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How To Target Your Stomach With Yoga

Yoga is a great part of any wellness routine, as it has the ability to both reduce stress and exercise the body. If you are trying to use yoga to target your midsection, well, that can be done. There are a number of yoga positions (called asanas) which exercise the stomach muscles. Bear in mind that some of these are more advanced than other. Assess your own skill and comfort level before trying certain asanas. If you are not sure you are able to do one asana, start with one that seems easier and work your way up once you have belt some strength and flexibility. As with any workout routine, be sure to consult a professional before beginning and always warm up properly to avoid injury.

 

Pavan-Muktasan

To perform this stomach-exercising asana, first lie flat on your back. Use a yoga mat of towel to cushion the spine. Bend both knees up to your chest so that your thigh touches the stomach. Hug your knees in place and lock your fingers. Now lift your head up so your nose meets your knees. Take a deep breath and hold it for thirty seconds before releasing and slowly lowering back to start. This exercise can also be done one leg at a time.

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Bhujangasan

For this stomach exercise, remain on the floor, but roll over on to your stomach. Position your hand under your shoulders. Now, using your back muscles, raise your upper torso off the ground to that your head is upright. Be careful not to push with your hands. You want the muscles in your back to be doing the work. Hold this posture for thirty seconds, then lower yourself back to start. Even though you are using your back muscles to lift your upper body, performing the asana will assist in reducing belly fat and flattening your tummy.

 

The Bow

This stomach exercise is pretty similar to the previous asana, but more involved. It starts from the same position lying on your stomach, but in this exercise you curl your legs upward in addition to lifting your upper torso. Bend your knees so that the soles of your feet come up toward your head. Grab your ankles and pull with your hands and push with your legs until only your stomach is on the floor. Your body should feel sort of like it is making a circle. Your knees should remain together throughout the exercise. Hold this position for thirty seconds before releasing and returning to starting position.

Paad-Pashchimottanasan

Now that you have read the name of this asana, try not to be intimidated– it is less complicated in practice than in pronunciation. It does, however, require a fair amount of flexibility, so you may want to start with something easier and build up to this one. Start by lying on your back with your legs straight and arms overhead. Your body should be straight from head to toe with all limbs extended. Point your palms up to the ceiling and put your hands together. Contract your stomach muscles to sit up, keeping your back straight and hands overhead. Bend forward and grab your toes with your hands, putting your head between your arms so it touches your knees. Hold the position for two minutes before releasing.

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Beginners Guide To Yoga *FREE DOWNLOAD*

What to Expect When Starting a Yoga Routine



Yoga. We’ve all heard the word and seen the mats everyone seems to carry around with them these days. But can yoga really help improve your health and fitness levels? The answer is yes, definitely – provided that you start safely and sensibly and know what to expect.

 

Why Yoga?

Yoga can help you get fit quickly and safely because it uses the weight of your body to tone and trim. It is low impact, and good for people of all ages and body types who want to build their strength and stay fix and flexible.

 

You’re Never too Old for Yoga

Yoga is ideal even for seniors because it can improve range of motion, balance and stability. It also relieves stiffness. The long lean muscle built through yoga can protect bones and aging joints in order to keep you mobile and injury-free. Those muscles can also help boost your metabolism so you will burn more calories, which is ideal if you wish to lose weight.

 

Thousands of Years of Proof That It Works

Yoga has been used for thousands of years for health, healing and fitness. It may seem weird or “New Age” to us in the West, but the truth is that Hatha yoga has been practiced for thousands of years in the Far East.

The health benefits of a regular yoga practice include increased:

* Concentration
* Strength
* Flexibility
* Long, lean muscle
* Stamina

Yoga will decrease:

* Anxiety
* Stress
* Tension
* Blood pressure
* Stiffness

 

Safety First

Before you start to twist yourself into a pretzel, it is important to put safety first. If you have any underlying health issues, check with your doctor before starting yoga. Choose a yoga that is low impact, such as Hatha, Kundalini or Vinyasa, compared to the more demanding forms such as Bikram (hot yoga) or Ashtanga.

Be aware of any old or recent injuries and protect your back and knees. Start with yoga poses that can work your core muscles, such as Mountain, Tree, and the Warrior series of poses, and Plank pose. A good set of abdominal and back muscles will give your practice stability and help keep you safe.

Don’t believe the myth of “no pain, no gain” in reference to yoga. That is the surest way to sideline yourself with a potentially serious injury. After a workout, it is natural to feel a little sore the next day, but if this persists, rest those muscles until the strain in healed.

Practice on a level surface and use a non-skid mat so you do not slip. It will cushion your joints as well when doing your poses. Warm up before and cool down after with some gentle stretching. Stay warm but not too hot. Cold muscles will tense can be injured more easily.

If you are using a DVD, work at your own pace. Pause it as needed. If you are confused, look up the poses online at a reliable site like Yoga Journal.

Enjoy your meditations. Think of them as a mini-break from your daily life even if some of them seem weird. Chanting mantras such as OM might also seem a bit odd, but you will soon notice your body, mind and spirit all becoming in tune with each other.

Don’t skip deep relaxation at the end. This is usually done lying down in Corpse pose and is a great way to de-stress.

Now that you know what to expect, start a daily yoga practice and see what a difference it can make to your health.

 

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Vinyasa Yoga 101



Yoga means union, the union of mind, body and spirit. There are a number of yogas to choose from. The best yogas will combine all three. However, many modern yogas focus mainly on the poses, or asanas, and tend to not focus as much on the meditation and breath work which are an essential part of Hatha yoga, the oldest form of yoga.

 

What Is Vinyasa Yoga?

Vinyasa is also known as flow yoga. The word vinyasa means to place in a special way. It uses the same asanas as Hatha yoga. However, rather than each asana being done individually with a pause in between, the poses are organized into sequences whereby the body is in constant motion as it moves smoothly from one pose to the next.

The word vinyasa can also mean “breath-synchronized movement,” with the asanas being performed, held, and changed in conjunction with inhale and exhale patterns and a number of breaths being counted.

The most prominent teacher of vinyasa was K. Pattabhi Jois, who founded his own yoga institute in India in 1948 and helped popularize yoga throughout the world.

 

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Vinyasa flow yoga belongs to the ancient practice of Ashtanga yoga. It is also known as Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga. Ashtanga is a Sanskrit term which means “eight-limbed,” referring to a 2,000-year-old book about yoga which stated that the practice of yoga, or union, involves eight limbs, or arms and legs, to support it.

Two of the eight limbs are asana and pranayama, that is, poses and breathing. Pranayama is a combination of two words, prana (life-force energy) and ayama (to move or regulate). Through controlling our breathing, therefore, we can regulate our energy and use it to achieve our goals in life. We can also use it for health and healing. Yoga is part of Ayurvedic, that is, traditional Indian medicine that has been used for centuries to bring the body back into balance.

 

Yoga for All

The beauty of Vinyasa flow yoga is that it can be practiced by people of any age and ability. The main trick is to learn the postures first, to then be able to move smoothly from one to the next.

Vinyasa is low-impact compared to Ashtanga, which is a good deal more strenuous and has seven levels (one beginner, two intermediate and four advanced). With Vinyasa, you need focus and concentration as you move from one posture to the next and then hold it for a certain number of breaths before moving on to the next asana. However, it is not high impact.

Different forms of breathing are used, though there is not as much pranayama and meditation compared with Hatha or Kundalini yoga, which are both also good for those new to yoga.

Due to its continuous movement, you have no time to get bored, plus Vinyasa has many beneficial physical effects such as improved circulation, digestion, flexibility and mental abilities such as concentration. It relieves stiffness and lowers blood pressure, while reducing stress and improving mood.

Vinyasa will give you more energy and offer relief from depression and anxiety. It can also improve your social skills as you attended classes and work with your teacher to improve your postures and flow.

If you are looking for an interesting and fun form of yoga, see if there is a Vinyasa or flow yoga studio near you, and see what a difference yoga can make to your mind, body and spirit.

 

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Hatha Yoga 101



There are a number of different kinds of yoga – some ancient, and some modern inventions which emphasize different aspect of yoga.

What Is Hatha Yoga?

Yoga means union; the union of mind, body and spirit. Hatha is the most traditional of the yogas and has been practiced for thousands of years in India and the Far East.

The name Hatha means willful or forceful. The word is also a combination of hat (sun) and ha (moon). It works with the energy centers of the body, flesh and bone. The main focus is on surrendering to and perfecting the many poses, and using yoga for health, healing and personal transformation.

Hatha yoga is part of traditional Ayurvedic, that is, Indian medicine. In traditional Eastern forms of medicine, doctors treat not just the physical body but the energy body, also called the subtle body. It is thought to be comprised of channels, loops, meridians and chakras – that is, energy centers in the body.

If a surgeon cut you open, they wouldn’t see the chakras, but Hatha posits that they are there and balance the energy for healing purposes and overall wellbeing. Chinese acupuncture and acupressure, Reiki, Shiatsu and other healing modalities also work on the theory of balance and stimulating the energy in the body.

Hatha Poses

Many modern types of yoga focus mainly on the poses, or asanas, the physical side of yoga. Hatha yoga aspires to create balance in all things. There are different levels of poses, and therefore different classes and DVDs you can try.

 

Improved Concentration

Hatha improves mental concentration through meditation, chanting mantras like OM, and to some extent, breath work. With breath work, you learn how to breathe in different patterns with different purposes, such as a cooling breath or a heating breath that increases energy.

 

At One with the Breath

The Sanskrit word for breath work is pranayama. Prana means life-force, ayama to regulate or lengthen. In other words, practicing pranayama can improve one’s health and vitality through the breath. The breath work is very useful for eliminating toxins from the body and improving the immune system.

 

A Union of Body, Mind and Spirit

Yoga is not just about the body beautiful. It is considered to be a way of connecting with our inner selves so we can open up to connecting with others. This can be achieved through meditation. Meditation can also include breath work and chanting.

 

The Benefits of Hatha

Hatha has been shown to offer increased energy, less stress, better moods and sleep, and decreased anxiety. It lowers blood pressure and can help you lose weight more easily by boosting your metabolism.

 

Who Can Practice It?

Hatha is ideal for people of all ages because it is low impact and you can work at a safe and sensible pace. Even those with health issues can benefit from Hatha yoga. When done carefully with the help of expert guidance, Hatha can help relieve back, joint and muscle pain. The pranayama can help with allergies, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, or COPD.

Meditation helps improve focus, concentration and memory, all ideal for seniors who want to maintain a busy, active lifestyle no matter what their age.

With all of these benefits, now might be the best time to check out your local yoga studios to see which of them offer Hatha. Try an introductory class and see what a difference Hatha yoga can make to your health.

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Kundalini Yoga 101



Yoga is not just a form of exercise. It is known to revitalize your body, mind and spirit as well. The word yoga means union, and the best forms of yoga are those which allow you to improve all three. Hatha yoga is the oldest of the yoga forms, dating back to 1,500 BC. Kundalini is slightly more modern than that, having been developed in India in the 5th century AD and practiced as part of Tantric Buddhism.

 

What Is Tantra?

Tantra means union, that is, union of mind, body and spirit. Instead of living in a cave and starving in order to make spiritual progress, Tantric Buddhists incorporate all aspects of life into their spiritual path to perfection. You don’t need to be a Buddhist to practice Kundalini yoga, since yoga is not a part of any religion. Yoga is however a cornerstone of traditional Indian medicine, known as Ayurvedic medicine.

 

Yoga as Healing

Kundalini yoga was brought to the West in the late 1960’s by Yogi Bhajan, a Sikh from India, who also founded the Yogi tea brand. He set up teaching centers as part of the Happy, Healthy Holy Organization (3HO).

Kundalini yoga focuses on awakening your power within through two means, physical movement and mental improvement. You can develop strength and power in all aspects of your life and use this power to achieve both your worldly goals and your higher self.

The word Kundalini means coiled. It refers to two things. The first is a form of vital life energy thought by Ayurvedic practitioners to be coiled around the base of the spine. By moving this energy through your body and harnessing whenever you wish, you can release your full potential of body, mind and spirit – the second meaning of Kundalini.

 

Why Kundalini Yoga Is Different

Kundalini uses poses and breath work in a range of ways. Rather than being done individually for their own sake, they are put into sets known as kriyas which are designed to accomplish certain goals. These goals can range from boosting your energy and strengthening your immune system, to weight loss and lowering stress. Some of the poses are special and used only in Kundalini yoga.

In addition to the poses, Kundalini uses special breath work, including one called Breath of Fire – rapid breathing in and out through the nose in the same way a dog would pant through its mouth. The pattern is supposed to awaken the energy in the spine and move it upwards so it can be used in a range of ways. It also gives the abs a great workout.

Kundalini works on the individual chakras of the body as well, to balance them. The word chakra means vortex; the energy is pictured as spinning like a plate from the front of our body to our back.

There are seven chakras, each related to a certain form of energy. For example, the heart chakra at the center of our chest is said to control our love and relationships. A blocked or imbalanced chakra can lead to disharmony and poor health. An open and balanced one can lead to happier relationships.

Kundalini is also different because of the mantras and chanting. If you love to sing, this is the right yoga for you.

This form of yoga can be done by people of all ages and physical conditions. There are no levels so you can benefit from any class you attend. If you are feeling “stuck” in certain parts of your life, see if there is a Kundalini studio near you and try it out to see what a difference it can make in your life.

 

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Iyengar Yoga 101



There are many different forms of yoga, some ancient, some modern, and often a combination of the two.

 

The Principles of Iyengar

Iyengar yoga is a form of Hatha yoga. This school of yoga was founded by B. K. S. Iyengar in the 1970s in India. It uses Hatha poses, but with an emphasis on detail, precision and perfect alignment in the performance of asanas (poses) and breath work. In this way, the student will develop strength, mobility and stability through all of the poses they work on.

 

Who Was Iyengar?

Before his death in 2014 at the age of 95, Iyengar was said to have perfected approximately 200 Hatha yoga poses. This is a small number of the many that are available in Hatha, but if you enjoy seeking perfection in all you do, this could be the right yoga for you.

Iyengar taught yoga for more than 70 years and was the author of 40 books, including Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika. It is considered to be a definitive work on the power of yoga and its philosophy.

His impact on popularizing yoga in the West led Time magazine to name Iyengar as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2004. He was awarded three of the four top honors for civilians in India in 1991, for positively affecting so many lives through yoga. Iyengar taught many celebrities around the world yoga, including the world-renowned violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, helping to make it more fashionable in the West.

 

Yoga for Healing

Iyengar did not just teach yoga as a physical exercise, but as a treatment and even cure for illness as part of a holistic practice, known in India as Ayurvedic medicine. He also taught about the spirituality of yoga, thus caring for his students in terms of body, mind and spirit.

Yoga is not just about what you do when you are on your mat, but about the eight limbs of yoga, which include physical work, breath work, and meditation. He illustrated the asanas he perfected in this works. He also went into great detail about breath work, cleanliness, times of the day to practice, what to eat and when, and so on. If you enjoy discipline and routine, you will also enjoy Iyengar.

 

A Detailed Yoga Program for Life

As with all Hatha yoga, there are different levels. Beginners start out with easy poses and then work their way up to more challenging ones. The proper technique is emphasized with each pose and the instructions given for each.

As with Hatha, there are also a number of breathing techniques to learn depending on what effects you wish to achieve in the body, such as boosting energy or getting rid of toxins from the body.

For those who wish to study on their own rather than attend class all the time, his book Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika gives as an appendix a 300-week yoga course mapped out for the “intense practitioner,” nearly six years of guided yoga lessons.

You can also learn different poses for different health benefits. Some will relieve back pain and give you a solid set of core muscles. Others will help you lose weight, improve digestion, or lift depression.

Iyengar sought to be the definitive yoga teacher to heal body, mind and spirit through Hatha. If you like to exercise in a very structured way, look for an Iyengar studio near you or follow his guides to perfect your poses and breath work.

 

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Bikram Yoga 101



Bikram yoga was founded in the 1970s by the yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury. It is also commonly referred to as hot yoga, though there are other types of yogas also being done in hot studios these days. Bikram is also referred to as “boot camp” because it drills students in every 90-minute lesson using the same two breathing exercises and 26 Hatha yoga postures done in the same pattern.

Hot Yoga

In the studio, temperatures range from 80F to 110F, with a relative humidity of around 75%. This is thought to mimic the conditions in India, the birthplace of Hatha yoga, the most ancient form of yoga which dates back to around 1500 BC.

The second theory behind the heat is that it relaxes and lengthens muscles to give a better workout. It is also said to promote weight loss and release toxins from the body. Those who favor Bikram also say it boosts the immune system.

However, doing vigorous yoga poses in such conditions can cause severe dehydration and pose a serious health risk for anyone who has any heart health issues. Therefore, while Bikram studios are popping up everywhere these days, is not recommended for seniors or anyone with an underlying health concern.

Physical Emphasis

Yoga means union – the union of mind, body and spirit. Bikram, on the other hand, is a modern invention that emphasizes physical strength. Yoga is supposed to be non-competitive, but the founder encourages yoga pose competitions to see who can come up with the perfect pose, in order to win various awards.

Bikram Pros and Cons

Bikram came from Bengal on the Indian subcontinent and brought his version of yoga to the US through Hawaii and California. It has gained in popularity due to the novelty of the hot studios and the ease of only having to learn 26 Hatha yoga postures out of the thousands available. These poses can give a good workout in themselves, with little need for a hot studio.

In addition to the health benefits mentioned above, the heat is also supposed to help increase willpower as people struggle to carry out their practice in such difficult conditions. Willpower or not, excessive sweating can cause electrolyte imbalances and result in heart rhythm issues.

If students don’t drink plenty of water before, during and after their workout, they can experience dehydration, which can also pose a serious health risk. Dehydration can lead to an irregular heartbeat and to lower blood volume. Low blood volume can in turn lead to hypovolemic shock, which can even lead to death if not treated promptly.

Bikram Asanas

If you like the postures of Bikram, you should be able to do them anywhere to improve your body without dying of heat prostration. You can find simple posters with each of the asanas listed that you can follow along with. There is no meditation component with Bikram as there is with other forms of yoga.

Is Bikram Right for You?

In addition to the hot studios and asana drilling, Bikram is often referred to as “cult-like” rather than warm and welcoming. The founder and the teachers on his teacher training program have also recently been accused of systematic sexual misconduct with their students.

Any exercise is better than none in most cases, of course, but there are a range of yogas to choose from. Pick a style that matches your age, fitness level and interests. Compare and choose the safest and healthiest for you, with a studio to match.

 

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Which Type of Yoga Is Right for You?




There are quite a number of types of yogas these days that try to differentiate themselves from one another and emphasize certain aspects of the entire practice of yoga. Traditionally, yoga works on the body, mind and spirit, though most Western yogas tend to focus on the body.

If you live in a moderately large city, you should be able to find several different kinds of studios and teachers, including:

* Hatha
* Iyengar
* Vinyasa
* Kundalini
* Bikram
* Ashtanga

 

Hatha

Hatha yoga is the most traditional of all the forms of yoga, and dates back thousands of years. The name means willful or forceful, and the word is a combination of hat (sun) and ha (moon) representing power and balance.

Hatha works with the energy centers of the body, the chakras, as well as the muscles, flesh and bone, for a holistic workout. The main focus is on surrendering to and perfecting the many poses in this form of yoga. There are levels of practitioners who can do increasingly difficult poses for flexibility. They also improve their focus and concentration through meditation.

 

Iyengar

Iyengar yoga was founded by B. K. S. Iyengar in the 1970s in India and is a form of Hatha yoga. Iyengar’s focus was on detail, precision and perfect alignment for the asanas (poses) he studied and taught, in order to develop strength, mobility and stability. Before his death at the age of 95, Iyengar was said to have perfected approximately 200 Hatha yoga asanas.

 

Vinyasa

Vinyasa yoga is also known as flow yoga. It uses the same asanas as Hatha yoga, but they are put into sequences that move easily from one pose to the next. The word vinyasa means “breath-synchronized movement,” which refers to the movements being performed in conjunction with inhale and exhale patterns and for the asanas to be held for a certain number of breaths.

 

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga emphasizes the balance of mind, body and spirit through the moving of energy in the body, specifically in relation to the chakras or energy centers. Kundalini yoga has several unique postures designed to move the chakra energy up the spine. It does not require a lot of flexibility or stamina and can be done by anyone at any age. There are no levels to the classes the way there are with other forms of yoga such as Hatha.

 

Bikram

Bikram yoga, founded in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhry from Bengal, is also referred to as hot yoga. It is relatively simple in some ways because it uses only two breathing exercises and 26 Hatha yoga postures done in the same pattern every day for every lesson. However, the poses are demanding and the studio temperatures range from 80F to 110F, with a relative humidity of around 75%. This can also cause severe dehydration and pose a serious health risk to anyone with heart health issues.

 

Ashtanga

Ashtanga yoga is a form of Vinyasa yoga designed to flow the movements together, but in a more rapid and demanding way. It was founded in the late 1940s by K. Pattabhi Jois from India. It has seven main series – a basic one, and increasingly advanced ones. All of them are vigorous and very few practitioners are known to have reached the highest levels.

The type of yoga you choose should be based on your overall physical health and stamina. If you are a beginner and/or senior, try Hatha or Kundalini if there is a studio near you. For something more lively but not too demanding, try Vinyasa. Then see what a difference yoga can make to your health and vitality.

 

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Yoga and the Elderly




Yoga is ideal for people of all ages, but particularly for seniors for a number of reasons.

Low Impact

The first is that in most cases, yoga is low impact. Hatha, Kundalini and Vinyasa yoga are all good examples of low-impact yoga that can be done safely even by complete beginners.

 

Increased Strength and Flexibility

A second reason is how much yoga can improve strength, flexibility and stability. This means less risk of slips, trips and falls, which can cause bones to break and even be life-threatening due to complications such as blood clots in the legs and pneumonia from inactivity.

Being more mobile and flexible also means greater independence well into your senior years. After all, it’s not just about how long we live, but the quality of life we enjoy as well. Staying fit and active is one of the best ways to care for your health, especially if you are a caregiver for an older relative or partner, have grandchildren and so on.

 

A Mental Workout

Yoga is also great for mental fitness. It improves mood, focus and concentration, especially in relation to the types of yoga which include meditation as part of their routines. Two such types are Hatha, the origin of all yogas, and Kundalini yoga. Kundalini yoga was formed in the 5th century AD to work on the energy centers of the body, known as the chakras in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurvedic medicine).

 

Increased Mobility

One of the biggest health challenges for the elderly tends to be pain and stiffness, such as that of arthritis. If we feel pain when we work out, we avoid working out. However, the less we move, the stiffer we become and the more pain we suffer. So we work out even less, leading to a vicious cycle of pain, stiffness and lack of exercise that can leave many people house-bound or even chair-bound when they could be out making the most of their golden years.

 

Starting Safely

As with all forms of exercise, it is important to start safely and sensibly through slowly adding activity to your day and not trying to overdo things. For this reason, certain types of yoga such as Bikram and Ashtanga are not a good idea. Bikram, known as hot yoga, is not just physically demanding – it is also known as hot yoga because of the roasting conditions in the studio, with temperatures often reaching 100F or more. This can lead to dehydration and a severe strain for anyone who has heart health issues.

Ashtanga has seven levels, a basic one and six more of gradually increasing difficulty. The fact that few practitioners have ever reached the most advanced levels will give you an idea of how demanding this yoga can be.

Finding the Right Studio for You

If you live in a moderately large urban area, chances are you have more than one studio close by to choose from. Many will offer free introductory lessons so you can try the yoga and see the studio for yourself. Many studios also offer discounted lessons or unlimited classes as part of a reasonably priced monthly membership.

You will naturally wish to focus on the classes themselves and how much health benefit you think you will get from them. Other important considerations in relation to choosing the right studio for you will be the skills, qualifications and experience of the teacher/s. Some specialize in yoga for seniors.

Check out an introductory class near you and see what a difference it can make to your health.

 

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How To Do Yoga At Home Safely




It is easy to start a yoga practice at home with just a few basics. The first is a yoga routine you wish to try, such as a beginner’s DVD or yoga video you can stream on your computer. Your next important pieces of equipment are comfortable clothes that are not too tight or too baggy, in order to avoid injury.

Mat

A good non-skid yoga mat will allow you to practice your yoga safely almost anywhere, such as a carpeted or wooden floor. Choose a thicker mat if you have any joint issues or arthritis. Be sure to place your mat on a level surface to avoid tripping or turning an ankle.

 

Props

Not every yoga pose requires you to turn into a pretzel, but there are a few yoga props that can support you in certain poses and deepen others. These include:

* Strap – A yoga strap can be looped around the soles of your feet to help you deepen your bends. You can also support your leg during leg raises and grip the straps with both hands if you wish to do a stretch with your arms behind your back.

* Blocks – Blocks offer support and stability and can be used with certain postures to make them either easier or more challenging. Some people also use them to sit on for long periods of time when holding a pose.

* Bolster – A yoga bolster can be used to support the body in a number of ways, sitting or lying down, to help with form and comfort. They come in a wide variety of styles for different purposes, such as supporting your legs or back. They are ideal for making your Corpse pose more comfortable, as either a neck pillow or a support behind your knees.

* Yoga Cushion – The most popular cushion is the classic Zafu or medication cushion that looks like a powder puff. Others styles include a crescent-shaped cushion that supports the back and protects the knees. Wedge-shaped cushion that you put under your butt are also good because they stop you from slouching during your seated yoga poses and meditations.

* Blanket – Some people like to cover themselves when they are doing the Corpse pose for deep relaxation. Others use the blanket to practice on instead of a mat. Blankets are a good idea for anyone who has muscular skeletal issues, because cold muscles are more tense and therefore more prone to injury. If you don’t use a blanket, put a tracksuit over your yoga clothes before going into Corpse pose.

Other Helpful Tools

In addition to the props listed above, you might also find the following useful:

* A Metal Folding Chair – Chairs can be used for balance and certain poses. The chair seat should be upholstered and the chair placed on your mat so you do not slip in any way. A chair is also useful for those who can’t stand up for very long or who wish to try certain upright poses in a seated position without going down onto the floor.

* The Walls – Use the walls to steady yourself in different poses, either standing or inverted poses such as shoulder stands. For extra steadiness, use a corner of the room.

Starting Safely

When you are first starting yoga, begin slowly and only do what feels comfortable. Warm up and cool down with some stretches at the start and end of each routine. Use reliable websites like Yoga Journal to learn more about each pose you see on the videos, and you will soon have a safe yoga routine to enjoy at home.

 

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