Yoga, How to Start Your Own Practice: The Ultimate Newbie Guide
Updated: Aug 8, 2019
Yoga, How to Start Your Own Practice: The Ultimate Newbie Guide
In this article I will give you an awesome foundational blueprint, for how to commence your own yoga practice. The statement of, “I don’t know where to start”, will be a thing of the past. Additionally, you don’t even NEED to attend classes all the time once you have these tools.
An overview of this article.
Starting with the why: The benefits of Yoga.
What even is yoga?
Foundation: The Asana Families. (Asana is Sanskrit for posture, or “pose”).
Practical Newbie Tips
Starting With The Why: Benefits of Yoga
So let us start with the benefits of yoga, or the “why”. Why is the most important question when starting an endeavour. Our purpose for something will sustain our practice through thick and thin, rain hail and shine. At a glance, the benefits of yoga are as follows. This list is not exhaustive by any means.
- General health benefits of exercise: Strength, endurance, mobility, detoxification, digestion/metabolism, lean body mass, white blood cells/immunity, stem cell repair ie anti aging, and mental health benefits from dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, plus the lowering of cortisol ie stress, and brain health thanks to neurotransmitter BDNF.
- Yoga promotes high quality breathing and large oxygen intake, thus boosting our mitochondria and cellular energy.
- A more esoteric benefit, yoga cleanses and awakens our energy-body (prana, qi), thus creating higher levels of health, removing emotional blocks and traumas, and creating higher states of consciousness, alertness, clarity, and spiritual insight. Meditation practice compliments this.
- Profound whole body awareness and cohesion.
- Cohesion of all bodily systems, as yoga stimulates many different organs as we twist into full ranges of motion.
- We also exercise our intrinsic muscles (rather than just extrinsic), making us VERY strong from the inside out, with terrific functional movement while not being bulky or muscle bound.
Ok, that’s enough for benefits. But what even is yoga?
The root of the world yoga means union, or to yolk, bind, and unite. As BKS Iyengar says in his book Light on Yoga, “Yoga is the unification and integration of our physical mental emotional and spiritual faculties with our personal will and the Will of God”. In other words, everything you are comes into allignment with your will and the highest will of the cosmos.
But yoga is more than just physical posture. Let us examine the “Eight Limbs of Yoga”, which paint a whole picture for what yoga is as a system for well-being and awakening. While I would love to elaborate, let us just check out this brief image which incapsulates the Eight Limbs of Yoga very succinctly and beautifully.
For version without image:
Yamas: Ethical disciplines
Niyamas: Self Disciplines
Pratyahara: Turning the awareness within.
Dharana: Concentration on one point.
Dhyana: Meditation, our sustained focus.
Samadhi: Perfect joy, perfect happiness, oneness with all living things.
Foundation: Asana Families.
As you get started in a home practice, it’s useful to know the basic Asana families. These are “categories” of yoga postures, grouped together as sharing something similar. It is recommended you practice at least a LITTLE from each Asana family, to create complete full body practice. Some injuries may limit you from an Asana family. The basic Asana families are as follows.
- Warm up postures and salutations.
- Standing postures.
- Arm balances (can be omitted)
- Abdominal and core (can be omitted)
- Forward folds and hip openers.
- *Maybe include inversions, but these could be counted as arm balances.
The trick is to practice at least a few postures from each Asana family during your practice. A short practice may include one or two. A longer/deeper practice may include a wider range. Another trick is that you generally do the postures in the order listed above, otherwise there is also some freedom to intermesh them once you become fluent. I recommend learning just two postures from each Asana family at a time, and then gradually build from there.
Extra pro tip: always inhale into a backbend, and exhale into a forward bend.
Inhale extend, exhale deepen.
Pranayama means breath. Yoga postures enhance our breathing dramatically, and then we can add additional dedicated breath practice after our asanas. Oxygen is the most fundamental form of nutrition: It contains the essence of life force energy itself, and greater oxygen intake will enliven and heal the functioning of brain body and qi (chi). Here are some basic pranayama practices for further study. Alternatively, I can run you though them during our private sessions.
- Ujayi Pranayama: Audible breath.
- Vritti Pranayama: Fluctuating breath.
- Kapalabhati: Cultivating Light
- Nadi Shodhan Pranayam: Alternating nostril breath.
If you’re looking to get started right now before even reading up on those practices, I’ll give you a starting point. After your Asana practice, sit down and start breathing deeply and fully. Begin creating a consistent rhythm of long inhales, and hold, long exhales, and hold. Noise is welcome.
This is the art and practice of focusing your mind on a chosen thing. Deliberate focus is the ultimate tool. Change your focus, change your life. Some things you can focus on during meditation include:
- The breath.
- The sensation of energy lifting.
- The sensation of the breath stimulating/opening each chakra.
- An affirmation.
- Pure consciousness. So instead of putting awareness on an object, you put awareness on the field of awareness itself.
- A visual point, either in the environment or the minds eye.
- Mantra and chanting.
Practical Tips for Newbies
Start attending a yoga class to kick start momentum with an awesome teacher and community who can help you. Be pro-social and make new friends. I teach at Hot Rock Adventure Centre Townsville, Wed An day Thurs 6.15pm.
Practice YouTube yoga flows using a streaming device in front of your mat. You can do it for 10 mins, 20 mins, or an hour, beginner intermediate or advanced, relaxing or energising.
Take private yoga lessons so the teacher can focus on you only, and give you the exact pointers relevant to you. I offer private yoga lessons. Message me on Facebook or call/text on 0403556927.
Once you have memorised some basic progressions, practice them outdoors with no device and no teacher. This setting will create an extra energy.
I recommend always doing at least a few minutes of pranayama and meditation after yoga sessions. It is like the cherry on top. You cultivate and settle the blissful energy that was set free by the movements.
Go at your own pace. Seek a sustainable practice. Enjoy the process, be patient, and celebrate the small wins :).
That’s it! In summary we looked at:
- The benefits of yoga.
- What is yoga.
- Foundation: Asana families.
- Beginner Yogi practical tips.
This will have you sorted to take those first steps! And if you ever want a yoga teacher who can help you make those quick gains fluently and effortlessly, hit me up :). You can find me on Facebook, Trent Anthony or Hardcore Yogi, or message me on 0403556927. You can also check my website, www.hardcoreyogi.com. Check out my other articles on holistic health and awakening. Sign up to the email list for exclusive content and special offers.
Much love my beings of light. We will heal all wounds, find our perfection, and save this world.