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How to Prepare for Yoga

Yoga preparation

In order to properly prepare for a yoga session, it will be crucial to make sure that the muscles in your body are loosened up and that you have a completely clear mind. It will also be necessary to make sure that there is absolutely no tension in your body before your yoga session. Although it is true that there is no universal method that works well for everyone, here are just a few ways to accomplish this.

As long as you are able to keep an open mind, you should be able to benefit from the following preparatory exercises.

Relaxed Breathing

It is extremely important that your breathing be completely normal and relaxed so you will be able to benefit from each yoga session as much as possible.

Mountain or Tadasana

Mountain or Tadasana

1. The first thing you will need to do in this exercise is to stand up with your back completely straight and your feet just a few inches apart from each other; you will also want to make sure that your arms are at your sides. Your shoulders should be rolled back and down as you turn each of your hands with the palms facing forward.

2. Next you will want to draw in one very deep long breath, bringing each of your arms up slowly until you are able to put both of them on top of your head with the palms making contact with each other. Make sure to keep this position the entire time that you are breathing in a slow and relaxed manner.

3. Draw in yet another long breath and while you are doing that you will need to start slowly stretching your arms until both of your palms make contact with each other. You will need to stretch as high as you are able to while holding your breath the entire time. Try to stay in this position for just a few seconds and then you can bring your hands back to the top of your head with the palms of your hands still touching each other.

4. Make sure to keep repeating this exercise for 5-10 times while maintaining full control over all of your movements, keeping them graceful and well coordinated so you know exactly what to do. When you are exhaling for the last time in this exercise, you will want to bring your arms to your chest with your palms touching each other. This particular position is called the “Namaste”.

5. It will be important to also close your eyes and chant the word “peace” over and over to yourself in order to create a sort of calming effect. When you are breathing out the next time, make sure to separate both of your palms, bringing them down to your sides again very slowly.

6. You will want to stretch up one more time with each of your palms facing forward while imagining the very top of a mountain for a relaxing mental image. Make sure to do this several times in order to relax and prepare for your yoga session.

Flexibility Exercise

1. For this exercise you will need to stand straight up again with your arms at your sides, taking a deep breath out very slowly. While you are drawing a deep breath in, you will want to lift up your arms so they are at your sides with your palms facing in the forward direction. Keep stretching upwards until both of your arms are at your shoulders.

2. As you are breathing out one more time, you will need to stretch both of your arms as well as your full upper body forward, using your hips to lean outward while making sure that your back is straight and not bending whatsoever.

3. When you start to breathe in, swing your arms upwards while bending back your upper body and knees so that you will be able to stay balanced during this portion of the exercise.

4. Return to your previous upright position and start breathing out slowly. While you are standing up perfectly straight, draw in yet another deep breath and when you start to breathe out you will bend your body sideways to the right while making sure both your hips and shoulders are in alignment with each other.

5. You will then need to start breathing in, returning to the center position and then going to the left to do the same time over again.

6. After you have returned to the center position you will need to start breathing out slowly, making sure that your chest, arms, neck, and head all come forward from your hips; if you feel it necessary you can bend your knees to make it a little bit easier on your body. Start gently swinging your upper body from side to side, doing this two times before returning to the standing upright position. If you complete this exercise successfully, your head will be the least thing to rise back up.

7. Stand up perfectly straight with both of your eyes closed for just a few seconds while you breathe in and out very quietly. Those who perform this exercise usually feel much more relaxed and calm afterwards.

Total Body Stretches

Body Stretches

There is no doubt whatsoever that stretching is extremely important for those who practice yoga because of the fact that it is able to stimulate the flow of blood to the muscles. This can help with releasing a significant amount of tension as well as improve one’s physical performance when doing yoga exercises. When you mix effective body stretches with breathing exercises, you will be able to increase your ability to do certain exercises and become more in tune with your own body.

Keep in mind that you are not stretching before yoga to get a full work out but rather to make sure your body can handle what is to come. You will find that you can stretch the muscles in your body in just about any position, including lying on the floor or even sitting.

The exercises that are listed below will be able to prepare you for your yoga session, both mentally and physically.

Sitting stretches

Sitting stretches

1. The first thing you will need to do is to find a chair with lots of support to sit on while you take long deep breaths through your nose. Make sure to breathe in and out while you are starting on the chair and swing your arms towards the ceiling while they are above your head and palms facing forward. While you are doing this exercise you will need to make sure that your shoulders are not hunched.

2. Take short sharp breaths through your nose and swing your body forward that it is bending over your thighs with both of your arms going from side to side around your legs while your hands are pressed against the floor. During this exercise your chin should be resting below the knees.

3. Start swinging your head gently from side to side in order to get rid of any residual tension which may be in your neck.

4. Return to the sitting position.

5. Keep repeating this particular exercise up to 12 times. After you have finished doing this exercise, you will be able to sit in quiet meditation for just a few moments with your eyes closed and both of your hands on your lap.

Standing stretches

Standing stretches

1. For this standing stretch exercise you will need to start off by making sure that your feet are a foot apart. Exhale and when you are drawing back in a deep breath you will want to swing both of your arms above your head, pushing your pelvis outward. Stay in this position for just a few seconds before moving on to the next step.

2. You will then want to bend your body forwards with your arms all the way down and your head dropping with your hands resting flat against the floor. As you are in the process of doing this, you will want to remember to breathe out using your mouth, exhaling long deep breaths. As you bend forward you will want to make sure that your knees are bending as possible. Take a breath in through and out your nose, making sure that your are comfortable the entire time.

3. As you are breathing in you will want to roll back up to a standing position, pushing back your arms with your palms facing back. Make sure that you are bending your back as far as you can without physically straining it too much. In this stretching exercise your back has to be arched a little bit and you will want to keep this pose for around a minute. You will want to be breathing in and out through your nose as you are doing this.

4. Return to the center position with your arms at your sides and keep doing this exercise over and over for up to three times.

Head, Neck and Shoulder Stretch

A vast majority of us carry around more tension in our neck, head, and shoulders than we actually realize. Over the course of each day it builds up and can affect us in a very real way. Those who have to sit at a desk all day for work tend to carry a lot of tension in their shoulders and neck especially. Although it can start with a harmless stiff feeling, this tension can cause problems with the neck bones later on.

There are certain people who stretch out while sitting at their desk in order to loosen up the muscles, though this can actually cause a great deal of damage to the body over time. Your body absolutely has to be in the right position when you are stretching in order to avoid injury and be effective.

Shoulder Shrugging

You will find that shoulder shrugging is a great and effective exercise for losing some of the tension in the neck and shoulders which can sometimes become a problem. One of the best things about this particular exercise is that you will be able to do it while sitting down or standing so it doesn’t really matter.

1. Start off with your back straight, either sitting or standing, and your head completely centered with your eyes turned forward. During this exercise your hands should start off being by your sides.

2. Take a deep breath in and as you are doing this you will want to shrug your shoulders, going towards your head. Then you will want to take a deep breath out and relax your shoulders, dropping back down to their previous position. You can feel free to repeat this exercise a few times.

3. Go back and forth between your shoulders doing this exercise, lifting up just the right shoulder to the right side of your head and then the left shoulder to the left side.

Neck Easer

Perform the following exercises whenever you find that your neck is starting to get stiff.

1. For this exercise you will want to be sitting in a chair that offers quite a bit of support. Make sure your lower back of pressed firmly against the chair with your head completely centered so you are looking straight ahead.

2. You will also want to let your arms hang as loosely as possible to your sides, relaxing the shoulders completely.

3. Take a deep breath in and out, slowly turning your head from left to right. You should be finishing this movement by the time you fully exhale.

4. Stay in this position for at least another few seconds, making sure to breathe in and out, gently turning your head towards the right. Then take a long deep slow breath in.

5. When you take your next breath outwards, you will want to start turning your head slowly to the left and finishing up with this motion as you exhale completely.

6. Make sure that you are facing forward when you are taking a breath inward. You should be taking a few long slow breaths in so as to relax as much as possible before starting your yoga session.

7. It will then be necessary to go through step 2 again but instead of turning your head to the right you will need to turn it to the left. Stay in this position for just a few sort seconds, making sure to take short but deep breaths in and out. Turn your head even more so to the left, but make sure to do so gently so as not to strain any muscles.

8. Draw in a long breath slowly.

9. Keep doing step 3 until you are back to the forward facing position once again. Also make sure to take in several deep breaths slowly.

10. When exhaling, make sure that your chin is going towards your chest until it has made full contact with it. Start to breathe in and out slowly so there becomes a rhythm to it. Try to gently push your head forward a little farther ever time you exhale.

11. As you inhale you will want to start raising your head slowly until you are in the forward facing position. When you start to breathe out, keep raising it until your head falls backwards ever so gently.

12. The next thing you will want to is to tighten up your jaw and breathe in and out, allowing your head to tilt back a little bit as you exhale each breath. You will want to make sure that you are doing this gently so you do not strain yourself at all.

Stretching the Arms, Torso and Legs

Typically the yoga poses you do will work many different muscles in the body, though sometimes shorter sessions can be dedicated to working very specific areas. It is a good idea for anyone who does yoga or is planning to do yoga to spend a little bit of time stretching and exercising their upper torso area as well as the legs and arms.

You will find that most of these exercises are very good for those who have desk jobs and spend a lot of their time sitting down. It is especially important for those who spend time typing away at a keyboard all day to do some of these arm stretches because it can really help with cutting down on the physical tension which builds up in this area of the body over time. Doing these stretches will also significantly reduce the chances of RSIs or Repetitive Stretching Injuries.

By doing these stretches you will also be able to get some more tone in your chest as well as our abdomen and limbs.

Those who have issues with back pain will especially want to make sure that they do the following exercises on a regular basis. They will help to reduce some of the tension and physical pain that people with these problems sometimes experience.

These stretches can also help to realign the lumbar vertebrae which in turn can help with pain management and preventing certain serious medical conditions which can develop over time and sneak up on a person who is not aware of their own risk factors.

Arm and Hand Stretches

1. As long as you ensure that your back is completely straightened out, you can perform this exercise in a sitting or standing position.

2. Start stretching your arms directly in front of you at shoulder length with both of your palms facing upwards. Make sure not to strain your neck or shoulders while you are going through this step.

3. Bend your arms at the elbow and touch the tips of your fingers to the top of your shoulders. Make sure that your right finger tips are on the right side of your shoulders and left finger tips on left side.

4. Take a nice deep breath in and as you are exhaling you will want to quickly put your hands out directly in front of you at shoulder length.

5. While you keep your arms in place, you will want to curl up your fingers so that they are making fists, squeezing them tight together and quickly extending your fingers outward.

6. Keep repeating this about 10 times and when you are done allow your hands and arms to go limp, shaking them gently for a few minutes at the end.

Hip Hula

Although the Hip Hula can be a very beneficial exercise, those with lower back pain should avoid doing it as it could cause further strain to this area.

1. First you will want to make sure that you are standing with your back completely straight and your feet shoulder length apart. Put your hands on your hips and flex just a little bit at your knees.

2. Try to keep your shoulders as still and relaxed as possible while you push your right hip out very gently and slowly to the right, coming back to the center position. Then you will want to turn your hips to the left and eventually forward. Do this several times until it has been rhythmic for you.

3. You will be able to change this exercise up a little bit by picking up the speed and slowing down to some music. Although focusing on your breathing is not required, it might help you to get the rhythm down faster.

Feet Flexes

1. Sit upright on the floor with your legs stretched out directly in front of you, just a few inches apart from each other. Feel free to place both of your hands on either side of your hips.

2. Wiggle around each toe, moving each of them forwards and backwards. It is important that you not try to move your toes with your fingers; instead make sure that they are each moving by themselves.

3. You will need to bend your right leg, putting the ankle of this leg onto your left thigh so that you have full use of your foot. Grab onto your right foot with your hand, taking the ball of your foot and turning it around several times, moving it backwards and forwards.

4. Take the time to repeat these steps with your left food resting on the right thigh as well.

The good thing about yoga is that it works both your mind and body, helping to clear away physical and mental stress. Those who practice yoga on a regular basis learn how to manage their lives in a better way and become much more peaceful as well as serene. So, why not try taking up yoga today? It might just change your life altogether.

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