A Gentle Guide To Hatha Yoga For Beginners:
It is never too late to start a yoga practice. Even if you have never gone to a yoga class before, there are many ways you can begin. As yoga has become quite popular over the years, access to yoga has been easy. Yoga studios continue to open while gyms and community centers offer a wide range of yoga classes. But where to begin? It may feel intimidating to figure out what type of yoga to practice and where to go. Let’s begin with a basic overview of yoga styles and how you can start a yoga practice. Specifically, we’ll discuss hatha yoga for beginners!
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Hatha Yoga is a good place to start for beginners. It is considered a school of yoga in which there holds many styles. The intention of this yoga discipline is to find a connection with the spiritual self through an understanding of the physical body.
To put it more plainly, Hatha Yoga is a category of yoga that involves forms of yoga that will, through practical techniques of body and breath awareness, lead you to a healthy and enlightened life.
Depending on your physical abilities and what you’d like to achieve from a yoga practice, there is a Hatha Yoga style that is right for you. If you want to build more upper body strength, achieve greater flexibility, gain mental clarity, or heal from a recent injury, there is a Hatha Yoga practice for you.
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Some Forms of Hatha Yoga
This is just a short list of Hatha Yoga styles ranging from a beginner level to a more advanced level.
- Restore Yoga – a gentle yoga practice using props (e.g. blankets, pillows, blocks, straps, etc.) to fully relax the entire mind and body. It helps to release tension in tight muscles and helps clear an active mind. Perfect practice for a beginner and any level of yogi.
- Yin Yoga – a therapeutic yoga style that helps release bound-up connective tissue. A yogi holds specific yoga postures for an extended time (with the support of props) to gently stretch and release these tight areas. Good for mild injuries or relieving tension in areas of the body.
- Power Vinyasa Yoga – a dynamic moving practice that involves fluid transitions through yoga poses. Good for the intermediate to advanced yoga practitioner who wants to gain strength, greater mobility, increased flexibility, and heighten athleticism.
- Hot Yoga – a yoga practice performed in a heated studio (up to 105 degrees F). A challenging practice that builds endurance, strength, and flexibility.
The foundation of any yoga practice is breath. Within each of these styles of yoga, breathing is a key element.
The practice of breathing in yoga is called Pranayama (prah-nah-yah-mah). It is a Sanskrit word that means “breath control.” It can also mean the action that you give your breath. For example, you can breathe slowly, breathe quickly, or hold your breath.
Pranayama also refers to the energetic life force that circulates through your body. By performing breathing exercises, you generate a deeper awareness of the subtle parts of your being. It heightens your relationship with your physical, mental, and emotional body. Having this deeper connection and ways to manage it, leads to enlightened living.
A Sample of Hatha Yoga Poses You Can Practice
Tree pose helps with balance, focus, and concentration.
- Start in a standing position.
- Shift your body weight to your right foot.
- Place your left foot on the inside of your right leg (this can be above or below the knee).
- Point your left knee to the left side of the room.
- Raise your arms overhead.
- Hold the posture for 5-10 breaths.
- Practice the pose on the other side.
Downward Facing Dog:
Downward Dog is a Hatha Yoga posture that will stimulate muscles in your entire body.
- Start on your hands and knees.
- Tuck your toes and lift your hips into the air (you’ll form an inverted V-shape with your body).
- Keep a slight bend in your knees.
- Press your hands firmly into your yoga mat.
- Maintain a lengthened spine.
- Notice muscle engagement in your arms, torso, and legs.
- Hold the posture for 5-10 breaths.
Corpse Pose or Savasana:
Every yoga practice ends in a relaxing, meditative pose like Corpse Pose.
- Lie down on your yoga mat.
- Extend your legs out in front of you.
- Rest your arms along the sides of your body.
- Completely relax your body with your eyes closed.
- Notice the gentle sound of your breath.
- Hold the pose for 3-5 minutes.
So if you are interested in starting a yoga practice, think of what you need: strength, mental clarity, flexibility, emotional stability, and/or balance. There is a yoga practice suited for your personal needs as well as your current yoga level. The many styles offered in a Hatha Yoga practice will guide you toward your intention and promote health and wellness in your lives.
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