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Yoga is very fashionable nowadays, and it is a beautiful and healthy fashion. However, following the fashion blindly without understanding the basics of yoga can bring more harm than benefit; thus, I am writing today about the basics you should know before you go for your first yoga session. I like to talk about it; therefore, I hear different stories and experiences; for example, someone says that 'I cannot do yoga because I am not stretched', or 'I went for yoga three times, and I felt tired and not well after' or 'I went to do yoga because I have a bad hip, but after yoga, it got worse, I will never do it again'. So, I'd like to tackle what yoga is and how yoga can help, not harm.
Before Your First Yoga Session
Firstly, when discussing yoga or planning to attend yoga classes, we should know that yoga is not typical physical exercise. Yoga is for everybody of any age and almost any health condition; even more, yoga can heal. However, there are a few basic things that you must know before you go: you only should do what your body allows you to do. Yoga is not a competition between you and others and not even a competition with yourself. Moreover, you do not need to be stretched to do yoga. If you listen to your body and practice regularly, your body will stretch in its own time. It is essential to listen to your body, as yoga can heal but also hurt if you do not listen to your body, especially if you have ongoing conditions. Thus, you should know, and if you don't know, you should ask your yoga teacher if specific asanas (positions) are good or bad for you. For example, if you are a woman, then you cannot do inverted poses during menstruation, or if you have flat feet, or sciatic pain, want to improve bladder control, prevent haemorrhoids, suffer from depression, have knee problems, or bad posture, then Tadasana (Mountain Pose) is great for you, but if you have stress-related headaches, migraine, eye strain, low blood pressure, osteoarthritis of knees, diarrhoea, bulimia, insomnia, and leukorrhea Tadasana is not suitable for you. Thus, in this case, you have so many benefits from practising Tadasana, e.g., it will help you with sciatica. Still, insomnia could aggravate this condition, so Tadasana is not recommended to you.
Once, I did a shoulder stand while on my period and then had a nasty headache. I did not understand why then, but I learnt the lesson when I found the reason.
Also, suppose you are very stiff or suffer from some conditions. In that case, you may use props to aid you during the yoga session and prevent injury. Additionally, props kick the healing process by opening chakras and restoring your health and energy level. When you do yoga correctly and regularly, you may have some unusual experiences, such as leaving your body, extreme relaxation, and a yoga high. So, maybe it is worth considering doing yoga instead of taking drugs to get high and healthy instead of losing your health and being dependent on substances.
Do only as much as you can
Listen to your body; it is rule number one, as no one is in your body; your teacher can observe and monitor you, but you and only you can feel your body. There is no perfect way of doing a pose—everybody has a different fitness, health, and stretching level. For instance, I have had seven operations on my knees. I have severe back problems, so I will never be able to do some asanas 'perfectly', even the simple ones like Easy Sit (Swastika Asana), thus sometimes I use blocks and a blanket to feel comfortable in Swastika Asana, which is one of my favourite asanas. Adding props helps me relax and revitalise my body and mind. Still, a healthy person who has never done yoga before may do this asana 'perfectly' without any problem in the first go. Thus, yoga is not about competition and perfection.
The other important fact is that you must know how to get into and out of asanas. Some asanas look tricky, but if you know the technique and do it step by step, you will be surprised how much you can do. Honestly, you can do even Bed Yoga, I used to do it after my operations, and I still do it when I do not feel well, and it works wonders.
There are many types of yoga; Yin Yoga, Hatha Yoga and B.K.S Iyengar or restorative yoga are great if you want to be relaxed, energised, and refreshed.
However, you can go for Flow Yoga or Hot Yoga if you like something more dynamic.
You can pick what suits you best, especially if you are healthy, but if you have any health issues, do some research and talk to your yoga teacher, who should advise you on what to do and what not to do to help not harm you. Still, yoga is a beautiful practice that improves your health, activates your body, calms your mind and allows you to find yourself.