Yoga is one of my favorite ways to stay in shape. It not only improves strength and flexibility but also helps reduce stress. Yoga has so many great benefits and is great for beginners. Although there are more than 100 different types of yoga, they have these main things in common: breathing exercises, meditation, yoga poses that include stretching and flexing.
Yoga for Beginners – Benefits of Yoga
There are many benefits to yoga. Yoga Journal has an article about 38 benefits, but these are the top 5 reasons I do yoga.
1. Improves your flexibility
Improved is probably the most obvious benefit of yoga. In the beginning, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes and some poses will look impossible. Over time, your muscles will gradually loosen, and impossible poses will become possible.
2. Builds muscle strength
At first glance, yoga may not look like a strength-building exercise routine, but you’d be wrong. Yoga helps strengthen nearly every muscle in your body. The stronger you become, the more you can do in your yoga practice and in life.
3. Increases blood flow
One of my favorite things about yoga, especially in the morning is the way it gets my blood flowing. Relaxation poses help blood flow to the hands and feet. Inverted poses help blood flow back toward your heart. According to Yoga Journal,
“Yoga also boosts levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues. And it thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and by cutting the level of clot-promoting proteins in the blood. This can lead to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes since blood clots are often the cause of these killers.”
4. Brightens your mood
Some studies have shown that yoga improves depression by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Meditation in yoga has been correlated to greater levels of happiness, especially in long term practitioners.
5. Helps with focus
Another thing I love about yoga is focusing on being in the present. Some studies have shown that yoga helps memory, improves coordination and has even boosted IQ test scores. Following a yoga flow while using my breath really helps me stay focused.
Yoga for Beginners – Where to Start?
If you are a beginner to yoga, it’s good to take a few beginner classes or watch beginner videos to get a sense of how to do most standard poses. Printable practice sheets show photos of experts who have a lot of flexibility. Always listen to your body. If anything feels like more than a gentle stretch, stop. Always consult your health care provider before trying any exercise. Do what works for you. Breath deeply, take it at your own pace and have fun! Here is a great video to help you get started with some basic poses:
Yoga for Beginners – Sun Salutation
Yoga is a great way to start your day. Even a short practice can help your body wake up and get your metabolism moving. The beginning of many yoga practices includes a sun salutation series. I’ll sometimes do just 1-3 to awaken my body when I first get out of bed. It helps stretch my stiff muscles after a night curled up asleep. This video helps break down the sun salutation. After following this video, it will be easier to use the following printable. You’ll have a better sense of what you can do as a beginner and what a more accomplished yoga practitioner looks like.
Yoga for Beginners – Sun Salutation Printable
The first Sun Salutation printable focuses on flexing and extending the spine. This one is perfect for older participants or before you work up to a full Sun Salutation. The second printable is the full practice. Click here for higher resolution version to print out.
The second printable includes one full sun salutation. Click here for higher resolution.
Yoga for Beginners – Office yoga
If you have a desk job, office yoga is a great way to get you through the day. Taking time to stretch is so important. See if you can enlist a few officemates to join you. Hold each other accountable to be sure you get in this practice at least 3 times a week. This graphic links to a PDF file. It is 4 pages long. If clicking the graphic does not work. Use this link.
Yoga for Beginners – Stepping it Up
As your progress and feel more comfortable with your yoga practice. You may want to challenge yourself to do a bit more. All poses are named so you can look them up to find more detail. If a pose looks way out of your comfort zone, don’t do it. Simply use this practice as a guide and do what works for you. Hip openers like Pigeon Pose can be particularly challenging for beginners. Never do this pose if you have any issues with your hips or knees.
This graphic links to a PDF file. It is 4 pages long. If clicking the graphic does not work. Use this link.
You may start to feel better even after the first time you try practicing yoga. You will notice that the more you commit, the more you benefit. Take a deep breath and GO try yoga!