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A beginner’s guide to yoga
Yoga dates back approximately 5,000 years and has many health benefits, which includes lowering blood pressure and increasing your strength.
There are many different styles of yoga classes and there really is something to suit everybody’s needs. You might be thinking: “oh, but you have to be flexible to do yoga” or “you have to be young”. Don’t listen to those misconceptions. It doesn’t matter what age you are, what gender you are, what your weight is or even your height. Everyone has to start somewhere, just like all those who practise advanced yoga poses, they started at the beginning.
So what are the benefits of yoga?
Yoga can help you relax, improve your breathing technique, posture and flexibility, find your inner Zen and even increase your physical activity level. A gentle yoga practice can help you lose weight as you burn fat and tone up. Finding the right yoga teacher or class is the first step to beginning your yoga journey, or there are many tutorials and support groups online which can point you in the right direction.
Here are 5 basic yoga poses to get you started:
The mountain pose. This is the first base for all standing poses. Stand with your feet together and press down through all of your toes as you spread them open. Draw your abdominals in and up, lift your chest and press the tops of your shoulders down. As your shoulder blades come together, open your chest and keep your palms facing inwards towards your body. Breathe deeply and hold for five to eight breaths.
The Downward dog. This pose helps strengthen and stretch your entire body. Begin on all fours with your wrists in line with your shoulders and knees under your hips. Lift up your hips and draw them back towards your heels. If you need to, keep your knees slightly bent as your hamstrings might be tight. Now, walk your hands forward and firmly press your palms to the ground and rotate the inner elbows towards each other. Focus on your breathing and hold this for five to eight breaths.
The plank. This pose allows you to balance on your hands and use your entire body for support. Start from all fours, tuck under your toes and lift your legs up off the mat, so that you’re only your hands and toes are touching the ground. Now slide your feet back until you are straight. Draw your shoulders down away from your ears and pull your ribs together. Hold this for eight to 10 deep breath.
The tree. This pose is a great standing pose for all beginners and allows you to balance on one foot. Start with your feet together and then place your right foot on your inner left upper thigh. Press your hands together as if you are praying and then find a spot for you to focus on. Hold this for eight to 10 breaths and then switch sides.
The child pose. It’s good to have a resting pose and this pose is great for everyone, it helps you relax. Begin on all fours and bring your knees and your feet together as you bring your bum back to your heels and stretch your arms forward. Lower your head to the floor and let your body relax. Hold this for as long as you need to.
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