Information for Beginners

What is Hatha Yoga?

The word yoga is usually translated as unity or oneness. The aim of yoga is to achieve unity of mind, body and breath. There are a number of types of yoga. Hatha (pronounced hat-ha) Yoga, which is the form best known in the west, is the physical branch of Raja Yoga (the yoga of meditation). It is commonly practised simply for the physical and mental benefits it generates. If a specific teaching system is used this is indicated by a name for example Iyengar, Astanga Vinyasa or Viniyoga. Hatha Yoga consists of:

  • Yogasana
  • Pranayama
  • Relaxation

Yogasana (yoga postures)

Yoga postures are strengthening and develop flexibility and body awareness. Every part of the body is exercised. The joints are taken through their full range of motion and the muscles supporting them are fully conditioned. Yogasana also exercise the internal organs, glands and nervous system.

However in our posture work it is not what we do but how we do it that is important. There is no such thing as right or wrong, success or failure in yoga only ever more intelligent, wholesome ways of doing things. Our aim is not to achieve some idealised shape. There is no benefit to be gained from forcing our body into a position. In our practice we are constantly refining our understanding of what a particular posture really is and how the body works.

Pranayama (breathing practice)

Breathing is a vital activity. We can live for weeks without food, days without water but only a few minutes without oxygen. Yogic breathing is deep, rhythmic breathing via the nose. It has a positive effect on all the body systems, the mind and the emotions.

Relaxation

Relaxation techniques release tension from all parts of the body, develop awareness and bring us into the present.

Yoga is for Everyone

Yoga is suitable for everyone regardless of age, physical condition or sex. However it is important when practising yoga that you listen to your body and that you never force or strain beyond your limitations.

If you have any medical condition or long term injury please consult your doctor before you start to practise yoga and take heed of any instructions or warnings that they give you.

When you attend your first class the teacher will ask you some questions about your health. This is essential so that they can be aware of any problems that you have and so ensure that you do not do any unsuitable asana or breathing exercises. At subsequent lessons advise the teacher of any new injuries or illness before the class begins.

Remember – Only you know how your body feels. If when you are practising yoga you have any pain or distress stop immediately and advise the teacher.

The benefits of yoga

"Grace, beauty, strength, energy and firmness adorn the body through Yoga." Yoga Sutra III.47 Yoga. The Iyengar Way. Silva Mehta et al.

Whe practised with awareness yoga keeps the muscles, joints, skeleton and internal structures and nerves of the body healthy. It can also delay or prevent the onset of disorders such as arthritis and osteoporosis and may even reverse the condition.

Yoga is an excellent means of dealing with the stress of modern life. It promotes positive thinking and increased clarity and concentration.

The yoga class

Before the class

  • A warm bath can be beneficial especially if you are feeling stiff.
  • Do not eat a meal in the preceding 1.5 hours.
  • Go to the toilet.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes.
  • Remove jewellery and wrist watches which may catch in clothing or cause discomfort.

What you will need

  • A non-slip yoga mat
  • A blanket
  • Sweatshirt and socks to put on during relaxation

Format of the class

  • Limbering
  • Asana
  • Pranayama
  • Relaxation

What are you waiting for?

Come along and try yoga for yourself!
Beginners can join any class but I would recommend that you start with my 6 week course specifically for beginners. The course will provide you with a good foundation for an enjoyable, rewarding and safe yoga practice. See the box on the right for the start date of the next course.

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