Thursday, March 22, 2007

Yoga for Beginners - Like Me!!!

When I was about to enroll in yoga, I logged on to the web to find out what's in store for beginners like me. I even went to Times Bookstore to read up on yoga books, which was aplenty!

I'd like to share my own experience and hopefully encourage yoga beginners out there. Nothing to worry about and everyone who's anyone can join yoga. Whatever age or sex, we're all fit for it.

There are different types of yoga, and what's mind boggling for beginners is "which one is for me?" As I read thru the different types, I got confused (and even intimidated!) I wasn't sure which one is which, plus the terms they used added to the confusion.

Luckily after discussing with some fellow beginners (in the locker room) and some tips from the sales person who signed me up for YogaZone, I finally tried out a few of the yoga types and quite enjoyed it!

The very first class I joined was called HATHA 1. It's recommended for beginners and intermediate practioners. I took the explanation from the yogazone site for your better appreciation...

"Hatha 1
Hatha Yoga favours correct alignment, this enables one to practise safely and to obtain the full benefits of the postures. Typically, each asana is held a period long enough to ensure it is understood thoughly; also allowing for gradual lengthening and strengthening of muscles and connective tissue involved. Ha means "sun" and tha means "moon," hence commonly translated as the yoga that brings union "of the pairs of opposites." It is the basis for all other styles of physical yoga, it prepares the body and mind for the more sublte practises of pranayama and meditation. On a physical level It aims to increase practitioners’ core strength, coordination, balance, flexibility, flow, concentration and endurance and help them heal old injuries as well as prevent new ones.

About 50 basic postures and breathing techniques introduced gradually in a step-by-step manner."

As for my own explanation of Hatha 1 : it consist of different poses (some quite challenging!) yet not too difficult for a beginner.They also teach you how to concentrate on your breathing while staying in a pose. The end part is quite relaxing as you lie down the mat and close your eyes. I almost fell asleep!!!

The other class I joined is called Element. This is suggested for beginners, though I actually found it more difficult than Hatha 1. The poses are more challenging and there were many points where it worked the upper arms (good for the muscles!). I actually struggled a bit on certain poses where we held our weight thru our feet and both arms on the mat. But maybe it's because I don't have a strong upper arm muscle. Anyway, it was still a good experience because it will tone your muscle to create a great look when you wear your sleeveless tops!

Ideal for first timers to yoga. An introduction to the fundamentals of asana practise, the basic postures combined with correct alignment and breathing technique. Class is conducted at a more relaxed pace where students are encouraged to ask questions. "

I wanted to take it a step further so I tried joining the "Yin" class which is meant for Intermediate yoga practitioners. No regrets definitely. Most of the poses were difficult and you hold on to the poses longer. That means less variety of poses to do, but you need to hold on to those poses longer. It's challenging in a sense that your legs sore after a long pause in that position, but you won't find yourself off-balance or feeling silly. Especially if you have an encouraging teacher, you will find that for beginners like you and me, Yin is quite okay.

Yin Yoga
Suitable for all practitioners. Yin Yoga complements practice of other yoga classes. While a strong physical body is important, ultimately, it is not muscular strength but flexibility of our joints that gives us the sense of ease and lightness in the body. Yin postures explore the body’s subtle energies, help lengthen the body’s deep connective tissues (tendon and ligament), especially at the pelvic and lower spine, as well as correct any anatomical misalignment, ensuring joint integrity. "

Overall, yoga is a fun escape from my usual gym routine. Life is short -- so go out and try something new for a change!

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