Are You Interested In Doing Hatha Yoga?
We’ve all heard the phrase and often have seen the mats people carry around with them to and from their Hatha Yoga Classes. But can yoga really help improve your health and fitness levels?
The answer is yes, definitely – provided that you start safely and sensibly, and know what to reasonably expect.
Why Hatha Yoga?
Hatha Yoga can help you get fit quickly and safely because it uses the weight of your body to tone and trim.
It is low impact, and good for people of all ages and body types who want to build their strength and stay fix and flexible.
Myth: Your Too Old For Doing Hatha Yoga
Reality: You’re Never too Old for Yoga
Yoga is ideal even for seniors because it can improve range of motion, balance and stability. It also relieves stiffness.
The long lean muscle built through yoga can protect bones and aging joints in order to keep you mobile and injury-free.
Those muscles can also help boost your metabolism so you will burn more calories, which is ideal if you wish to lose weight.
Thousands of Years of Proof That It Works
Hatha Yoga has been used for thousands of years for health, healing and fitness.
It may seem strange or “New Age” to many people, but the reality is that Hatha yoga has been practiced for thousands of years in India and Asia.
The health benefits of a regular Hatha yoga practice include increased:
* Better Concentration
* Body Flexibility
* Long, lean muscle
* Better Stamina
Yoga will help reduce:
* Blood pressure
IMPORTANT! Safety First
Before you start to twist yourself into a pretzel, it is important to put safety first. If you have any underlying health issues, check with your doctor before starting any Hatha yoga exercise program.
Choose a yoga that is low impact, such as Hatha, Kundalini or Vinyasa, compared to the more demanding forms such as Bikram – hot yoga, or Ashtanga.
Be aware of any old or recent injuries and protect your back and knees.
Start with yoga poses that can work your core muscles, such as Mountain, Tree, and the Warrior series of poses, and Plank pose.
A good set of abdominal and back muscles will give your practice stability and help keep you safe.
Don’t believe the myth of “no pain, no gain” in reference to yoga.
That is the surest way to sideline yourself with a potentially serious injury.
After a workout, it is natural to feel a little sore the next day, but if this persists, rest those muscles until the strain in healed.
Practice on a level surface and use a non-skid mat so you do not slip. It will cushion your joints as well when doing your poses.
Warm up before and cool down after with some gentle stretching. Stay warm but not too hot.
Cold muscles will tense can be injured more easily.
15 Minute Hatha Yoga Wake Up Routine Video
Doing Hatha Yoga at Home Safely
It is easy to start a yoga practice at home with just a few basics.
The first is a yoga routine you wish to try, such as a beginner’s DVD or yoga video you can stream on your computer.
Your next important pieces of equipment are comfortable clothes that are not too tight or too baggy, in order to avoid injury.
A good non-skid yoga mat will allow you to practice your yoga safely almost anywhere, such as a carpeted or wooden floor. Choose a thicker mat if you have any joint issues or arthritis. Be sure to place your mat on a level surface to avoid tripping or turning an ankle.
Not every yoga pose requires you to turn into a pretzel, but there are a few yoga props that can support you in certain poses and deepen others. These include:
Strap – A yoga strap can be looped around the soles of your feet to help you deepen your bends. You can also support your leg during leg raises and grip the straps with both hands if you wish to do a stretch with your arms behind your back.
Blocks – Blocks offer support and stability and can be used with certain postures to make them either easier or more challenging. Some people also use them to sit on for long periods of time when holding a pose.
Bolster – A yoga bolster can be used to support the body in a number of ways, sitting or lying down, to help with form and comfort. They come in a wide variety of styles for different purposes, such as supporting your legs or back. They are ideal for making your Corpse pose more comfortable, as either a neck pillow or a support behind your knees.
Yoga Cushion – The most popular cushion is the classic Zafu or medication cushion that looks like a powder puff. Others styles include a crescent-shaped cushion that supports the back and protects the knees. Wedge-shaped cushion that you put under your butt are also good because they stop you from slouching during your seated yoga poses and mediations.
Blanket – Some people like to cover themselves when they are doing the Corpse pose for deep relaxation. Others use the blanket to practice on instead of a mat. Blankets are a good idea for anyone who has musculoskeletal issues, because cold muscles are more tense and therefore more prone to injury. If you don’t use a blanket, put a tracksuit over your yoga clothes before going into Corpse pose.
Other Helpful Tools
In addition to the props listed above, you might also find the following useful:
A Metal Folding Chair – Chairs can be used for balance and certain poses. The chair seat should be upholstered and the chair placed on your mat so you do not slip in any way. A chair is also useful for those who can’t stand up for very long or who wish to try certain upright poses in a seated position without going down onto the floor.
The Walls – Use the walls to steady yourself in different poses, either standing or inverted poses such as shoulder stands. For extra steadiness, use a corner of the room.
When you are first starting yoga, begin slowly and only do what feels comfortable. Warm up and cool down with some stretches at the start and end of each routine. Use reliable websites like Yoga Journal to learn more about each pose you see on the videos, and you will soon have a safe yoga routine to enjoy at home.
If you are using a DVD, work at your own pace.
Pause it as needed. If you are confused, look up the poses online at a reliable site like Yoga Journal.
Enjoy your meditations. Think of them as a mini-break from your daily life even if some of them seem weird. Chanting mantras such as OM might also seem a bit odd, but you will soon notice your body, mind and spirit all becoming in tune with each other.
Don’t skip deep relaxation at the end.
This is usually done lying down in Corpse pose and is a great way to de-stress.
Now that you know what to expect, start a daily yoga practice and see what a difference doing meditation and Hatha Yoga exercises can make to your body, mind and spirit.