Yoga exercises are called asanas. Some are simple, but they are the basis for more advanced postures. It’s essential that the basic postures be mastered before moving on to the more advanced asanas.
As with all exercise, warm up your muscles before you start your fitness routine, and remember to finish off your exercise regimen with cooling-down exercises.
Good warm-up exercises include walking around the room, lifting and relaxing your shoulders, moving your arms in gentle circles backward and forward, moving your eyes, and rolling your head gently back and forth.
Once you feel warmed-up, it’s wise to start with easier poses and move on to more strenuous ones. For instance, the Cat posture is a good first asana after warm-up, because it will continue to stretch your muscles.
Another good stretching pose is the Seated Forward bend, which elongates the shoulders, back and hamstrings. Strengthening postures include the Backward Dog, the Hero pose and the Warrior asana. The Half Spinal Twist is a yoga pose that helps to strengthen the spine.
A qualified yoga instructor can recommend other poses that will improve your balance, coordination and large motor ability. A good teacher will also know which postures can help you recover from certain injuries. One of yoga’s major benefits is its contribution to stress relief, as it focuses on breathing to bring about inner calm and release tension.
Breathing exercises known as Pranayamas emphasize breathing control and frequently involve holding your breath. Some are meant to increase energy, while others are meant to cool the body. In all cases, it’s important to do asanas before performing pranayamas, because certain breathing exercises can temporarily deprive muscles of the oxygen they need to function properly.
While easy to get started, it’s clear that yoga is a fitness regimen that requires extensive instruction for beginners. Getting off to a good start by learning from an experienced teacher will make yoga more beneficial and fun.