Because so many of you enjoyed the yoga we did on the 7th, I wanted to give you some information on Teen Yoga from kidshealth.org. Also if you are on Facebook, be sure to "friend" Teen Yoga for yoga updates, information, and classes near you. Here are some of the basics to know before you get started:
Are you looking for a workout program that's easy to learn, requires little or no equipment, and soothes your soul while toning your body? If strengthening your cardiovascular system, toning and stretching your muscles, and improving your mental fitness are on your to-do list, keep reading to learn more about the basics of yoga.
What Is Yoga?
It seems like a hot new trend, but yoga actually began more than 3,000 years ago in India. The word yoga is Sanskrit (one of the ancient languages of the East). It means to "yoke," or unite, the mind, body, and spirit.
Although yoga includes physical exercise, it is also a lifestyle practice for which exercise is just one component. Training your mind, body, and breath, as well as connecting with your spirituality, are the main goals of the yoga lifestyle.
The physical part of the yoga lifestyle is called hatha yoga. Hatha yoga focuses on asanas, or poses. A person who practices yoga goes through a series of specific poses while controlling his or her breathing. Some types of yoga also involve meditation and chanting.
There are many different types of hatha yoga, including:
Ashtanga yoga: Ashtanga yoga is a vigorous, fast-paced form of yoga that helps to build flexibility, strength, concentration, and stamina. When doing Ashtanga yoga, a person moves quickly through a set of predetermined poses while remaining focused on deep breathing.
Bikram yoga: Bikram yoga is also known as "hot yoga." It is practiced in rooms that may be heated to more than 100° Fahrenheit (37.8° Celsius) and focuses on stamina and purification.
Gentle yoga: Gentle yoga focuses on slow stretches, flexibility, and deep breathing.
Kundalini yoga: Kundalini yoga uses different poses, breathing techniques, chanting, and meditation to awaken life energy.
Iyengar yoga: This type of yoga focuses on precise alignment of the poses. Participants use "props" like blankets, straps, mats, blocks, and chairs.
Restorative yoga: This practice allows the body to fully relax by holding simple postures passively for extended periods of time.
Vinyasa/power yoga: Similar to Ashtanga yoga, these are also very active forms of yoga that improve strength, flexibility, and stamina. This type of yoga is popular in the United States.
Yoga has tons of benefits. It can improve flexibility, strength, balance, and stamina. In addition, many people who practice yoga say that it reduces anxiety and stress, improves mental clarity, and even helps them sleep better.
Many gyms, community centers, and YMCAs offer yoga classes. Your neighborhood may also have a specialized yoga studio. Some yoga instructors offer private or semi-private classes for students who want more personalized training.
Before taking a class, check whether the instructor is registered with the Yoga Alliance, a certification that requires at least 200 hours of training in yoga techniques and teaching. You may also want to sit in and observe the class that interests you.
You could also try using a yoga DVD. Websites, DVDs, and books can't compare to learning yoga poses from a teacher, but they can help you find out more. They can be especially helpful if you have already taken yoga classes and want to practice at home.
Dress comfortably for your first yoga session in clothing that allows you to move your body fully. Stretchy shorts or pants and a T-shirt or tank top are best. Yoga is practiced barefoot, so you don't have to worry about special shoes.
If you're doing your yoga workout on a carpeted floor, you probably don't need any equipment, although many people like to use a yoga mat or "sticky" mat. This special type of mat provides cushioning and grip while you do your poses. You can buy yoga mats in sporting goods stores or often at the yoga class location.
What can you expect at a yoga class or when you watch a yoga video? To begin the class, the instructor may lead you through a series of poses like
Sun Salutations to warm up your arms, legs, and spine. After that, you'll concentrate on specific poses that work different areas of your body. Most yoga sessions end with some type of relaxation exercise.
Before you begin any type of exercise program, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor, especially if you have a health problem. Be sure to let your instructor know about any orthopedic problems or special needs you may have before the class begins. A good instructor will be able to provide modified poses for students who are just beginning or who have special needs.