The beauty of yoga is that it caters to those who are beginners or advanced and to those who want a meditative experience or those who want to strengthen and tone. Any physical, mental or spiritual goal a person has, can be achieved through some yoga.
First things first, yogis should gather some things: some comfortable clothes, a yoga mat for optimal comfort, wrist protection and yourself no matter your mental or physical state.
Thinking about, and setting a goal is important to deciding which route to take while practicing.
There are many types of yoga to consider. The first, that is most recommended to beginners who are still finding what works for them, is hatha yoga. Hatha yoga does not have much flow to it, instead it is much more gentle. Hatha involves holding poses for a relatively longer amount of time. While practicing hatha yoga it allows the yogi to focus on holding their pose correctly and having proper alignment.
Begin with a basic hatha yoga practice:
Keep in mind to hold each asana for at least three to five breath cycles, or longer if desired.
- Begin in shavasana (corpse pose) by laying with your back flat on the ground. Keep your feet flexed to keep energy in your legs.
- Move into muktasana by bending each of your knees and pulling them to your chest separately. End by bringing both knees together at the same time to your chest and hold.
- Next enter bhujangasana (cobra pose) this will bring you to your stomach with your hands flat on the ground next to your ribs with your elbows pointed up. Then lift your upper back and look ahead.
- With each inhale rise and with each exhale lower.
- Enter balasana (child’s pose) with your knees and feet on the ground and lowering your chest to your knees.
- Transition out of the balasana by lifting onto your knees onto all fours and move into anjaneyasana (low lunge) with your right foot planted on the ground and your left knee still touching the ground. Plant your hands on either side of your right foot.
- Switch sides.
- Next move into tadasana (standing mountain pose) and hold.
- Focus on proper alignment. Have the crown of your head directly above your chest which should also be above the pelvis.
- Move into a virabhadrasana variation (warrior pose) of your choice. With feet planted on the ground, facing the front of your mat with your legs wide, one in front and one in back. The front foot pointed forward and the back foot at an angle. Bend the front knee.
- There are three types of warrior poses: warrior one, warrior two, and peaceful warrior. One with your arms up towards the sky, two with your arms parallel to the ground and peaceful with one arm up and the other on your back leg.
- Switch sides.
- Move into Padottanasana (wide leg forward fold). Have both feet planted on the ground facing forward, face forward and with a flat back move your hands to the ground and hold.
- Come down into Sukhasana (basic seated pose) with your legs crossed. Bend your torso forward toward the ground and hold.
- Raise your torso back up and begin entering ardha matsyendrasana. Lift your right knee and place it over your left then twist by planting your right hand on the ground behind you and moving your left elbow to meet your right knee.
- Switch sides.
- End back in shavasana with your back flat on the ground. Hold for as long as you like.
Along with gentle hatha, there are even more passive forms of yoga. Restorative yoga is extremely passive and will have a yogi holding a position from anywhere between 1-5 minutes. A third form of passive yoga is Yin yoga, this is similar to restorative yoga, while it focuses on holding poses from 3-5 minutes, it is more geared towards aiding connective tissue. Yin yoga is also known for using more props including yoga blocks and bolsters.
These passive forms of yoga allow the yogi to get more in touch with holding poses correctly, promoting relaxation and help for those who are suffering from any physical pain.
If a yogi is looking for a quicker paced practice, there are practices which involve more flow. These can include Ashtanga and Vinyasa Practices. While doing a more flow oriented practice, the yogi will get a greater workout as these practices tone and build strength.
During these practices yogis can also find help in calming their spirit and finding balance. This is because these practices are heavily focused on breathing. Yogis are encouraged to move with their breath through the poses, as one inhales they should change their pose and move to the next with their exhale.
For yogis looking for a more advanced and strenuous workout they can take Vinyasa to the next level with power yoga. Power yoga provides a great workout for those with the desire to sweat. It involves moving through asanas in sequences, just like Vinyasa but moves at a much quicker pace and often incorporates intense movement through more difficult postures.
While a yogi gets something different from each type of yoga they practice, anyone can practice any type of yoga no matter their physical ability. Yoga offers substitutions for anyone struggling with certain postures. If wrist pain occurs during any pose, there are alternate poses to try, for example switching from upward dog to cobra or sphinx. Most yoga teachers will provide multiple poses for their class to try.
For all yoga it is important to keep pranayama in mind. Pranayama is the practice of breath control. This will help the spiritual and anxiety-relieving aspects of yoga. While people are trapped in quarantine, increased anxiety and depression are a fear of many. Practicing controlled breathing are ways to ease stress and anxiety.
Many breathing techniques are helpful to practice even after practice is over to further relaxation and can be adjoined with meditation. For those looking towards yoga as a way to find calm or get in touch with themselves, meditation can be an important addition to yoga practice.
Yogis can practice entering shavasana or sukhasana after their practice and fall into meditation for however long they desire. It can be practiced on its own or practiced through following a guided meditation video of whatever length they desire.
Whether in search of a tough workout or a relaxing practice yoga can serve people in many ways. It’s up to the yogi to determine what they want to gain from their practice. It is a wonderful way to keep you positive and active while stuck indoors. And if a beginner, perhaps gain a new found love for the practice.