You probably have heard about yoga and that’s one of the reasons you are reading this. If you have just discovered yoga and wold like to know which yoga poses are right for you and how it can benefit your brain, then you came to the right place.
While there are different yoga poses, it is important to note your level of fitness and see which ones are doable for you. If you are not careful, you might end up getting injured. Of course, it is worth noting that yoga is safe and effective at the same time.
A brief look at how yoga works
Yoga is an ancient form of meditation and exercise. It basically includes gentle and progressive stretches and contortions of the body. Its main goal is to connect the body, mind, and spirit.
According to statistics, there are over 11 million people in the United States who practice yoga.
So, how does yoga work? Yoga uses different body positions and proper posture to improve a person’s health. As a result, yoga strengthens muscles and bones, improves balance, flexibility, and coordination, and enhances general well-being.
Yoga poses for beginners
If you are just starting out, it would be great to start with yoga poses for beginners.
- Mountain Pose
- Downward Dog
- Tree Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Triangle Pose
- Seated Twist
- Pigeon Pose
- Crow Pose
- Child’s Pose
Advanced yoga poses
If you are now ready to take your yoga to the next level, take a look at this advanced yoga poses. Moreover, please don’t force your body to do certain poses immediately. Listen to your body and you will know when you will be ready for the next level of yoga.
- Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya
- Firefly Pose
- King Pigeon Pose
- Shoulder-Pressing Pose
- Lord of the Dance Pose
- Lotus Pose
- Peacock Pose
Yoga poses and how they challenge the body
Every yoga pose is unique, however, they have ultimately one goal and that is to improve your overall well-being.
Here are some of the ways yoga poses can challenge your body:
- Downward Dog – strengthens your core muscles
- Plank – improves balance
- Triangle Pose – enhance flexibility of the body
- Warrior Poses – improve strength and stamina
- Seated Forward Bend – improves the flexibility of the hamstrings, sides, and lower and upper back.
- Bridge Pose – increases the strength of your back muscle
- Child’s Pose – releases tension and de-stresses your body
My first beginner yoga class
If you are thinking of starting your yoga class, it might be helpful to read about the experiences of others.
I can still remember when I decided to try out yoga. I’ve been a struggling to stay healthy but just couldn’t find the right motivation. In our place, we got a lot of yoga classes available and I heard a lot of great classes everywhere. So, as you can imagine, selecting the right yoga class can be difficult for me. However, I have some friends who already were in yoga and I just tagged along.
If you are still in the process of looking for a yoga class, make sure to explore different options. Assess first your needs, preference, and budget. From there, narrow down your list. Ask around and see if your friends can refer you to a class they confidently endorse.
It would also be helpful to visit the studio where your class may take place. Talk to your instructor and determine whether he/she is competent or experienced enough to provide an effective yoga class. If you also feel uncomfortable with that instructor, then you might consider looking for others.
Prepare your yoga gears ahead of time. Some of the things you will need is a gym bag, yoga mat, towel, and tumbler.
Remember that yoga includes a lot of stretching. Thus, be sure you have the right outfit. At first, I felt a little conscious of what I wear since I’m not used to wearing tight clothing. However, our instructor told us to just feel comfortable and wear what makes you feel good.
On my first yoga session, I’m in a class of about 20 people. Most of them are women. We started with breathing exercises and warm up and progressively tried more difficult poses.
The size of the class may also affect the focus you get from the instructor. Therefore, this is also a factor that you need to consider. Thankfully, we are just relatively a small class and our instructor was effective in making sure each of us was able to keep up.
As a beginner, I felt that the yoga poses are doable. Some are tougher to perform since it needs a lot of stretching and you got to hold a specific pose for a longer period of time.
My instructor is thankfully understanding. She is just so awesome and approachable. I think the instructor plays a vital role in having a great yoga experience.
There you have it, my first yoga class experience. I hope by sharing my thoughts and experience, you will also get an idea what to expect from your first class.
Finally, I personally advise that you see your physician before engaging in any physical activity. There might be some restrictions you need to consider before doing yoga poses.
Now that we have covered the poses let’s dig into some of the benefits yoga has on the brain.
Yoga has something to offer to all of us. But did you know that it can directly impact your brain and how it functions?
Your Brain on Yoga
A consistent routine of meditation and yoga can improve thinking skills and will ward off the mental decline that comes with aging. Studies have shown time and again that yoga has the power to transform our minds!
In a study done by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, it found that yoga can fortify the brain’s ability to think. Volunteers underwent 12 weeks of yoga practice. At the end of the trial, sophisticated brain scans revealed that their brains displayed improvements in memory, language skill and attention control. In another study, just 20 minutes of Hatha yoga was shown to improve the speed and accuracy of mental processes!
In a research survey published in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, yoga was shown to help people manage bipolar disorder. The group surveyed declared that yoga was beneficial to their mental health. And one out of five of those stated that yoga was life changing!
Yoga has the power to fight stress and improve mood. It does by providing us with peaceful moments to escape the stress of our daily lives. But that’s not just our opinion, it also happens to be the position of the Mayo Clinic! And there’s research to back that claim up. In a study done at the University of California, Los Angeles, they found that yoga practitioners showed a marked decrease in their levels of stress.
The practice of yoga can help improve emotional resilience and our ability to cope with depression. In yet another study, a group of emotionally distressed women undertook yoga practice twice a week for three months. At the end of the study, the women reported improvements not only in perceived depression, but also reduced anxiety and increased energy and overall well-being!
If you’ve ever felt more centered and happy after a yoga session, there’s a reason why! The act of living in the moment can help to boost your mood. Research shows that mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve our cognitive function. The practice of mindfulness and being in the moment is integral to the practice of yoga. This is why we often encourage reflection during each session!
Poses for Your Brain
Here are just some of the yoga poses that have a direct impact on your brain and wellbeing:
- Bhramari pranayama (Bee Breath): Slow and relaxed breathing can help calm your mind. It aids in letting go of anger, frustration and anxiety. It can also help improve concentration.
- Paschimottanasana (Two-Legged Forward Bend): This pose can help relax the mind by stretching out the spine muscles.
- Halasana (Plow pose): This position helps improve blood flow to the brain. It also stimulates the thyroid gland and strengthens the immune system.
- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose): A great pose to help reduce anxiety and calm the mind.
- Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand): Holding this pose helps to stimulate the thyroid and parathyroid glands. It boosts blood flow to the brain and to the pineal and hypothalamus glands, which increases the production of dopamine and serotonin.
For most people, yoga is more than just a physical exercise. It improves not just your body, but also the mind and soul. So, you if you are looking a total mind-body experience, you might want to try yoga poses. I hope the tips and information from this post will help you through your journey toward wellness.