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Get The Maximum Health Benefits From Yoga By Taking These 15 Precautions

Get The Maximum Health Benefits From Yoga By Taking These 15 Precautions

Want to improve your muscle tone, strength, articulation, sleep, and immune system? Want to reduce your food cravings? Yoga is an ideal activity for all of this and much more. Many people report that they are less prone to cramps and can improve their flexibility by about a third after two months practicing yoga.

If you are suffering from cardiac problems, high blood pressure, lower back pain and depression, yoga can also benefit you.

However, there are a few precautions you need to take to get the greatest benefits and avoid any negative side effects.

1. You are aware of the different types of yoga courses

Many people are now into hot yoga (Bikram) where the exercises are done in a much more vigorous way. The temperature of the room is usually 105° F with a humidity of about 40%. If you have a heart condition or you are pregnant, then this is not the type of yoga for you. Traditional yoga with the emphasis on gentle stretching and deep breathing will be ideal if you have any health issues.

2. You know about prenatal yoga

If you are pregnant, you will be aware that certain types of yoga poses can be extremely beneficial in preparing for the big event. Just concentrating on breathing techniques may help you with shortness of breath and also when you have to manage the labor contractions. The other exercises concentrate on improving balance and flexibility while learning how to stretch gently. You just need to avoid certain back and abdominal poses but if the class is for pregnant women only, this will not be a problem.

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3. You choose a qualified yoga teacher

If there was a national qualifying certification board, then this would be easy. Unfortunately, due to the many different types of yoga available and the multiple training courses, there is no such body.

The best way is to ask a prospective yoga teacher about how and where they got their training. You can also ask if they have accreditation from a well known yoga association. Their answer usually is an indicator of their skills but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. For example, I had a very demanding teacher who used his knees to push my back in order to straighten my spine. I told him that was torture and left his school!

4. You know the best environment for yoga

You may have to do yoga classes indoors. The room should be quiet and free of clutter. Access to fresh air is ideal so outdoors in the summer is great.

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    5. You wear suitable clothes

    Wearing light and loose fitting clothes that you feel comfortable in, is essential. As regard to the fabric cotton, linen, or jersey are suitable. Forget about corduroy, denim or leather.

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    Women need to wear a well fitting top so there are no embarrassing moments when you do an inversion.

    6. You know about eating before and after yoga

    Ideally, yoga is done several hours after eating which is why early morning and evening are favorite times. But I know some people who did a late evening yoga class who had to give up because it disturbed their sleep.

    7. You know the etiquette about footwear

    Most people know that shoes and socks are removed before you enter the yoga room. Check to see where other students are leaving their footwear.

    8. You inform your instructor about any injuries

    Maybe a past injury could cause you some discomfort while doing some of the poses. The best thing is to inform your instructor at the beginning so that she or he can modify some of the movements for you, if necessary.

    9. You practise basic poses at home

    This can help you to gain confidence more quickly. Some of the basic ones recommended are:

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    • Warrior
    • Downward facing dog
    • Upward facing dog

    10. You know your limits

    At the beginning, it is better to take a rest as you may be getting tired. Yoga is all about listening to your body and it is not a competitive sport. You can easily adopt the child’s pose if you feel too challenged by some of the more difficult poses. This will also help you to avoid overstretching or causing yourself any strain.

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      11. You know that yoga is not just for women

      Yoga was actually designed for men and by men. It is definitely not an exclusive women’s club so if you are male, bear that in mind.

      12. You bring your own mat

      Buying a simple yoga mat is a great investment. Why? The mats in the studios tend to be full of germs. They also tend to be rather flat because of overuse so they are not very comfortable to sit or lie on.

      13. You know how to approach a yoga lesson

      Simply put, you are going to arrive in good time and relaxed. You know that you should be hydrated, not be constipated and your diet is not too toxic. Some experts say that drinking a glass of tepid water 20 minutes before your lesson is also a great way to detoxify your body.

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      14. You know where to sit

      Entering a class for the first time can be intimidating. So, choose your place wisely. The front row is for the experts and geeks. Try the second row so that you can see what people around you are doing and try to learn from them. It can be uncomfortable to be in the front row. The back of the class can be difficult as you may not be able to see your instructor clearly.

      15. You know that yoga follows a structured routine

      You are aware that you want to take your body, mind and spirit for a ride. Yoga can benefit you by giving you a sense of lightness, relaxation and ease, if done right. You also know that doing yoga in a haphazard and disorganized way is unlikely to get you results.

      Let us know in the comments how yoga has benefited you.

      Featured photo credit: 2nd Annual Yoga/David Fulmer via flickr.com

      More by this author

      Robert Locke

      Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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      Last Updated on May 22, 2019

      10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

      10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

      There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

      One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

      In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

      Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

      1. Cat Camel Stretch

      Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

      Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

      Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

      Here’s a video to guide you through:

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      2. Go for a Walk or a Run

      This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

      Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

      The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

      Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

      Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

      3. Jumping Jacks

      Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

      Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

      4. Abductor Side Lifts

      Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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      Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

      5. Balancing Table Pose

      This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

      Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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        6. Leg Squats

        Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

        Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

        The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

        7. Push Ups

        You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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        An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

        Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

        This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

        8. Bicycle Crunches

        There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

        Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

        9. Lunges

        Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

        Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

        This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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        10. Bicep Curls

        You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

        Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

        Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

        Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

        Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

        These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

        You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

        Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

        More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

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