NoBS Yoga Basics
Updated: Sep 23, 2020
“Each class is an opportunity to notice your tendencies.” – Lara Heimann, PT and creator of the LYT yoga method
As I sat cross legged finishing an online yoga class with Lara Heimann, she dropped that nugget of wisdom – “Each class is an opportunity to notice your tendencies.” For me, this sums up why I’ve continued to practice yoga. I originally started doing yoga to relax. Then, after realizing that the style of yoga I was doing was a more athletic type, I continued doing yoga for the “workout.” And now I practice yoga because the physicality allows me to clear out the mental bullshit by forcing me to stay present in my body with my breath on my mat.
What is yoga?
Most people in the “Western World” know yoga mainly for its physical poses or asanas. And while the movement practice is a component of it, it’s so much more – it is a practice that unites physical, mental, and, for some, spiritual. Evolving over the past 5,000 years, yoga preaches ethical principles (known as yamas and niyamas), meditation, and different breathing techniques in addition to the asanas. In fact, the physical practice came about as a way for yogis to prepare the body to sit for long periods of time in meditation. From a spiritual perspective, all of the components of yoga are said to help one reach the ultimate state of enlightenment, but I believe it all really boils down to being a practice to help you be a better person to yourself and the world around you.
As a quick side note on the physical practice of yoga, this has also evolved over the years as well, particularly in the past 100 years. There are styles that are athletic (such as Ashtanga and Vinyasa), relaxing (such as Yin and Restorative), spiritual (such as Kundalini), and more.
Why do yoga?
After many years of practicing yoga and going through two yoga teacher trainings, I fully believe that the non-physical parts of yoga hold as much value as the physical practice. But, to explain why you should “do yoga,” I want to focus on the movement practice.
Since there are hundreds of studies showing a multitude of benefits of yoga, here is a highlight list of some of the top benefits:
Reduces stress & anxiety. Several studies measuring the release of the stress-hormone cortisol have proven that less cortisol is present in those who have been practicing yoga compared to those who have not, including when study participants are subjected to the same stressors.
Perhaps a bit obvious, the physical movements and poses can improve strength, flexibility, mobility and balance.
Increased strength: One study found that both women and men saw a significant increase in muscle strength and endurance linked to yoga poses known as sun salutations. Improved flexibility & mobility: Research has found that both flexibility and mobility in an individual, whether young or old, can show marked improvements by only doing twice weekly yoga classes.
Enhanced balance: Studies have shown that the incorporation of one-legged postures in many different yoga styles help people of all ages have better balance.
Better sleep. Research has shown that yoga affects a variety of factors when it comes to sleep including the increase and regulation of the “sleep” hormone melatonin.
These definitely aren’t the only benefits, but they are pretty powerful reasons to get on a yoga mat.
How to get started with yoga
In my opinion, the hardest part of getting started in doing yoga is getting over your own limiting beliefs as to why you can’t do it. I truly believe that, if you do it mindfully (meaning do what feels good, don’t do what doesn’t feel good regardless of what the teacher says), yoga is for everyone. You just need to find the right style so be prepared to try a couple classes before throwing in the towel.
When looking for yoga classes, there are so many different options to fit any budget. You can find free classes on YouTube, online classes for a low monthly subscription (lower than you’ll pay for a membership to a yoga studio), in-person yoga classes at your local yoga studio or fitness center, and one-on-one classes with yoga teachers. Do a little research and go with what works best for you. Also, start with what is manageable for you. Don’t feel the need to jump into 60 minute classes five times a week if all you have time for is 15 minutes each morning. Based on research, consistency in doing yoga helps you get the benefits.
One final word on getting started with yoga: despite all of the companies and advertising that you see out there, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on the right yoga clothes and yoga accessories to do yoga. You honestly don’t even need a mat. You just need clothes you can comfortably move in and enough space that you aren’t bumping into things when standing tall or laying down.
Want to learn more about yoga? Check out:
LYT Daily Yoga – online yoga classes
Shiny Happy Yoga – online yoga classes