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You will also learn about the many benefits of yoga and how to incorporate this versatile activity into your lifestyle. What is Yoga? Yoga focuses on improving your physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The goal of yoga is to harmonize your body, mind and spirit through a combination of poses, meditation and breathing exercises.

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Unifying your body, mind and spirit allows you to achieve a sense of wholeness, peace and self-realization.

In addition to achieving inner peace, practicing yoga has many physical and mental benefits. For example, the physical exercise involved in yoga can increase your strength and flexibility.

Yoga is also a very effective tool for relieving stress, calming your mind and allowing you to achieve complete physical and mental relaxation.

Achieving this union allows you to connect with your inner self, leading to a sense of contentment and tranquility. Who can practice Yoga? Many yoga poses can be modified for people of all different levels of fitness and flexibility, even for people with temporary or chronic physical problems. The primary goal of yoga is to unite the mind, body and spirit. This union can improve your overall mental and physical well-being.

Practicing yoga encourages personal reflection and introspection, helping you to release any anxiety, hostility or depression you may be feeling. The peace and relaxation that yoga offers improves your mood, which in turn improves your overall well-being.

Yoga also serves as an effective tool to help improve your mental functioning. For example, you can enhance your memory and ability to concentrate through the practice of yoga. Many yoga poses can also improve your hand-eye coordination, reaction time, dexterity and fine motor skills. Stress Relief One of the most recognized benefits of yoga is stress reduction. The practice of yoga poses, meditation and breathing exercises are all clinically proven methods of relieving stress.

Practicing yoga can help relieve stress by clearing your mind and bringing your attention to the present moment.

Relieving stress can have a positive effect on your health, especially since medical practitioners consider stress to be the cause of many illnesses. Yoga is an individual practice, which allows you to only focus on your own capabilities without comparing yourself to others.

You can also improve your posture through the practice of yoga, which allows you to stand, sit and walk with confidence. Yoga can also make you feel more mentally alert, centered and content. Many yoga poses can also release tension and soreness in your muscles. Practicing yoga can even help you prevent illness and injury by improving your immune system and teaching you to treat your body well.

As a result, yoga can serve as preventative therapy to help you not only improve, but also maintain your health. Improved Breathing The practice of yoga improves your breathing by heightening your awareness of your breath and increasing your lung capacity. By focusing on deep breathing in your yoga practice, you can help to release tension from your body and make your body more alkaline and less acidic.

Too much acidity in your body can be harmful for your bones and tissues, and can also cause arthritis, fatigue, headaches and depression. Improved Circulation Many yoga poses help to improve the circulation of blood throughout your body. Improved blood circulation helps flush out toxins and impurities from your body. Regular practice of yoga can also help lower your blood pressure and pulse rate. Improved Strength and Flexibility One of the most noticeable effects of yoga is that it can make your body strong and flexible, while improving the range of motion in your joints.

The practice of yoga can also improve your balance, tone your muscles and increase your stamina.

Some yoga poses can also help you build strong bones, which helps to prevent osteoporosis. Additional Benefits Yoga also provides a whole host of other health benefits. Through the practice of yoga, you can regulate your metabolism, which can help you lose weight. Yoga also helps to balance your hormonal system, which is especially useful for menopausal and pre-menopausal women. In addition, the movement in some yoga poses massages the internal organs of the body, which improves certain bodily functions, such as digestion and elimination.

Wearing flexible clothing is the best option, such as a leotard, leggings or bicycle shorts, because your clothing will not move or get in your way. You can also wear a T-shirt and gym shorts if you feel more comfortable. You may want to layer your clothing so you can take layers off as you warm up and put layers back on as you cool down.

Maran Illustrated Yoga

Yoga is best practiced barefoot. When you are barefoot, you are better able to feel the floor beneath your feet. Wearing socks may cause you to slip.

A yoga mat is also made of material that is the appropriate texture. If you practice on a surface that is too soft, such as carpet, you may find it difficult to balance or position yourself correctly. If you try to practice on a hard surface, such as hardwood, some poses may be too uncomfortable for your hands, knees or feet.

The yoga strap is a useful aid when you cannot reach a part of your body with your hands. If you do not have a yoga strap, you can use any soft cloth or belt, such as a bathrobe belt.

Chair Blankets Keep a few large wool or cotton blankets nearby when practicing yoga. A folded blanket can protect your knees when kneeling.

You can also use folded blankets to provide support for your body, such as placing a blanket under your head in a lying pose. You should use an armless chair for seated chair poses. Walls are particularly helpful for poses such as standing balancing poses. Blocks Blocks are usually 4 x 6 x 9 inches in size and made of either foam or wood.

For your yoga practice, you will most likely find two blocks useful. If you do not have a block, you can create your own block by wrapping a hardcover book with tape. Blocks are helpful when your hands cannot reach down to the floor, such as in a standing twist. You can place any end of the block on the floor to achieve the height you need, but make sure the block is steady.


Do not clutch the block, but only rest your hand on it to keep your balance. Bolsters are cylindrical or rectangular pillows that measure approximately 8 inches high and 26 inches long. They are usually covered with canvas or cotton and stuffed with cotton batting to make them firm.

Bolsters are useful if you need a firm surface to prop up or rest your body on. If you do not have a bolster, you can roll up a blanket, stack folded blankets or use a firm sofa or bed pillow.

Eye Bag An eye bag is a small cloth bag usually filled with flax seeds. Covering your eyes with an eye bag during a relaxation pose helps relax your eyes and face and block the light. If you do not have an eye bag, use a folded washcloth or silk scarf as a substitute.

Once you create a yoga environment, you can begin practicing yoga with the aid of books, What time of day should I practice yoga? You may want to practice yoga with a qualified yoga teacher to ensure that you understand the basics before practicing on your own. Should I be concerned about the air quality? You can practice yoga at any time in the day when you feel you need to. Performing an active yoga practice in the morning can energize your mind and body, which can help set the tone for how you feel the rest of the day.

You may want to perform a less active practice in the evening to help calm your mind and body after a long day and prepare yourself for sleep. Try to set a specific time each day, or as often in the week as possible, to practice yoga so your practice will become a habit.

If possible, you should open a window to allow fresh air to come in. Fresh air is especially beneficial for your breathing, which is integral to yoga. Also, make sure the air is not polluted with burning incense, smoke or any other type of air pollution. How else should I prepare my yoga environment?

Where should I practice? When practicing at home, you should create an area specifically for yoga and meditation. Make sure there is plenty of sunlight and that the area is clean and tidy. Also, make sure you do not have any distractions while you practice yoga.

This preparation prevents you from having to run around the house looking for a different prop before you perform each pose. You may want to take at least a few classes with a qualified yoga teacher before practicing completely on your own. Do I want the class to take place at a yoga center, yoga studio, fitness club or private home? How much time do I have to devote to going to a yoga class? How much money do I want to spend on a yoga class? If you are a beginner, make sure you sign up for a beginner yoga class.

Questions to Ask a Yoga Teacher What yoga training do you have? Yoga teachers can be certified by certain schools of yoga where the training can vary from one week to a few years. What yoga experience do you have? Although a teacher may not be certified, he or she may have many valuable years of teaching experience.

Are you able to accommodate any physical limitations that I have? Word of mouth is the most common way to find a yoga class. You can also look in the Yellow Pages, online resources and in natural food stores for business cards or flyers. Your local community center or fitness club may also offer yoga classes.

If your problems are serious, you should consult your doctor before practicing yoga. Many courses are offered in sessions, often in the fall, winter and spring.

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Some locations offer drop-in classes, which are useful if you want to try a class without having to sign up for an entire session. Common methods of relaxing, such as watching television or chatting with friends, serve more as a distraction than a means of achieving complete relaxation.

Yoga teaches your body and mind to relax completely by consciously releasing both physical and mental tension. You can achieve this relaxation through the practice of yoga poses, breath awareness and relaxation techniques.

In fact, relaxation is so important in yoga that a portion of every practice should be entirely devoted to relaxation. As you stretch and move your body in a yoga practice, you can release tension from your muscles, allowing them to relax. Yoga allows you to connect with your body and become aware of any tension that may be present. Through your yoga practice, you can focus on relaxing any areas that may require attention. Mental Relaxation Yoga provides you with an opportunity to set aside time each day to allow your mind to relax and unwind.

By taking time each day to practice yoga, you can help prevent your mind from becoming overwhelmed and fatigued. The practice of breath awareness is especially useful for relaxing your mind. For more information on breath awareness, see pages 34 to Spiritual Relaxation Once you achieve physical and mental relaxation, spiritual relaxation is also possible.

Spiritual relaxation brings a feeling of inner peace and contentment. This type of relaxation also promotes a sense of inner awareness, which can help put you in touch with yourself and those around you.

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If you do not give yourself time to relax on a regular basis, your body and mind can become worn out and overwhelmed. Relaxation is the most natural and effective way to soothe and revitalize your mind.

Through relaxation, you will become more in touch with your body, enabling you to recognize and overcome any tension in your body more easily. You can work with a partner or use a recording of your own voice or another voice reading a relaxation script. You can also download guided imagery and guided relaxation audio recordings.

To prepare for guided imagery or guided relaxation, you should make sure your environment is quiet and free from distractions. Begin in Relaxation Pose, as shown on page , and place an eye bag or folded face cloth over your eyes. During guided imagery or guided relaxation, your mind and body work together to help you achieve a state of deep relaxation.

Yoga Nidra Yoga Nidra is a powerful relaxation technique where you remain aware and conscious as you move into a state of deep relaxation.If you choose to adopt yoga as part of your lifestyle, you can improve your physical, mental and spiritual well-being. To warm up your body and move deeper into the twist, you can twist and release your upper body several times before you hold the pose. Instead, move slowly in and out of the poses so that you feel comfortable at all times.

Through your yoga practice, you can focus on relaxing any areas that may require attention. Meditation provides you with an opportunity to sit still, clear your mind of all thoughts and fully relax your body.

Yoga Basics can work with you to make sure you are doing poses correctly and safely.

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