Hesitant about taking the plunge and learning yoga?

Fear not, your yoga class probably won't look like what you have in mind.

You might feel stiff at first, but mindful exercise shows great results in no time.

To help achieved this enlightened state, most yoga lessons will be made up of:

  • Relaxation
  • Meditating
  • Extended stretching
  • Breathing exercises

You will see the benefits of all of these in your everyday life too. You don't have to be a professional athlete to start yoga lessons either, enthusiasm and commitment to your practice will get you over the line.

For starters, most yoga instructors or tutors will offer a first session free to get you acquainted with the yoga setup.

Check out yoga class near me to see what we're on about.

What Will Your Yoga Instructor Teach in Your Yoga Class?

Most importantly, understanding the history of yoga and why this practice has become so popular in the west is good to know.

Yoga has been around for a long time in India, dating all the way back to antiquity. The practice originated 5000 years ago as a means to help people improve their quality of life and help them deal with pain and loss. As yoga is so good for achieving mental-physical balance, yoga can help achieve harmony to better deal with difficult times.

One of India's 6 main philosophic systems, yoga is a "darsana", or specific way of perceiving the world.

What's The Meaning of Yoga Though?

It comes from an ancient Sanskrit word, whose root is "yeug-", meaning 'binding or joining". Therefore, it's clear how yoga can join the brain, body, and soul and help you become more in touch with your existence.

Some core principles of yoga are:

  • Yoga sutra
  • Chakra
  • Meditating
  • Relaxing
  • Breath work
Yoga for stress is a tried and true method.
Meditation is just one way yoga alleviates stress. Photo credit: Bindaas Madhavi via Visual Hunt

Yoga classes seek to:

  • Help you be present in the moment
  • Find steady breathing and make you more conscious of your physical self
  • Improve your flexibility
  • Enhance strength and endurance
  • Refine your balance

It brings about a heightened consciousness of body and mind in order to better control your reactions.

You might want to think about talking to your doctor before you start yoga lessons just to see how your health will react to regular yoga practice.

Not every type of yoga suits everyone, so a professional medical opinion is often necessary as yoga teachers often require you to consult with your GP before starting.

Yoga asanas can be very difficult physically.
Some poses demand a lot from you, so check that your doctor approves your practice. Photo credit: Robert Bejil Productions via Visualhunt.com

Start of the Yoga Lesson: Relaxation

The overall goal of yoga is relaxation. It helps us forget about our day and settle into a moment of rest. Just letting go is the most important part, you'll gain confidence as your yoga teacher guides you through the process.

How Will the Yoga Lesson Begin?

Like we say: a moment of relaxation. This is to help calm your thoughts to aid your concentration.

You will be in a pose that facilitates good quality, slow breathing to stretch the diaphragm. You'll have your back straight to enhance this.

Worried about looking odd?

No need, between each yoga class, you'll get more confident in your practice and get to know your classmates. This relationship, as well as that with your teacher will help foster relaxation.

This is crucial as the correct ambiance really enhances your yoga practice.

Get In Touch With Yourself Through Yoga Meditation

Another key component of yoga is meditationBeing mindful of body and mind is crucial if you want to really live in the moment, a life choice that many yogis claim brings numerous benefits to your life.

There will often be a meditation period following the relaxation warmup in your yoga classes.

What Good is This??

You won't get the most of your practice if you don't concentrate. Being warmed up physically is necessary, but so is being mentally ready, facilitating the openness of your awareness to free you from daily stress.

Concentration is a core component of meditation which helps you see the world more clearly and reduce mental clutter.

Thoughts and stresses you've picked up throughout the day can be let go during your yoga practice.

Despite requiring physical exertion, yoga is primarily a mental practice.

Yoga has a grounding effect on thoughts and feelings.

Not all meditation looks the same though. Different techniques have different approaches - object focus for some, self focus in other to help students become enlightened.

Meditation is the time on the mat when yoga practitioners heighten their well-being and reduce stress, forcing them to focus on nothing but the present.

Yoga' meditation benefits include:

  • Reduction of psychosomatic problems
  • Overall health improvement
  • Nervous system relaxation
  • Tension reduction
  • Distances you from your troubles
  • Helps you master your fears
  • Raises self-esteem.

Meditation isn't just this either - it helps you stop critiquing and cluttering your brain. It places emphasis on intuition through engaging with the present and surroundings, putting us in synch with the space around us.

The Flexible and Agile Approach to Sportive Yoga

Things will change pace after relaxation and meditation - the difficulty level will be gradually raised, giving your body time to adapt to the poses bit by bit so you don't feel the difference as much.

Once in a state of serenity, the mind has to reconnect with the physical self, which is achieved through a series of poses.

Yoga improves flexibility.
Asanas, or yoga poses, are a key component of classes and will help increase endurance and flexibiliy. Photo credit: FreetoBreathevsLungCancer via VisualHunt.com

Yoga is highly recommended for those wanting to increase muscle mass  or stretch out particular parts of the anatomy with a view to improved health and well-being.

Some of the main benefits of yoga to physical health are:

  • Joint and spinal chord stretching
  • Alleviate back problems
  • Tone muscle
  • Regulation of organ function (bladder, intestine, liver etc.)
  • Stimulation of  endocrine glands (thyroid and hypophyse)
  • Stimulation of the adrenal glands
  • Purges the organism of toxins
  • Re-oxgenates blood cells
  • Invigorates the antibodies which reinnforce the body’s natural resistance

The poses won't be too difficult at first, but will become more or less complicated dependent on your level. Start gently and do what feels right for your body to reduce the risk of injury.

Having a yoga instructor at hand will help guide you to know what poses should feel like and reduce risk of damage.

Yoga For Diaphragm and Respiratory Work

Following relaxation, meditating, and some more physical poses, your teacher will guide you to your mat for respiratoty work.

Breathing exercises in yoga sessions help bring you back to calmness before leaving.

It may seem obvious at first, but increasing good breath isn't as easy as it sounds. Incorrect respiration can lead to:

  • Overall weakness
  • Poor quality digestion
  • Reduced immune system
  • Poor circulation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Heightened sense of being overwhelmed by stress and emotions

Remember that breath is the physical basis for energy production, so it's fundamental to good health.

Take this example for instance: athletes need time to acclimatise to high altitudes when hiking, so they use oxygen bottles. If the brain doesn't get enough oxygen, it'll slow down, followed by the rest of the organs.

Yoga focuses a lot on diaphragm breathing.
Special exercises in yoga lessons help you breath mindfully and achieve better overall health. Photo credit: WeTravel.com via Visual Hunt

How Can You Improve Your Respiration Though?

The main organ of focus in yoga is the diaphragm, which has to be loosened to increase breath flow, which in turn aids digestion and blood circulation.

In order to reach this stage, the yoga instructor will help you focus on exercising your diaphragm to strengthen it.

Try This Exercise

Often used in schools to calm students down after a break, this trick is very effective. First, breathe deeply, making sure to inflate your stomach, then hold your breath for a few seconds.

Then let the breath out as slowly as possible.

Even professional singers and comedians use this trick to calm down before a big performance.

Breath control also calms the heart rate and subsequently the whole self, which your yoga teacher will try to help you achieve.

Equally important though is bringing balance to your breath, especially important as the respiratory system alternates between right and left nostrils every two hours. A blocked nose can in fact disrupt the breath cycle, leaving the body feeling unbalanced.

Keeping balance is crucial in poor health prevention, as it helps not only with physical ailments, but also mental problems.

This is the perfect way to leave the mat and leave the soul, like the body, in a tranquil state.

Get an idea here of the cost of yoga lessons with our handy guide.

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Nelson