Summary: Here is a light and easy reading for people interested in getting in to yoga. Alain introduces the basics of yoga and what benefits you get out of a regular practice.

The very basics for beginners

Author: Alain Buffing
Reading Time: 5 minutes

It is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on breathing, flexibility and strength. Consequently yoga supports your mental and physical wellbeing. Yoga consists of various postures and breathing exercises. The practice originates from India from about 5,000 years ago. It has been adapted in other countries in a variety of ways. Today yoga is one of the most popular exercises and relaxation methods and it has become a global phenomenon.

Health benefits:

  • Beneficial for people with heart disease, high blood pressure,
  • Lower back pains and other various body pains
  • Reduces stress and symptoms of depression
  • Improves balance, strengthening body (especially lower body)
  • Increases overall fitness levels
  • Improves flexibility

What style of yoga shall I choose?

There are many different styles of yoga. It is likely that you will find lots of information around you. There are tutorials online, classes in various fitness studios in your neighborhood for different styles. How to choose? It is simple: choose the one that fits your fitness and strength level. Some styles are more strenuous than others. Some have an emphasis on posture or breathing other on relaxation or intensive exercise.

Various styles

A typical class lasts between 45 minutes to 90 minutes. The longer the class is, the more time you will have to get in to the spirit in addition to various relaxation and breathing techniques.

The more common practices:

  • Hatha: a traditional style that includes many different types of yoga methods. Hatha classes are typically the basic sessions of simple postures and breathing exercises.
  • Ashtanga: a sequence of six fairly strenuous poses practiced in a rapid flow. Continue to focus on each inhale and exhale.
  • Bikram: hot yoga with 26 basic yoga postures repeated twice in a heated room. The room temperature is close to 38-40degrees and has around 40-45%  humidity
  • Iyengar: it is a guided practice where the participants are encouraged to express themselves through the poses to their best ability.
  • Restorative: a relaxing style to help you to find balance, calmness and energy.  During the session you will likely to practice only 4-5 different poses.
  • Pre-, and postnatal: first of all the postures are adapted to the needs of pregnant moms-to-be. Therefore this yoga helps women in all stages of pregnancy and recovery after birth.
  • Yin: A long, quiet flow of meditative poses. Yin yoga helps you to lengthen your connective tissues as well as to relax muscles.

The more traditional practices:

  • Vinyasa / Power: an athletic and energetic style that derives from the traditional ashtanga. The poses differ from teacher to teacher, and studio to studio. What they all have common is the base. Vinyasa can be very different but in general stem from from ashtanga.
  • Sivananda: the focus of this style goes beyond exercise and breathing. It encourages the participants to consider relaxation, proper breathing and diet, and positive thinking in the practice. In conclusion it is a less dynamic style that is slow and contains 12 basic poses.
  • Kripalu: 3-part practice that helps you to explore the limits of your body and to get to know your capabilities better.  This style supports deep poses, continuous learning and adaptation to your own body.
  • Viniyoga: an individualized practice where you adapt the poses to your own abilities and limits. Instead of focusing on stretching your body, at viniyoga you warm up and contract your muscles first. Afterwards you start working on stretching them.