How to face a yoga class and prepare yourself in the best way for the practice of asanas, yogic positions
The oriental disciplines, from yoga to karate
- The immense world of yoga
- Yoga clothing and accessories
- The right place for yoga
- Get closer to yoga postures
The immense world of yoga
We often identify yoga as a series of positions held for a given time, but the world of yoga includes many other therapeutic aspects ranging from the recitation of mantras to the position of the hands (mudra), passing through deep meditation, Vedic chants. Yoga is part of a complete Ayurvedic system that represents a very ancient medical system that also includes diet, herbs and massages as well as guided movement with different breathing techniques (pranayama, breath control).
Entering yoga means starting to get to know an anatomy which, in addition to biomechanics and joint physiology, also includes subtle movements, energy mappings that are based on the correct distribution of internal energy also based on the chakras (energy centers). You become more sensitive, flexible and also attentive to the way you eat and the way you think. Meditation helps us to become who we really are and by going inside ourselves we arrive at levels where what goes deep does not scare us. It is about developing internal eyes that are maintained even during practice. Yoga has nothing to do with performing in strange contortion positions, rather by entering each position one discovers better and better in one's physical, emotional and spiritual strength.
Yoga clothing and accessories
What really matters is being comfortable, so not wearing tight clothing would be better, although there are many images of Western practitioners sporting very tight leggings and t-shirts. Choose comfortable and breathable garments, which do not tighten especially at the groin level to leave the pelvis free, preferably made of natural fibers.
Clothing also depends a lot on the style you practice, but in any case it would be better to follow these simple guidelines:
- be sure to have a sweatshirt or blanket next to you in case the lesson includes a part of meditation or final relaxation, as happens in many Hatha Yoga classes;
- it would be advisable to practice barefoot, also to avoid slipping and above all to feel the contact of the plantar arch on the ground and the grip of the fingers;
- in case you practice intense styles such as Power Yoga or similar, it would be better to have a small towel nearby to remove the sweat;
- try to stay comfortable but avoid pants that are too long so that they do not end up under the heel;
- remember, if you are men or women with long hair, to tie them to be able to see the teacher clearly and also enter inverted or upside down positions;
- a separate case: bikram yoga. It is practiced at high temperatures and lessons are often followed in a swimsuit or bikini as it takes place in a heated environment.
It is not part of the clothing but somehow the mattress becomes a garment, a place where the skin slips and lands. Choose carefully the thickness, the material, the eco-compatibility (some reach high prices but the value corresponds to the cost). If some positions are complex, accessories such as bricks are required, as well as bands or elastic bands. The idea of a cushion to put under the sacrum for meditation positions is also excellent.
The right place for yoga
If you follow tutorials or video courses, the best solution remains a free and silent room, also poor in too many objects or cluttering, clothing or things that obstruct the passage of energies. You can open the window well before and after the practice to let air pass well. You may decide to light an incense and put on relaxing frequencies or otherwise practice in silence.
The park or a beautiful garden where you can practice freely as a backdrop is also excellent. Better to avoid too sunny areas in the hours where the rays are more aggressive. Also very nice to practice near a spring or a river or a lake. Also excellent in front of the sea if you are not distracted and the level of concentration remains good. Look for the best hours for you to practice, also based on your circadian rhythm that gives you your internal biological clock.
Always try to make sure that the main meal is lunch, which would be better to eat little in the evening, at least 2 hours before going to sleep. Try to avoid practicing on a full stomach, especially in the morning. Also excellent to evacuate and drink water before starting to practice.
Get closer to yoga postures
If the names of the positions seem complex in Sanskrit, try to learn the Italian names first, which are however evocative of the position. From the ancient writings there are at least 8 million and four hundred thousand different positions. Usually the first sequence with which one comes into contact is the Greeting to the Sun (Surya Namaskara), a sequence that includes 12 steps in which there are bending of the trunk, extensions, stretches, presses on the ground, etc.
Positions should be imagined as something you enter, deeply and slowly. You need the right breathing and some awareness. In the ancient text Yoga Sutra of Patanjali there are many details and descriptions of the asanas and in the essay these positions are defined as: "Sthira sukham asanam" where "sthira" stands for calm, composed, serene, stable, durable and firm. Sukha corresponds to bliss, well-being and joy. The positions must therefore be accepted and taken calmly, with a stable, not rigid structure.
One of the most famous yoga postures? Downward facing dog, also known by the Sanskrit name of Adho Mukha Svanasana (Adho Mukh means "facing down" and Svan means "dog"). In summary, palms and feet are against the ground while the whole pelvis goes up and back. Taking this inverted V position typical of yoga, you enter from the quadruped and you must necessarily connect the backward movement of the hips with breathing and with a slowness that allows the whole body to reach it gently. The same goes for other positions that require you to maintain balance, such as the tree, or for others that require you to arch your back, such as the cobra or half cobra.
These are just some of the numerous positions that allow us to enter into deep contact with the whole body, especially by going to feel the areas that we perceive as misaligned, weak even perhaps due to a previous injury. The final positions should not be seen as instruments of competition with oneself / and with others but as tensions, goals whose approach remains itself a journey that takes place internally.
- What is Vinyasa Yoga and what benefits does it have
- The main positions and the benefits of Hatha Yoga
- Positions and characteristics of Bikram Yoga
- The postures and benefits of Ashtanga Yoga
- What it is and why to practice Yoga Nidra