it’s broadly accepted that yoga is one of the best relaxing practices in the world. It can ground you, relax you, and de-stress your mind and body. However, research shows that attending mainstream yoga classes actually increases the level of cortisol ‒ a stress hormone ‒ in your body, which ultimately leads to fat gain.
Think back to all the yoga classes you have ever attended. Have you ever felt stressed because you’re running late for the class, meaning you’ll have to fight for your mat and a space in the studio? Have you ever felt self-conscious about how you look in your yoga clothes, or worried that the instructor or your classmates are judging your abilities? Now do you see how yoga classes can cause you stress and unhappiness?
If you want to effectively relax your mind and body, try to practice yoga away from a stress-inducing environment. Practice yoga in the comfort of your own home or at an isolated spot surrounded by nature.
Generic yoga classes don’t offer progression.
With generic yoga classes, people come and people go. What doesn’t change is the complete lack of progression and learning structure.
With such high student turnover, it’s easy to see why teachers rarely introduce new poses or teach more experienced students complex skills. The class remains pretty much the same week on week, without any meaningful progression.
Your yoga program should take into account exactly where you’re starting from, and should naturally adjust to your experience and individual abilities.
The bottom line? New yogis might prefer to take a few group classes where a qualified instructor can teach them the basics and correct their mistakes. For effective and meaningful progression, opt to practice yoga away from the mainstream class setting.
The benefits of yoga extend far beyond weight loss ‒ you could become a more positive, healthier, and self-aware person in no time at all. Yoga doesn’t have to be complicated, it’s actually one of the most effective ways you can de-stress your mind and dispel negative energy.
All you need is a calm and comfortable environment, a yoga mat, and the desire to make incredible changes to your wellbeing. There’s no need to spend money on expensive generic yoga classes that won’t help you progress and achieve your personal goals.
So what are you waiting for? Inhale, exhale. Just be yoga.