You may not be into Yoga but I bet you've heard of it. It's impossible to avoid because so many people are so into it these days. There's one reason that Yoga has become so popular around the world, and that is because it works, which means it makes people feel better.
There are two tricks to Yoga that make it especially effective at fixing pains and enhancing energy, which is why it makes people feel so much better. It has a holistic approach and when done correctly it demands concentration.
Holistic in this sense means that Yoga is about being well-rounded, effecting the whole body by reaching all of the parts. Many of our Western exercise programs overemphasize certain body parts which ultimately creates imbalances. As well, most of the physical therapy and medical perspectives toward dealing with injuries revolve solely on the affected area, rarely taking into account surrounding issues that contributed to the problem. Yoga is never about the individual part, it is always about the whole, which is what makes it work so well. In order to get the best effect on as much of the whole as possible, it's important to know which poses you should be practicing, and how to do them correctly.
If you aren't really into Yoga but you want to get it's benefits, you should practice the postures that target the full body. That way you practice a little and you spread the benefit throughout the whole body. If you have a knee problem or a bad neck, then you get one or two poses specifically for that issue, and have a couple basic ones that cover the whole body. There are certain Yoga postures that, when done correctly, give you much better results from 5 minutes of practice then others.
If you start practicing and see that you want to get into it more, you should concentrate on the correct Yoga poses for beginners. These are the ones that, although not as interesting to the ego, build the proper foundation, which is really important in Yoga. If you learn the fundamentals well, a few things will happen that will take you far. One is your body will feel better because Yoga, when practiced correctly, fixes the body. It literally balances the imbalances. Another is that your mind will feel better, which is obvious right, because the body is getting fixed up. Less body pain equals happier mind, always. As well, all the good benefits will motivate you to practice more, which is always a very good thing.
Knowing which Yoga poses to practice is half of what you need to be intelligent with your Yoga, and get the best results for the time you dedicate, whether that's 5 minutes a few days per week or a couple of hours per day. You have to do the right Yoga poses, but you also have to do them correctly.
Ever notice how one of your hips is higher than the other, or more forward? Certainly if you look in a mirror and stand naturally you'll see one shoulder higher than the other. What you're seeing is your posture, the brilliant position your body figured out as you were growing into the person you are now. Although you never thought about gravity pushing down on you, all of the time, your body has had to deal with it, and your posture is the result. If you don't know what you're supposed to be doing in the Yoga poses, your posture will lead the way. The tightness and weaknesses of your body will determine how you do the Yoga poses, that's not good. You want the Yoga poses to fix those imbalances, rather than being dominated by them. Yoga should strengthen the weak areas and lengthen the tight areas, which can only happen if you practice correctly, not randomly.
Practicing correctly means understanding what you are trying to accomplish with your body in the pose, and doing it. Everyone should have the same goal in every Yoga pose – to balance the body. But that's difficult when you don't even know what it means to have a balanced body, or what your specific imbalances are. That's why you want good teaching. Yoga should not be working your body into a position you see someone else doing, there should be very clear instructions that make complete sense and are doable. When you learn, for example, to keep your knees pointing straight ahead you learn what is correct. As you focus on that and do your best, you are balancing your body, and over time you see that one leg can do it easier than the other. Eventually you notice that is connected to the hip problem you'd had for years. Learning the pose correctly not only helps you get the best benefit from your practice, it also teaches you about your own posture and how to balance it.
Yoga can help you feel better and accomplish the goals you have with your body and mind, the key is to start slow with the right postures, and learn them well. If you do only this you’ll immediately start getting the benefits that are making Yoga so popular world wide.
Christian Leeby has been a full-time Yoga instructor for over 2 decades. He has learned from the best teachers around the world and is an expert on correct alignment. Visit him at www.miracleofyoga.com.