It seems everywhere you turn, people are talking about yoga and its powerful benefits. Incorporating yoga into your life can not only make you more fit, increasing your strength and flexibility, it can also rejuvenate your body and fill your world with a sense of calm. If you’re new to the practice, there are a few things to keep in mind for your workout.

Create a space. Make sure there is enough room to move comfortably so you will remain undisturbed during your workout.

Be aware of your breath. Practice an awareness exercise for one to two minutes. Sit or lie on the floor, and focus on feeling air moving in and out of your nostrils. Exercise your breath by silently counting your inhalation and doubling the count for your exhalation for eight to 10 rounds of deep breathing. This also helps strengthen the diaphragm.

Warm up. Learning mindful movement is the most important element of yoga. Warming up prepares muscles and lets you practice breathing with movement and holding positions to deepen your awareness.

Take it slow. Your ability to hold a position will build over time. The process of finding what works for you is called “finding your edge.” It is important to listen to your body. You will become familiar with what feels safe when stretching and when to challenge yourself. Practice each pose for two to four rounds of deep breathing. You will build up to being able to hold yoga positions longer over time. When you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to practice each pose twice.

Remember to relax. To finish your workout, take five to 15 minutes to rest in relaxation pose. Lie on your back with pillows or blankets under your head and knees if necessary. Rest with arms at your sides, palms up, and breathe deeply, feeling your body relax. Follow with a brief meditation, sitting quietly for two to 10 minutes.

Perfect Your Poses

Yoga is ideal for finding balance both physically and mentally. Whether you’re at work and want to squeeze in a few moves to stretch your body or want to incorporate some new moves into your workout.

All you need are a few basic poses to start. Remember to consult a yoga instructor and check with your physician before beginning any new exercise routine.

Cat Pose

Begin in tabletop position—palms and knees on the floor with your back flat. Inhale and lift your chin and tailbone up to create a concave back. Then reverse the stretch, tucking the chin and tailbone down and rounding your back like a cat arching its back.

Kneeling Superman

From tabletop position, raise your left arm and stretch it out straight in front of you. At the same time, lift and stretch your left leg behind you. Keep your stomach muscles tight and hold for three to six rounds of deep breathing. Repeat with your opposite arm and leg. This pose helps strengthen bones and build core strength for better balance.

Downward Facing Dog

This is a great stretch for the whole back of your body. From tabletop position, lift your tailbone toward the ceiling while pressing your heels toward the floor to lengthen hamstrings. Keep your head in line with your spine by aligning ears with your arms.

Child Pose

From the tabletop position, press your butt back, resting your seat on your heels. Extend your arms straight out in front of you or rest them at your side. This helps round your back and relax your shoulders.

Lori Brothers has 20 years of experience as a healthy lifestyle educator and yoga instructor. She currently teaches community yoga classes at Jameson Hospital in New Castle, Pa.

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