Sivananda yoga is the perfect place to start your yoga journey. We will cover the basics of relaxation to variations of the moves and explain why Sivananda has something for everyone. In this Sivananda yoga guide for beginners, DOSE writer Demi explains how to achieve the ultimate zen vibe we all need.
What type of yoga is Sivananda?
Firstly, within yoga there are many different types of styles, including Hatha yoga, the classic slow style of yoga, where all yoga styles stem from. Additionally, Vinyasa yoga is a more fast paced style of yoga, where you can get your sweat on. It focuses mainly on the sun salutations and moving through them in an uninterrupted flow. If you’re new to yoga, Sivananda yoga is a great place to start, as it combines both of these styles.
As well as being an effective workout, Sivananda yoga is an amazing relaxation method. With poses being held for longer, it’s essential to relax and learn how to calm and control the breath, giving the mind a moment to re-centre. Despite the effort, Sivananda yoga allows you to feel relaxed and remain calm during the practice, whilst utilising your muscle strength and balance.
The five principles of Sivananda yoga
The Sivananda method is based on five principles. These are; proper exercise, breathing, relaxation, diet and positive thinking and meditation (see below). They are focused on spiritual growth, physical and mental wellbeing.
Proper exercise (asana, focusing on twelve poses)
A yoga posture is called an Asana. They are meant to be held for a longer period of time but in a comfortable way. This method allows your muscles to become stronger, whilst focusing on your energy and mind as well.
Proper Breathing (pranayama)
Yoga breathing exercises are called Pranayama. Prana means energy and by learning to control our breath we can control the flow of energy within our bodies. The yoga scriptures teach us that if we can control our breath we can control our own minds. Conscious breathing practices “can balance, strengthen, and increase the adaptive flexibility of stress response systems, potentially counteracting the detrimental effects of excess stress, neglect, and trauma on emotion regulation, physical health, and the ability to experience love and compassion,” says certified yoga and meditation teacher Richard P. Brown.
Shallow breathing can lead to hunched shoulders and tension in the neck and back. Whereas, deep breathing can give you more control over your nervous system and your reaction to stress.
Our daily lives can be demanding and stimulating. Taking time out for proper relaxation is the break your body needs to recharge. From having a drink with your friends at the pub to watching a movie cuddled up on the sofa, our mind is still stimulated. Allowing your mind to release all mental tension is essential for optimal mental health. In a Sivananda yoga class relaxation is practiced in every asana.
Proper Diet (vegetarian)
A main focus in yoga is finding a balance. This includes your diet. We all know we are what we eat, so choosing healthy and beneficial foods is key for a proper diet. One recommended way of achieving this diet is a vegetarian diet or one which mostly includes plants.
Positive thinking (Vendanta) and meditation (dhyana)
Taking time to practice gratitude and simply switch off promotes deeper relaxation for the mind and body, compared to the usual Netflix and chill we all frequently participate in. Unconscious negative thoughts can impact our mental and physical health. Forcing our minds to focus on positivity can increase energy levels and change our mindsets.
What are the 12 basic asanas?
You must enjoy working slowly and systematically to ace the prescribed Sivananda poses. The Sivananda yoga warm up usually includes relaxation and then the sun salutations. Once the warm up is completed you move onto the 12 Sivananda asanas sequence. These can be advanced with variations. The 12 asanas are:
- Seated forward bend
- Seated spinal twist
- Standing forward bend
The class usually ends with a 10-15-minute relaxation practice. Focused on physical, mental and spiritual relaxation.
The 12 poses may seem like a breeze. However, they’re more challenging than they look. Yoga teaches you to relax your face during the practice and not to allow your body to show any sign of struggle. This allows us to reach ultimate levels of relaxation. The poses stimulate the cardiovascular system, increasing the breathing rate, messaging the digestive organs and stretching and strengthening muscles.
The benefits of Sivananda yoga for beginners
The Benefits of a regularly practiced Sivananda Yoga practice are countless. They can include:
- General good health and well-being
- Tight muscle tension relief
- Increased core strength and stability
- Increased energy levels
- Positive mental attitude, concentration and focus
- Developed mind body soul connection
- Increased flexibility
Yoga tips for beginners
Starting your yoga journey can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to. Make sure you’re in comfortable clothes, have a suitable mat and props to help you out. If you’re new to yoga and want more tips see below or read this article featuring Adam Husler, one of Londons most in demand yoga teachers.
Comfort is key
Being in non-restrictive clothing is essential for yoga. You want to be able to move in any way the poses may demand.
Props are your friends
Don’t be embarrassed if you need props to help you achieve certain poses. For example, blocks and blankets are a great place to start. They’ll help you balance and reduce strain on your body.
Don’t eat too much before
Being bloated before a yoga session isn’t ideal. You want to feel relaxed and free. But make sure you’re hydrated and not hungry.
Yoga for beginners can be daunting, you won’t ace every pose first time. But, don’t let this demotivate you. Yoga is a journey and with regular practice you will feel how your body has adapted to it.
Asanas are suitable for everyone
Yoga has no age limit. The beauty of Sivananda yoga for beginners is that the poses can be done slowly with a focus on relaxation. The asanas can be done wether you’re 10 or 80.
Wether you’re starting your yoga journey or looking for new ways to challenge your mind or body Sivananda yoga is for you. From mental and physical strength to mindfulness and relaxation, the benefits are endless. If you’re up for trying Sivananda yoga, try this 30 minute Sivananda yoga class.
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