Yoga is a practice that in recent decades has not stopped gaining followers. To such an extent that, in November 2014, the United Nations (UN) resolved that every June 21 is celebrated the International Yoga Day.
The UN decision was based on the recognition that yoga “provides a holistic approach to health and well-being” and that “more widely disseminating information regarding the benefits of practicing yoga would be beneficial to the health of the world population”.
There are numerous scientific studies that support these claims. People who practice yoga have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseaseaccording to a meta-analysis conducted by researchers at Harvard University in the United States.
Other reviews of scientific papers confirmed the positive effect of yoga in the treatment of chronic low back painon the general health of older adults (especially in muscle strength, mobilitybalance, and lower body flexibility) and against anxiety.
It is for such positive effects that yoga is a very beneficial activity, which can also be developed by people of practically all ages and for which no previous knowledge is necessary or any other special preparation. In fact, those are some of the keys to its popularity.
Where can someone who has never done it start practicing yoga? Of course, you can go to a center or institution that teaches yoga classes. But it is also possible to start with some simple exercises that can be done at home.
Types of yoga and exercises for beginners
There are currently more than a hundred types of yoga. They all consist of a succession of body postureswhich generally allow you to work on strengthening and flexibility of the muscles and which are combined with breathing exercises and eventually also meditation.
To perform yoga exercises, a few preparatory measures are necessary. First, Wear comfortable clothing, which allows different body postures to be adopted without the person having to think about it. On the other hand, choose a Suitable environmentwith a warm temperature, neither too cool nor too hot.
In addition, care should be taken to a quiet place, which does not reach too many noises from outside. And, of course, there has to be enough space available to spread the mat out on the floor so you can lie down and move around comfortably.
What else do you need to know before launching into simple exercises for beginners? Simply that you have to relax, take a deep breath and be careful: in no case make sudden movements or force. As is often said, you have to “listen” to the body and, therefore, go little by little.
Here are six simple exercises for anyone who wants to start practicing yoga, recommended by the Wellness Channel:
1. Leg curl
After lying on the mat and relaxing for a few moments, bend one of your legs and take it with your hands, trying to bring your knee as close to your chest as possible. The other leg should remain extended. In that position, the person must breathe deeply.
As you inhale, the abdomen expands and presses against the thigh of the bent leg. When exhaling, always gently, the abdomen lowers and that pressure relaxes. In this way, they work the muscles of the lower back and the buttocks.
After a few seconds, extend your leg until it returns to its starting position. After this stretch, it’s normal to feel like this leg is longer than the other. Then the exercise is performed with the other leg, so that both sides of the body work equally.
The beginning of this exercise is similar to the previous one: lying on the floor, one leg is bent until bring knee to chest. But then he turns her leg to the opposite side, helping her with the hand on that side. If you work the right leg, you have to take it to the left and help it with the left hand.
The goal is to get your knee as close to the ground as possible (reminder: never overexert your body). At the same time, the arm on the same side as the bent leg – in our example, the right one – is extended at a right angle, and the head is also turned to that side. All this without taking your shoulders off the ground.
In this way you get the required torque: the lower part of the body tilted to one side and the upper part to the other. It may seem complicated, but the posture should never stop being comfortable.
It doesn’t matter if the torsion is not very pronounced at first: what counts is that the body works (in this case, the lower back, the thighs and the buttocks), while keeping the breath slow and deep. Then return to the starting position and repeat the exercise on the opposite side.
3. Shoulder movements
In this case, the person must stand. Proper stance requires feet slightly apart, with toes angled slightly outward. The body weight should fall on the ankles; all fingers should touch the ground. The arms, relaxed, hang at the sides.
A first activity consists of contracting the shoulders: bring them as close as possible to the ears, and then relax them, so that they drop to their normal position. Everything gently and deep breathing: breathe in as you raise your shoulders and breathe out as you lower them.
The second movement is to throw the shoulders back, expanding the chest, as if the hands wanted to meet behind the back. Breathing follows the same pattern: inhale as you contract your muscles, exhale as you relax them. This helps relax the muscles in your upper back and neck.
4. Torso tilt
The initial posture, in this case, is sitting on the mat. One leg is extended and the other is flexed, so that the sole of the foot of the flexed leg is in contact with the extended one. The closer to the groin, the better, but always pay attention to the advice not to force more than the well-being of the body allows.
Then you have to take the extended leg of the thigh, knee or foot, depending on what the flexibility of the body allows. And then lean your torso toward that leg, breathing deeply and gently. The stretch will be felt at the back of the stretched leg. The exercise is repeated later with the other leg.
5. Twist of the torso
Again, the starting point is sitting, with the legs stretched out and the trunk of the body erect. He places a hand on the outside of the opposite thigh. Let’s say: the right hand on the left part of the left thigh. And the other hand – the left one – rests on the mat, behind his back.
It is about keeping the body twisted in this way, breathe deeply and slowly, feeling how the muscles of the back relax. Then, gently, return to the initial position and perform the same activity, turning the torso to the opposite side.
Finally, a series of activities that are carried out while lying on the mat: raise one leg a few centimeters and contract the ankle, so that the fingers lean towards the torso; raise one arm and clench the fist; in each case, of course, the exercise is done first with the limb on one side and then on the other.
Also lying down, the hips are raised. With the body supported by the heels, back and head, the muscles of the back and buttocks are reworked. Then the shoulders are contracted, bringing them closer to the ears, and then they relax. And he gently turns his head, first to one side and then to the other.
After doing these exercises for beginners, it is a good idea to lie on the mat for a few minutes, breathe gently and pay attention to the different parts of the body, to become aware of how relaxed they are. Then slowly move your hands and feet and get up slowly.
If you don’t want to miss any of our articles, subscribe to our newsletters