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The ultimate yoga guide - perfect for beginners

What is yoga?

In the West, we usually associate yoga with physical exercises, the so-called asanas. These are an important part of the yoga practice, but yoga is more than just physical training. Yoga is an ancient philosophy of life, originally from India and developed more than 3,500 years ago.


Yoga means "unity" and is derived from the Sanskrit word "yuj", which can be translated as "unite". On a spiritual level, it is about the connection of the individual with the universal consciousness. Yoga practice is an ancient training method for a balanced relationship between body, soul and spirit. For several decades, yoga has also arrived here in the Western world and enjoys great popularity.

Why practice yoga?

Yoga can be more than just a sport, it can become a philosophy of life and as such describes the state of a clear mind and vital body. Depending on the form of yoga, the physical exercises are combined with a meditation technique and are a great way to simply switch off, especially in an increasingly hectic world.


Yoga also has a positive and strengthening effect on our bodies, improving coordination, flexibility, strength and endurance, boosting the metabolism, preventing diseases of the cardiovascular system and supporting the musculoskeletal system. So if you do yoga, you do something good for yourself and benefit from many positive effects!

Holistic training for body and mind: How does yoga affect you?


If you practice yoga regularly in your everyday life, your health can benefit from many positive effects. The effect's yoga has on your body and mind are scientifically proven and undisputed. Here are a few examples:


• A strengthened immune system
• Greater flexibility and muscle strength
• Relief from tension in the neck, back, and so on.
• Better endurance
• Relaxation and a better handling of stress
• A better body perception and more awareness of one's own needs, abilities and limits
• An increased ability to concentrate, more energy and a good mood
• A better posture

This list can be continued, because the positive qualities for your health are numerous - and they are individually quite different. The best thing is to try yoga yourself to experience the positive side effects first hand.

Is Yoga for everyone?!



From whom is yoga suitable?


The essential components of the yoga philosophy consist of recognizing one's own limitations, being mindful and patient with oneself, and yet persistently working towards one's goals. Since yoga is less a sport and more a state of mind, it is suitable for everyone, regardless of age, gender or physical fitness. Even if you are already a professional athlete, you can incorporate yoga into your daily or weekly training schedule and benefit from the positive changes.

There are many different styles and variations of yoga, which can be modified to fit your own type and health. By the way, yoga knows no gender or age, as both men (yogis) and women (yoginis) as well as children benefit. Depending on what fitness level you are at, or what goal you want to achieve with yoga, some types of yoga are better suited than others. Even if you have ailments, such as knee or hip problems, there are ways for you to practice yoga. With a regular yoga practice, you will find more peace and
calmness and balance and strengthen your stress resistance.



How do you find the right yoga style?


Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Kundalini Yoga...at first sight you only understand Spanish? How can you decide which style is right for you? Yes, especially as a beginner you often don't really know what it all means. But don't worry, we will help you and introduce you to some styles. Some yoga styles are very spritiual, others are very physical and sweaty. The best way to find out which one is right for you is to try it yourself. To make it easier for you to get started, you can think about what you want to get out of yoga:

Are you looking more for spiritual enlightenment or an athletic challenge? Do you want to build up muscles, strengthen your condition or rather calm down and relax? After you have answered these questions, the search for the right yoga style is no longer difficult.

The Yoga Styles


Yoga Styles for beginners

You want to dive into the world of yoga for the first time and are still undecided about which style is right for you? Don't worry - generally speaking, you can't go wrong. Basically, even as a beginner, you can start with any yoga style. And above all, it is quite normal if you need some time to get into it - small progress instead of perfection is the motto.

For yoga beginners, styles that are practiced at a slower pace are recommended. You stay longer in the individual postures (asanas) and the focus is on executing them correctly. You can learn a lot, relax your mind and build muscles all over your body.


Hatha Yoga

Classical Hatha Yoga is particularly suitable for your introduction to yoga. This style contains all the traditional elements of the Indian yoga tradition. Postures (Asanas), breathing exercises (Pranayama), relaxation and meditation. Most of the modern, western yoga styles have developed from Hatha Yoga, therefore the style is a good "basic training" for yoga beginners to be able to enter other styles. The practice of Hatha Yoga involves a relaxed workout in which you slowly assume each posture. In the process, you develop good balance, become more flexible, and strengthen your entire musculature.


Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga is also a very good yoga style for beginners. In this style, the emphasis is on the correct execution of the individual asanas. As with Hatha Yoga, you stay longer in the individual postures and thus have time to find your way into new asanas. The founder of Iyengar Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar, was very focussed on the aspect of making yoga possible for everyone. Many aids such as yoga straps or blocks are used to compensate for individual physical conditions.




Yoga Styles for muscle building

Yoga also helps you build muscle in two ways. On the one hand, yoga is a great complement to strength training, because the regular stretching makes your muscles more powerful, and they get tired more slowly. On the other hand, yoga itself builds muscles, depending on the orientation of the yoga style to different degrees.

Yoga strengthens especially the deeper muscles and that all over the body. By holding the individual asanas for a long time and the repeated sequences of certain movements, you promote intensive muscle development.


Ashtanga Yoga

"Meditation in motion" - that is Ashtanga Yoga, here you are in good hands if you are looking for a sportive challenge. Ashtanga Yoga is a very powerful and dynamic form of yoga that is guaranteed to make you sweat. In a very fast flow, you complete a series of set asanas that are repeated over and over again. The asanas are held for only about 5 breaths.

There are a total of six series of postures - you only start the next series when you have mastered the previous one. With Ashtanga Yoga, you build up a lot of muscles and effectively strengthen your cardiovascular system.


Vinyasa Yoga / Power Yoga

A very dynamic style of yoga that focuses primarily on the athletic elements of yoga and is therefore suitable for people look for a physically challenging yoga style. Meditation is usually not practiced. Very important is the correct breathing technique to support the dynamic flow in yoga. In Vinyasa Yoga, individual asanas are practiced in an interconnected flow of movement.

So you are constantly in motion (in "flow") and hold the individual asanas only briefly. Instead, you repeat certain sequences of movements over and over again. After a while you will notice the effort and also that the repeated holding of the asanas demands a lot from your muscles. So, to build muscle and improve your endurance, this form of yoga is great.


Jivamukti Yoga

A yoga class accompanied by loud music - sounds unusual and controversial? It is, but this kind of yoga makes sense. Because the music carries you through the strenuous and strength-challenging yoga class and is guaranteed to free you from everyday worries. By the way, Jivamukti also means "liberated soul".

The yoga style combines the athletic with the spiritual, because mantras and meditations are also part of the Jivamukti Yoga lesson. Jivamukti Yoga also includes a considerable theoretical part, because the intention behind this style is not only the pure fitness matter, but also to encourage more harmony and a non-violent existence.




Yoga Styles for stretching

Many athletes use yoga exercises specifically to stretch their muscles. Two yoga styles are particularly suitable for this purpose, even though they are very different in themselves.


Yin Yoga

Here you can expect a gentle and conscious stretching and strengthening of connective tissue, joints and fascia - in addition, Yin Yoga is a path to deep relaxation. It is primarily about gaining a better awareness of your own body and mind. Most of the asanas are done while sitting or lying down. Yin Yoga is therefore especially popular with yoga beginners, pregnant women and people who are physically limited or injured.

In Yin Yoga, you stay in the individual asanas for up to five minutes. This is the best way for you to come to rest in the postures. Your body softens and begins to yield in the postures and release blockages - both on a physical and mental level.


Bikram Yoga / Hot Yoga

In Hot Yoga, the name already indicates what you can expect in this style of yoga. Bikram Yoga is practiced in a room that is about 40 degrees warm. The pace is more moderate, but the temperature places the highest demands on your cardiovascular system. You will also feel this during your Bikram Yoga beginnings, but this is quite normal and after two to three yoga classes you will notice how quickly your body has become accustomed to the sweaty workout and learned to appreciate the benefits. In addition to building muscle and improving fitness, you'll notice that your muscles are much more flexible than normal due to the heat.




Yoga for relaxation

The main goals in yoga are mental and physical relaxation. Yoga can work wonders in stressful times and help you calm down. The following yoga styles are characterized by the mental and spiritual focus that naturally serves your relaxation.


Sivananda Yoga

Spreading peace, health and joy through the power of yoga - that is the great mission of the Sivananda yogis. On the one hand, the practice is intended to maintain physical health and, on the other, to integrate the ancient, traditional yogic philosophy into one's everyday life, into one's life. Ultimately, this is how the mind and soul come to rest.


Kundalini Yoga

The focus of the very spiritual Kundalini Yoga style is the primal energy. In Kundalini teachings, this energy is symbolized as a sleeping snake that rests curled up at the base of the spine. The goal is to awaken this Kundalini energy through kriyas, breathing and meditation. Kundalini Yoga is therefore not a style of yoga aimed at fitness.


copyright Sinah Diepold (Instagram: @sinahdiepold); filmed and edited by Susanne Schramke

Where can you learn yoga?

Yoga classes and what you should know

The correct execution of the various asanas should be at the forefront of your yoga practice. Incorrectly executed exercises can, in fact, cause postural damage, contrary to the actual intention of yoga. Therefore, it is important to learn yoga first. For example, there are extra yoga studios, as well as local gymnastics clubs, fitness studios and adult education centers that offer yoga classes. Employers and schools also often offer yoga classes. If you prefer to keep to yourself, you can also watch special/free tutorials or join an online class. However, if you are fairly new to the world of yoga, initial supervision by trained teachers is definitely preferable.


Is there a difference to pilates?

Yes, there is! Pilates is much younger than yoga. It has been around since the 20th century. Probably the biggest difference between yoga and Pilates is the importance each places on the body and mind. Yoga, which is several thousand years old, aims to create unity between the two factors, while Pilates focuses primarily on the body. Pilates primarily aims to strengthen the muscles through specific and coordinated movements. Using one's own body weight, the prana, or energy, is awakened in the center of the body as well as in the arms and legs. This is quite strenuous, especially in the beginning!

The main aspects of Pilates are strengthening deep muscles, a healthy body and increased body awareness. Yoga and Pilates also differ in breathing. In Pilates, too, breathing is related to movement, but there is no spiritual aspect behind it. Basically, the diaphragmatic breathing is used here, and the air is drawn in or expelled particularly intensively. Breathing is therefore more functional and sets the rhythm of the movements.



The right equipment

You want to start yoga and preferably right away? We have listed the equipment you need for yoga here.


Mats

When buying a mat, you should first think about which characteristics are important to you. There are differences in material, thickness, size and feel. There are models made of natural materials or mats made of plastic. Thicker mats have the advantage that they cushion the body better, thinner mats are better suited for balance exercises. Also pay attention to the feel. If you practise a sweaty style (e.g. Ashtanga), it can quickly become slippery.


Clothing

Your clothes should not be too tight, but also not too loose, otherwise they can interfere with some exercises. Comfortable yoga pants or leggings with a wide waistband are best. If you are a woman, a comfortable sports bra and a top with a high cotton content are a good choice. Synthetic fabrics make you sweat more quickly, which can feel uncomfortable in the long run. For the final relaxation in Shavasana it is also advisable to wear a cosy yoga jumper at hand for the final relaxation in Shavasana, so that you do not cool down immediately.





Accessories



For some exercises it is useful to use a fascia roller or a yoga block. For some exercises special special belts are used. If you don't want to buy such a belt at first, you can also try a normal belt for trousers or bathrobes. It is also important to always have something to drink nearby. Yoga exercises can also be strenuous and sweaty. A cushion and a blanket are also useful. These can, for example, cushion the knees, support the position or, in the case of the blanket or, in the case of the blanket, to keep the body warm during the final relaxation. serve as a blanket. A yoga towel is very helpful in some situations, for example in Bikram yoga.


You can find even more clothing and equipment here.


ॐ Namaste ॐ


copyright Sinah Diepold (Instagram: @sinahdiepold); filmed and edited by Susanne Schramke