Having decided to take up yoga for your health, you need to consider the best environment and preparation.
Practicing yoga first thing in the morning before breakfast is the best time. As soon as you wake up, empty your bowels, shower if you wish, and then begin your yoga practice. The second most conducive time is around sunset in the evening.
Rather than letting one’s rigidity or idealistic attitude prevent one from taking advantage of an opportunity, it is better to do something at a time that suits your schedule. Remember that integral yoga is a balanced approach that states that to get the most out of your yoga practice, you should mix and match the elements of practice that will enhance your spiritual growth and awareness whenever possible.
Yoga postures may be practiced at any time of day, except within 2-3 hours of eating. You can do postures when you feel stiff, tense, tired or hyped up. Just before bedtime, refrain from doing too many over-stimulating positions. Your yoga routine should begin with asanas, followed by breathing (pranayama) and meditation.
Pranayama may be done at any time, except within 2-3 hours after a meal. In some cases, this can be done when tired, tense, or when there is no room for postures. It is best to practice pranayama straight after asanas without interrupting the flow of awareness. Pranayama is a prerequisite for successful meditation.
Meditation can be done at any time when you feel awake and relaxed. You should not meditate within 2-3 hours of eating, when sleepy, or when mentally “hyped”.
In order to increase concentration and awareness, it is best to have fresh air in a quiet, clean environment. Yoga should not be practiced in direct sunlight or after sunbathing. Outside is fine, but you should avoid cold winds and insects. Yoga clothing should be loose and comfortable so there are no restrictions around the limbs.
Exercise at least three hours after eating on an empty stomach.
Under no circumstances should you force your body. Most people ignore this advice. Although the body may not be ready, they force their bodies into the exercises. Such an approach does more harm than good.
Slowly work with your body. Respect its limitations. If you stretch your limits regularly and sensitively, your limits will gradually extend and you will gain flexibility. Eventually, the tension that is preventing you from moving forward will be released by the body. Take a moment to relax in between each practice. Do not do anything if it is uncomfortable.
Any exercise that causes pain should be stopped. Your body is telling you something when it hurts. Sometimes it may simply be a change in the body. In such cases, you simply need to continue (without forcing it), and it will gradually pass. If, however, you are harming a part of your body, you may have to stop and perform some other preparatory exercises before returning to the one you were doing before. Consult a physician or other health professional if you are concerned.
Concentrate on what you are doing and be conscientious. Concentrate on your breath and position while feeling what is happening in your body. When exercising, do not think of anything else or talk to anyone. It would be best if you were alone in the room, without distractions like radios or TVs, so that you could concentrate. In the event that this is not possible, try to focus on yourself and ignore what is happening around you.
You should pay attention to your breathing. Each exercise requires a specific breathing pattern. Breathing is an extremely important part of exercising. The movement itself may not be as important as breathing. During each exercise, be mindful of your breathing and breathe slowly and deeply. In general (with some exceptions), we breathe in when we stretch upward or backward and exhale when we bend downward or forward. Always breathe through the nose, both in and out. Always breathe in through the nose, also eat through the mouth.
As you think of each muscle with its tensions, allow your attention to flow through the body and allow the tension to flow and the muscle to relax. You should finish your exercise series with deep breathing and, if possible, with deep relaxation.
Yoga is suitable for young and old alike. The application of the techniques will vary depending on the practitioner’s abilities. Those with disabilities, severe medical conditions or chronic illnesses should consult their medical practitioner and yoga teacher to assess any potential dangers or difficulties.
You shouldn’t exercise for at least three months after surgery unless your doctor specifically permits it. Unless your doctor has allowed you to begin earlier, you should not resume some exercises for 6 months after surgery. If you suspect internal bleeding or an inflamed appendix, avoid all exercises.
Yoga techniques should never be practiced under the influence of alcohol or mind-altering substances. The practice of yoga does not require any rigid dietary rules. Yoga does not require one to give up smoking, become vegetarian, or be a purist, though I strongly recommend you to get rid of the first bad habit at least! Yoga may help you overcome bad habits you’ve been trying to get rid of for years and align you with your spiritual side, which can help you overcome vices.
In the next few posts, we’ll give you some of the poses that are central to a yoga regimen, or asanas, and give you a good introduction to yoga to get you started!