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Basic Yoga For Beginners
A Beginners Guide to Yoga

The history of Yoga - What is Yoga - The Basics of Yoga -
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History of Yoga
What is Yoga

Getting Started
How to get started with Yoga
Where and What to Wear for Yoga
When and How Long should you do Yoga
Yoga Props
Yoga Basic Session
Yoga Practices and Cautions

Yoga Basics
Yoga Exercise and Poses
The Sequence of Yoga Asanas

Basic Yoga Workout for Beginners - Easy to follow Video Tutorial

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Frequently Asked Questions

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The History of Yoga

An Overview of the Yoga History

We might already have an idea of what Yoga is but to understand it better, we have to know what it has become as well as its roots and beginnings.


A quick look at the history of Yoga will help us appreciate its rich tradition and who knows, it might help us incorporate Yoga into our lives.

Although Yoga is said to be as old as civilization, there is no physical evidence to support this claim. Earliest archaeological evidence of Yoga's existence could be found in stone seals which depict figures of Yoga Poses . The stone seals place Yoga's existence around 3000 B.C.

Scholars, however, have a reason to believe that Yoga existed long before that and traced its beginnings in Stone Age Shamanism. Both Shamanism and Yoga have similar characteristics particularly in their efforts to improve the human condition at that time. Also, they aim to heal community members and the practitioners act as religious mediators. Though we know Yoga as focusing more on the self, it started out as community-oriented before it turned inward.

For a better discussion of the history of Yoga, we could divide it into four periods: the Vedic Period, Pre-Classical Period, Classical Period, and Post-Classical Period.

Vedic Period


The existence of the Vedas marks this period. The Vedas is the sacred scripture of Brahmanism that is the basis of modern-day Hinduism. It is a collection of hymns which praise a divine power. The Vedas contains the oldest known Yogic teachings and as such, teachings found in the Vedas are called Vedic Yoga. This is characterized by rituals and ceremonies that strive to surpass the limitations of the mind.

During this time, the Vedic people relied on rishis or dedicated Vedic Yogis to teach them how to live in divine harmony. Rishis were also gifted with the ability to see the ultimate reality through their intensive spiritual practice. It was also during this time that Yogis living in seclusion (in forests) were recorded.



Rigveda ( padapatha ) manuscript in Devanagari , early 19th century    

Pre-Classical Yoga

The creation of the Upanishads marks the Pre-Classical Yoga. The 200 scriptures of the Upanishads (the conclusion of the revealed literature) describe the inner vision of reality resulting from devotion to Brahman. These explain three subjects: the ultimate reality (Brahman), the transcendental self (atman), and the relationship between the two. The Upanishads further explain the teachings of the Vedas.



Yoga shares some characteristics not only with Hinduism but also with Buddhism that we can trace in its history. During the sixth century B.C., Buddha started teaching Buddhism, which stresses the importance of Meditation and the practice of physical postures. Siddharta Gautama, the first Buddhist to study Yoga, achieved enlightenment at the age of 35.

Later, around 500 B.C., the Bhagavad-Gita or Lord's Song was created and this is currently the oldest known Yoga scripture. It is devoted entirely to Yoga and has confirmed that it has been an old practice for some time. However, it doesn't point to a specific time wherein Yoga could have started. The central point to the Gita is that - to be alive means to be active and in order to avoid difficulties in our lives and in others, our actions have to benign and have to exceed our egos.

Just as the Upanishads further the Vedas, the Gita builds on and incorporates the doctrines found in the Upanishads. In the Gita, three facets must be brought together in our lifestyle: Bhakti or loving devotion, Jnana which is knowledge or contemplation, and Karma which is about selfless actions. The Gita then tried to unify Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga and it is because of this that it has gained importance. The Gita was a conversation between Prince Arjuna and God-man Krishna and it basically stresses the importance of opposing evil.

Classical Period

  The Classical Period is marked by another creation - the Yoga Sutra. Written by Patanjali around the second century, it was an attempt to define and standardize Classical Yoga. It is composed of 195 aphorisms or sutras (from the Sanskrit word which means thread) that expound upon the Raja Yoga and its underlying principle, Patanjali's Eightfold path of Yoga (also called Eight Limbs of Classical Yoga). These are:
  1. Yama, which means social restraints or ethical values;
  2. Niyama, which is personal observance of purity, tolerance, and study;
  3. Asanas or physical exercises;
  4. Pranayama , which means breath control or regulation;
  5. Pratyahara or sense withdrawal in preparation for Meditation;
  6. Dharana, which is about concentration;
  7. Dhyana, which means Meditation; and
  8. Samadhi, which means ecstasy.

Patanjali believed that each individual is a composite of matter (prakriti) and spirit (purusha). He further believed that the two must be separated in order to cleanse the spirit - a stark contrast to Vedic and Pre-Classical Yoga that signify the union of body and spirit.

Patanjali's concept was dominant for some centuries that some Yogis focused exclusively on Meditation and neglected their Asanas. It was only later that the belief of the body as a temple was rekindled and attention to the importance of the Asana was revived. This time, Yogis attempted to use Yoga techniques to change the body and make it immortal.

Post-Classical Yoga

At this point, we see a proliferation of literature as well as the practice of Yoga. Post-classical Yoga differs from the first three since its focus is more on the present. It no longer strives to liberate a person from reality but rather teaches one to accept it and live at the moment.

  Yoga was introduced in the West during the early 19th century. It was first studied as part of Eastern Philosophy and began as a movement for health and vegetarianism around the 1930's. By the 1960's, there was an influx of Indian teachers who expounded on Yoga. One of them was Maharishi Mahesh, the Yogi who popularized Transcendental Meditation . Another one is a prominent Yoga Guru Swami Sivananda. Sivananda was a doctor in Malaysia and he later opened schools in America and Europe. The most prominent of his works is his modified Five Principles of Yoga which are:
Krishnananda and Sivananda (right), circa 1945    
  1. Savasana or proper relaxation;
  2. Asanas or proper exercise;
  3. Pranayama or proper breathing;
  4. Proper diet; and
  5. Dhyana (in Buddhism / Hinduism) or positive thinking and Meditation
Sivananda wrote more than 200 books on Yoga and Philosophy and had many disciples who furthered Yoga. Some of them were Swami Satchidananda who introduced chanting and Yoga to Woodstock; Swami Sivananda Radha who explored the connection between psychology and Yoga, and Yogi Bhajan who started teaching Kundalini Yoga in the 70's.

Up to this day, Yoga continues to proliferate and spread its teachings, crossing the boundaries of culture and language.

What is Yoga

Definition of Yoga and the Six Branches of Yoga

Yoga is an ancient Indian body of knowledge that dates back more than 500 years ago. The word "Yoga" came from the Sanskrit word "yuj" which means "to unite or integrate." Yoga then is about the union of a person's own consciousness and the universal consciousness.

  Ancient Yogis had a belief that in order for man to be in harmony with himself and his environment, he has to integrate the body, the mind, and the spirit. For these three to be integrated, emotion, action, and intelligence must be in balance. The Yogis formulated a way to achieve and maintain this balance and it is done through exercise, breathing, and Meditation - the three main Yoga structures.
  In Yoga, the body is treated with care and respect for it is the primary instrument in man's work and growth. Yoga Exercises improve circulation, stimulate the abdominal organs, and put pressure on the glandular system of the body, which can generally result to better health.

Breathing techniques were developed based on the concept that breath is the source of life. In Yoga, students gain breathing control as they slowly increase their breathing. By focusing on their breathing, they prepare their minds for the next step - Meditation.

There is a general misconception that in Meditation, your mind has to go blank. It doesn't have to be so. In Meditation, students bring the activities of the mind into focus resulting in a 'quiet' mind. By designing physical poses and Breathing Techniques that develop awareness of our body, Yoga helps us focus and relieves us from our everyday stress.

Six Branches of Yoga

  • Hatha Yoga or Yoga of Postures
    Hatha Yoga is perhaps the path of Yoga you are most familiar with since this is the most popular branch of Yoga in the West. This branch of Yoga uses physical poses or Asana, Breathing Techniques or Pranayama, and Meditation to achieve better health, as well as spirituality. There are many styles within this path - Iyengar, Integral, Astanga, Kripalu, and Jiva Mukti to name a few.

    If what you want is a peaceful mind and a healthy body to go along with it, Hatha Yoga may just be the path for you.
  • Bhakti Yoga or Yoga of Devotion
    Bhakti Yoga is the path most followed in India. This is the path of the heart and devotion. Yogis who practice this branch sees the "One" or the Divine in everyone and everything. Bhakti Yoga teaches a person to have devotion to the "One" or to Brahma by developing a person's love and acceptance for all things.
  • Raja Yoga or Yoga of Self-Control
    Raja means "royal". This path is considered to be the King of Yoga and this may be due to the fact that most of its practitioners are members of religious and spiritual orders. Raja Yoga is based on the teachings of the Eight Limbs of Yoga found in the Yoga sutras.

    A Raja Yogi sees the self as central, and as such, respect to oneself and for all creation are vital to this path. They achieve self-respect by first learning to be masters of themselves.

    If you wish to learn discipline, then Raja Yoga would perfectly suit that need.
  • Jnana Yoga or Yoga of the Mind
    Jnana Yoga is the path of Yoga that basically deals with the mind, and as such, it focuses on man's intelligence. Jnana Yogis consider wisdom and intellect as important and they aim to unify the two to surpass limitations. Since they wish to gain knowledge, they are open to other philosophies and religion for they believe that an open and rational mind is crucial in knowing the spirit.
  • Karma Yoga or Yoga of Service
    Karma Yoga is the path of service for in this path, it is believed that your present situation is based on your past actions. So by doing selfless service now, you are choosing a future that is free from negativity and selfishness. Karma Yogis change their attitude towards the good and in the process, change their souls, which leads to a change in their destiny.
  • Tantra Yoga or Yoga of Rituals
    Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the paths, Tantra Yoga is about using rituals to experience what is sacred. Although sex is a part of it, sex is not the whole of it since this path aims to find what is sacred in everything we do. Tantra Yogis must possess certain qualities like purity, humility, devotion, dedication to his Guru, cosmic love, and truthfulness among other things.

    There are still a lot of misconceptions about Yoga, for instance, Yoga being a religion. Yoga is not a religion. It is more of a set of techniques for us to find spirituality. In fact, Yoga is being practiced by a lot of people from different religions like Christians, Jewish, Buddhists, and Muslims.

    Another misconception is that Yoga is an exercise, a way for us to keep fit. It is partly true, but if you think that Yoga is just that then you are greatly mistaken. Yoga develops the body since a weak one is a hindrance to spiritual growth. It does not simply focus on the physical but on the mental and spiritual aspects as well.

The four main paths of Yoga are Karma Yoga , Jnana Yoga , Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga . A committed practitioner of yoga is referred to as a yogi , yogin (masculine), or yogini (feminine).


Yoga in Your Life

You may ask, "Is Yoga for me?"

Definitely, yes! Yoga is for anyone who is willing to learn its ways and ideas. It does not actually require any special equipment or clothing. What it requires is your will to have a healthier, stress-free self.

You may first approach Yoga as a way to achieve a great body or to keep fit and that is perfectly alright. Yoga really does help in improving your health for stretching can tone your muscles and exercise your spine and your entire skeletal system.

  Do not just take advantage of what Yoga can offer. Yoga encourages you to reflect on yourself and to find your inner peace. It exercises not just your body but your mind as well. With a healthy body and mind, you're on your way to a more fulfilling life.

What style of yoga should you choose?

If you are completely new to yoga and don't know where to start, it is recommended that you try Hatha yoga first. You will learn the basic yoga asanas or postures, pranayama or breathing exercises, and so on in Hatha Yoga, which will help you with the various other styles of yoga practices offered in different classes.

All yoga styles are said to eventually lead to the same goal; you can consider the various styles as different paths toward the same destination - to achieve a healthier mind and a healthier body, and enlightenment ultimately.

Different styles emphasise on different aspects in a yoga practice, like body alignment, breath and flow of movement. Which style is suitable for you really depends on your personal preference and level of fitness. Try a few different styles and continue with the one(s) that you feel most comfortable with.

Getting Started


Getting Started with Yoga

How to get started with Yoga

You basically do not need anything to practice Yoga. The important thing is the attitude - a big heart and a small ego. Some loose fitting clothes or no clothes at all, and a small secluded spot in your house will be enough for you to start with. A balanced diet (sattwik) also aids a great deal in Yoga Practice. A four hour interval between meals is advised. Practicing with a mat, a blanket and a pillow is recommended. Wear a stretch suit or something similar.

To get to know the Basic Yoga Postures or Asanas , you can get them from this website or download an Introduction to Yoga book, or watch the video tutorial below. There are lots of Yoga Information sources available.


Where and What to Wear for Yoga

One of the advantages of Yoga is that it can be practiced almost anywhere, without special equipment, and by people of all ages. In looking for a studio, choose a place that is relatively free from distractions, the place should be quiet, clean and well ventilated. Using a mat, a blanket, or towel will provide support and added comfort when you do lying or sitting positions. It's best to wear loose or stretch clothing, such as shorts, sweat clothes, or leotards. Yoga is traditionally practiced barefoot, however, socks or soft-shoes can be put on.

It is also best to practice Yoga on an empty stomach or about one or two hours after a full meal. Empty your stomach, clean your nostril and throat, and consume a glass of warm water 15 minutes before you start. You may eat fruit, energy bar, drink a glass of juice or water an hour before class to avoid getting really hungry during practice.

When and How Long should you do Yoga

Practicing first thing in the morning is an excellent way to revitalize the mind and body, while practicing Yoga Breathing and Meditation Exercises at night helps induce a deep, restful sleep.

Like in regular exercise, you always start with easy poses to condition your body for the more difficult exercises that follows. Do not strain yourself. Pause when you feel pain or fatigue. Relaxing in between difficult exercises is also beneficial. Yoga Sessions need not be lengthy, but should be done daily. As little as 15 minutes of exercises and 15 minutes of Breathing and Meditation each day can yield benefits.

Yoga Props

As mentioned earlier, you basically do not need anything in order to Practice Yoga. All you need is the attitude - the desire to expand your self awareness. But this does not completely eliminate the need for the different Yoga Props. These props help you achieve the proper alignment, balance and make the pose a bit easier. The use of props also minimizes the strain and supports your muscles, thus allowing you to save your energy by exerting less effort on a pose. Yoga props help people with Medical Ailments and the Elderly to cross their limitations. The props provide support, enabling them to do the poses that their ailments or old age prevent them from doing.

Here are some Yoga Props to start with:

  • non-slip mat strap or belt cotton or wool blanket chair with arm rests
  • wooden or foam block or a phone book

Basic Yoga Session

A Basic Yoga Session need not take too long. A basic session usually follows this order:
  • Warm-up Exercises - conditions your body for safe transition into asana practice. For beginners, you may just use the warm-up poses as your entire practice. Warm-up exercises open the shoulder muscles, the spine, the hips, the lower back, and the groin.
  • Standing Poses - for alignment of the feet and the body. Opens the hips, stretches the legs, add strength to your back and increases your range of movement. Standing poses facilitates digestion, blood circulation and is good for those who want to lose weight.
  • Sitting Poses - sitting poses allows you to infuse with the breath and prana, and to revitalize from a pose by giving you a calm and quiet feeling. These poses greatly contribute in shaping your buttocks and legs, and in adding vitality and suppleness to the spine.
  • Twists - twist exercises releases the tension in your spines, relieves backaches and makes your shoulders more flexible. It also facilitates in the circulation of blood and nutrients in the body making it necessary for the health of the inter-vertebral discs.
  • Supine and Prone Poses - these poses releases tension in your abdomen and increase the mobility of your spine. It restores strength in your back, arms and legs, and releases your hips and groins.
  • Inverted and Balance Poses - inverted and balance poses defies gravity and develops coordination, increase stamina and strength, and improves grace, agility and poise. It also improves you concentration and focus since being quiet is necessary to be able to do these poses.
  • Backbends - backbends are the poses that benefit the adrenal glands and the kidney. It also releases tension in the front body and in your shoulders and pelvic girdle, and improves the flexibility of your spine.
  • Finishing Poses - these are the cooling-down exercises for Yoga.

Yoga Practices and Cautions

When performing the asanas, try to concentrate on each movement - the process of moving is just as important as attaining a given position. Remember that you should not strain or continue holding any Yoga posture if it causes pain. Yoga isn't a competitive sport, and the extent of the stretch is less important than the technique.

Each asana may be repeated up to three times, but it is better to perform a posture once correctly than repeating it three times quickly and sloppily. Try to perform the poses in the prescribed order, since the routine is meant to help balance the different muscle groups.

Yoga Basics

Basic Yoga Session - Yoga Exercise and Pose

Set your gym equipment aside. Yoga Exercise will only require you 30 minutes each day, a Yoga Mat or blanket, and a small exercise space.You might be surprised to learn that your body can actually do things you did not think possible. Take the wide range of Yoga Poses that can help an individual attain a high level of self-awareness, balance, and strength. The seven primary types of movements that your body can make through Yoga exercise are flexion, extension, hyperextension, abduction, adduction, rotation, and circumduction. You can do a combination of these movements to have a stronger, more flexible, and balanced body.

Yoga is one good way of relaxation. It can ease the tension building in your muscles and joints without experiencing fatigue and overexertion. The Yoga exercise is also believed to make a practitioner look younger. The basic yoga moves involved in the poses and exercises will provide inner peace and radiant health.

These are some of the things to keep in mind before indulging into Yoga Exercise :
  • Know your body limits. If you want to enjoy the activity, don't push too hard. This could also avoid hurting yourself in the process. It is advisable to start with a teacher so you will be guided on the yoga basic positions. If that is not possible, good books or videos on Yoga Exercise can help you get started.
  • Consult a health professional before starting to do the exercises, especially if you have certain medical conditions.

The Asanas or the Yoga Poses usually start in breathing slowly and deeply, concentrating your mind, and making yourself centered. Remember that your body movements and breathing must be coordinated until such time that they are one and the same. Your breathing will also be your guide on when to start or stop the Yoga Exercise. Coming into a pose, holding it, and coming out of it must be continuously done with gracefulness.

The Sequence of Yoga Asanas

Yoga Exercise - Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Yoga Exercise - Corpse Pose (Savasana)
The Corpse Yoga Pose is considered as a classic relaxation Yoga Pose and is practiced before or in between Asanas as well as a Final Relaxation. While it looks deceptively simple, it is actually difficult to perform. Learn more on how to do it with the help of this article.
Seated Poses - Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
This is one of the classic Meditative Poses and is usually performed after doing the Corpse Pose. The Easy Pose helps in straightening the spine, slowing down metabolism, promoting inner tranquility, and keeping your mind still.
Warm-Up Poses - Neck Exercises

Neck Exercises
Many people hold tension in their necks and shoulders, leading to stiffness, bad posture, and tension headaches. Yoga practice can ease tension, increase flexibility, and tone the muscles. Learn some Neck Exercises in this section.
Warm-Up Poses - Shoulder Lifts

Shoulder Lifts
Many people hold tension in their necks and shoulders, leading to stiffness, bad posture, and tension headaches. Yoga practice can ease tension, increase flexibility, and tone the muscles. This section covers the steps on how to practice Shoulder Lifts.
Warm-Up Poses - Eye Training
Eye Training
Like any other muscles, the eye muscles also need exercise to be healthy and strong. By moving the eyes in every direction, without turning your head at all, these Five Yoga Eye Exercises will strengthen the eye muscles, help prevent eyestrain, and improve eyesight.
Standing Poses - Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
The Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar is a Yoga Pose which limbers up the whole body in preparation for the Yoga Asanas. It is a graceful sequence of twelve Yoga positions performed as one continuous exercise. Learn how to practice Sun Salutation in this section.
Supine Poses - Double Leg Raise

Double Leg Raises
A Double Leg Raise is similar to a Single Leg Raise, only this time, you will raise both legs. In doing this Yoga Pose, make sure that the full length of your back is resting on the floor and your shoulders and neck are relaxed. This section covers the steps and guidelines on how to do this pose properly.
Inverted Postures and Balance Poses - Headstand (Sirshasana)

Headstand (Sirshasana)
Headstand is one of the basic postures in the world of Yoga and is considered as the king of Asanas because of its numerous effects on the entire body. Many Yogis believe that practicing the Headstand can help in treating illnesses.
Inverted Postures and Balance Poses - Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)

Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)
In the Shoulder Stand, your body is resting on your shoulders. This Yoga Pose improves circulation, strengthens the abdominal area, and stimulates the thyroid gland. In this section, learn how the Shoulder Stand is performed.
Inverted Postures and Balance Poses - Plough Pose (Halasana)

Plough Pose (Halasana)
The Plough Pose stretches your spine, thus, improving spinal flexibility. It benefits the thyroid gland and abdomen, eases tension in the shoulders and back, and reduces stress. Learn how to practice the Plough Pose in this section.
Backbends - Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
This Yoga Pose strengthens the spine and helps in building core and lower body strength. In this section, know how to perform the Bridge Pose. Keep in mind, though, that this pose should not be done by people who are suffering from serious back or knee injury.
Backbends - Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
The Bow Pose resembles an archer's bow. It strengthens the muscles in the back area, improves posture, and helps in dealing with several gastrointestinal problems. Take note that this Yoga Pose is not for people who are suffering from serious neck or back injury.
Backbends - Locust Pose (Salabhasana)

Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
If the Cobra Pose works mainly on the upper back, the Locust Pose targets the lower part. This posture also strengthens the abdominal area, arms, and legs. Another thing that makes it different from many poses is that it entails rapid movement. Check out how it is done in this section.
Backbends - Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Doing the Fish Pose relieves stiffness of the neck and shoulder muscles and improves flexibility of your spine. It is the counter-pose of the Shoulderstand. Hold the Fish Pose for at least half the amount of time you spent in the Shoulderstand in order to balance the stretch.
Seated Poses - Seated Forward Bend (Paschimothanasana)

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimothanasana)
Relax your body and mind, stretch your hamstrings, shoulders, and spine, relieve stress, and improve your posture and concentration by practicing the Seated Forward Bend. Learn how to do this properly and achieve maximum results.
Backbends - Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
This Yoga Pose improves spinal flexibility and strengthens the muscles in the arms and back. In addition, it is effective in relieving menstrual irregularities and constipation. Learn how to perform the Cobra Pose in this section.
Twist Yoga Poses - Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
If done properly, the Half Spinal Twist lengthens and strengthens the spine. It is also beneficial for your liver, kidneys, as well as adrenal glands. Practice this Yoga Pose under the supervision of a Yoga instructor. In this section, learn how to perform the Half Spinal Twist.
Inverted Postures and Balance Poses - Crane Pose (Bakasana)

Crane Pose (Bakasana)
Develop your sense of balance, coordination and concentration and strengthen your arms, hands, shoulders, and abdominal muscles by doing a Crane Pose. This Asana also gives an active stretching to the back. In this section, learn how to do this pose.
Standing Poses - Hands to Feet (Pada Hastasana)

Hands to Feet (Pada Hastasana)
The Hands to Feet Pose or Pada Hastasana gives many of the same benefits as the Forward Bend - trimming the waist, restoring elasticity to the spine, and stretching the ligaments of the legs, especially the hamstrings. Learn how to do the Hands to Feet Pose in this section.
Standing Poses - Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)   Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
In Hindu art, the triangle is a potent symbol for the divine principle, and it is frequently found in the yantras and mandalas used for meditation. The Trikonasana or Triangle Pose concludes the Yoga Postures in our basic session.
Yoga Exercise - Final Corpse

Yoga Exercise - Final Corpse
For you to appreciate the benefits of relaxation, you should first be familiar on how it is to be tense. This is what happens when you do the Final Corpse. Everything related to that position including suggestions on how to do it is discussed in further detail in this article.

Basic Yoga Workout For Beginners
Easy to Follow Yoga Practices

Basic Yoga Workout For Dummies

Video Tutorial (Playlist)


Basic yoga workout for dummies

This non-intimidating program explains yoga in an easy-to-understand language. Not only can you change your body by using this video but you may even change your mind about yoga. Anyone can do yoga, regardless of age or fitness level, and you can too! This program will demystify the mystical so that you can experience the fabulous benefits of yoga.

Basic Yoga For Dummies offers step-by-step instruction for the 12 essential yoga postures and makes it easy to practice at your own level. The program incorporates standing, sitting, and laying down poses to increase muscle tone, enhance flexibility, and provide relaxation. This video also includes a bonus intermediate yoga workout for when you're ready to move past the basics.

Discover how to:
- Master the 12 essential yoga postures
- De-stress and relax through yoga practice
- Experience the benefits of proper yoga breathing techniques
- Build strength and muscle tone by using yoga postures

The video playlist that follows includes more yoga instruction video's, yoga classes and yoga-, relaxation and meditation music

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Yoga
by Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D

1. What is Yoga?
Yoga is the unitive (spiritual) tradition within the great cultures of Hinduism, Buddhism,
and Jainism native to India. Today Westerners are often practicing Yoga techniques
(especially postures) divorced from their traditional (sacred) background. Although the
Yoga postures are very effective for maintaining and even restoring one’s physical
health, the true power of Yoga lies in its capacity as a path to lasting happiness and
inner freedom.

2. What does the term yoga mean?
Yoga, a word from the ancient Sanskrit language, has many meanings. Of these, two
meanings are particularly relevant in regard to the yogic tradition: union and discipline.
Hence Yoga has been called unitive discipline. (Sanskrit, which belongs to the IndoEuropean language group, is the language in which most traditional Yoga texts are

3. What is a yogi?
A yogî (grammatical stem: yogin) is a male practitioner of Yoga. A female practitioner is
called yoginî. Both terms are from the Sanskrit language (see under #2).

4. What is a guru?
The Sanskrit word guru means literally “heavy” or “weighty.” A guru is someone whose
council is weighty or highly significant, that is, who is a teacher. According to an esoteric
explanation, the syllable gu represents darkness and the syllable ru stands for (but does
not mean) removal. Thus a guru is a dispeller of spiritual darkness.

5. Do I need a guru to practice Yoga?
It depends on what you wish to accomplish. If you are primarily or exclusively interested
in learning postures or breathing techniques, it is sufficient to have the guidance of a
qualified Yoga instructor, at least until you have learned how to perform them correctly.
But if you intend to pursue Yoga as a spiritual path, you need to be initiated and guided,
which calls for a guru.

6. How do I find a guru?
There is an old adage that states “When the disciple is ready, the teacher will come.”
Essentially, this appears to hold true. We find a guru—or rather the guru finds us—when
we duly prepare ourselves. We can practice Yoga’s moral disciplines and many other
practices without initiation. It is better to come to a Yoga master with a healthy moral
outlook and no major psychological problems.

7. What is the goal of Yoga?
Yoga’s highest purpose is to help practitioners in realizing true happiness, freedom, or
enlightenment. However, Yoga has a number of secondary goals, such as physical
health, mental harmony, and emotional balance. In its most integrated form, Yoga seeks
to unlock our full human potential.

8. What is meant by freedom or liberation?
According to Yoga, at the deepest (or highest) level of our being, we are perfectly free.
But this is not our everyday experience. In our ordinary state of consciousness, we are
subject to all kinds of limitations and, most significantly, experience suffering (duhkha).
Yoga is the means by which we can discover our innate freedom, and this is
accomplished through an extensive process of self-purification; the cleansing of the
mirror of the mind. So long as the mind is clouded, we believe ourselves to be limited
individuals with a unique personal center (the ego or “I”). All our suffering arises from this
false egoic identity. When the ego is transcended, we simply abide in and as our true
nature, which is superconscious, unconditional, and free from suffering. This condition is
variously called moksha, mukti, apavarga, kaivalya—all meaning essentiall “freedom” or
“liberation.” Some authorities speak of this as “enlightenment” (bodhi). It should be
clearly understood, however, that this is not merely a temporary experience. Liberation is
a once-and-for-all state of complete ego-transcendence. It also is known as Selfrealization or God-realization, though some schools of Yoga make a distinction between
these two, arguing that Self-realization is a lower type of spiritual attainment whereas
upon God-realization, we find our true identity (the Spirit) as being a part of the
omnipresent, omnitemporal Being that we call God or the Divine.

9. What is meant by the Self?
This question is relevant only to Hindu Yoga, as Buddhist Yoga does not subscribe to an
eternal Self. Within a Hindu context, then, the Self (âtman or purusha) is our true nature,
or Spirit, which is recovered when we shun all our misconceptions about ourselves and
the world around us. The Self, or transcendental Self, is our true identity as opposed to
the ego, which is a false center. The ego is our misidentification with a particular bodymind and its belongings. The Self is pure Being-Consciousness free from all delusion, in
fact, abiding beyond the body and the mind. In Patanjali’s Râja-Yoga, or Classical Yoga,
which is dualistic, the Self is called purusha (“man”) and is deemed completely separate
from Nature (prakriti) and all its manifestations or products. In nondualistic (Vedântic)
schools of Yoga, the term âtman is commonly used to refer to the ultimate or transcendental Self. This Sanskrit term literally means “self” or “oneself.” The âtman is
conceived as being singular (eka), whereas—at least according to Patanjali’s Yoga—
there are countless purushas. In other words, the viewpoint of nondualistic Yoga is that
our own true identity also is the true identity of all other beings and things. The âtman is
superconscious, unlimited, eternally free, and possesses all the characteristics that we
usually associate with the Divine.

10. If I don’t aspire to liberation, can I still benefit from Yoga?
Absolutely. Yoga can help at all levels—physical, emotional, mental, moral, and spiritual.
It begins to liberate us from the moment we begin to practice it. At the most ordinary
level, it frees us from ill health and the undesirable emotional and mental states
connected with an unhealthy body. It calms our mind and thus gradually enables us to
see things more clearly—thereby liberating us from wrong or unproductive thoughts or
attitudes. For most people, the traditional yogic ideal of ultimate liberation is too
daunting. Others make a fetish out of it. Really, the soundest approach is to commit to
whatever form of yogic practice and be diligent about it. Then Yoga will unfold naturally,
as will a person’s inner life. It is good to know what our highest human potential is, and
also what the traditional goal of Yoga is, but we should never become obsessive about
this or anything else.

11. Is it ever too late to start practicing Yoga?
The straightforward answer is: No. Yoga has no upper age limit, and people taking up
yogic practice in their eighties have had very positive results in terms of improved health
(through Hatha-Yoga postures and breathing) and mental equanimity (through
meditation). Even bedridden individuals with chronic diseases can still benefit from
Yoga, though the practices must be carefully tailored to their particular needs. Since
Yoga is primarily a spiritual tradition, which seeks to bring about an inner transformation,
in principle all that is required is a positive intent and the capacity to practice mindfulness
(that is, conscious awareness). If someone isn’t able to do bodily exercises, it is still
possible to engage the mind through Yoga. Of course, in such a case one has to adjust
one’s expectations and goals accordingly. At the lower end of the age scale, Yoga has
been found to be beneficial for young children, though their involvement with yogic
practice is necessarily different from that of adults. So long as they are able to pay
attention and execute simple exercises, children can benefit greatly from Yoga.

12. What are the most important Yoga scriptures that I should study?

(1) The Yoga-Sûtra of Patanjali, of which there are numerous translations. We
recommend the translation by James Houghton Woods, which includes two major
Sanskrit commentaries (Vyâsa’s Bhâshya and Vâcaspati Mishra’s Tattva-Vaishâradî).
For a translation containing the transliterated Sanskrit text and equipped with a short
commentary, see Georg Feuerstein's The Yoga-Sûtra of Patanjali and The Yoga-Sūtra:
A Nondualist Interpretation, as well as Brenda Feuerstein’s The Yoga-Sūtra: From a
Woman Perspective Also useful
is The Essence of Yoga by Bernard Bouanchou, which includes many stimulating questions for self-study. See also TYS's 250-hour distance-learning course on
Patanjali's Classical Yoga.

(2) The Bhagavad-Gîtâ, the “New Testament” of Hinduism and the oldest full-fledged
textbook on Yoga, expounding an integral teaching of Karma-Yoga, Jnâna-Yoga, and
Bhakti-Yoga. For a reliable translation see Georg Feuerstein’s The Bhagavad-Gîtâ: A
New Translation, published by Shambhala Publications in 2011.

(3) The Hatha-[Yoga-]Pradîpikâ of Svâtmârâma Yogendra, a classical manual on
Hatha-Yoga, which also gives out the philosophy behind this branch of Yoga. A
complete translation (with all 10 chapters) was done by the late Dr. M. L. Gharote and
published by the Lonavla Yoga Institute, India. This and other rare publications are now
available through a U.K. Branch via the Internet here.

(4) The Tiru-Mantiram of Tirumûlar, a Tamil text that expounds Tantra-Yoga in poetic
form. For a complete translation (in Indian English), see Thirumandiram: A Classic of
Yoga and Tantra by Thirumoolar, edited by Marshall Govindan and published in 3
volumes by Kriya Yoga and Publications in 1993. For an excellent introduction to this
work, see T. N. Ganapathy and K. R. Arumugam, The Yoga of Siddha Tirumular: Essays
on the Tirumandiram. St. Etienne de Bolton, Canada: Babaji’s Kriya Yoga and
Publications, 2006.

13. What are the two top reference works on Yoga in English?

(1) The Yoga Tradition by Georg Feuerstein, published by Hohm Press, which—with its
over 500 large-size pages—is the most up-to-date and comprehensive reference work
on the history, literature, philosophy, and practice of all traditions and branches of Yoga.
It can open the door to a deeper study of Yoga, which is possible through TYS's 800hour distance-learning course on the history, literature and philosophy of Yoga.

(2) The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga and Tantra by Georg Feuerstein (rev. and enl.
edition 2011), which is a unique compilation that provides a systematic overview of the
complex Yoga tradition and all its key concepts. This reference work complements The
Yoga Tradition (3d edition 2008) and should be on the shelves of all Yoga practitioners.

14. Which four books on Yoga theory should an intelligent beginner study?

(1) The Path of Yoga: An Essential Guide to Its Principles of Practices by Georg
Feuerstein, published by Shambhala Publications (2011). Alternatively, The Tree of
Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar, which is an inspiring introduction utilizing the metaphor of the
tree to explain the limbs of the yogic path, is recommended.
(2) Yoga Morality by Georg Feuerstein, published by Hohm Press, which examines the
moral principles and practices of Yoga in the context of our contemporary world and as
they should be applied in everyday life.
(3) The Deeper Dimension of Yoga by Georg Feuerstein, which comprises 78 essays on
a wide range of topics.
(4) Bhagavad Gita by Paramahansa Yogananda (2 vols.), which is a marvelous yogic
commentary on this key scripture accessible to everyone.

14. Which ten books on Yoga theory/practice should an intelligent beginner

(1) The Path of Yoga: An Essential Guide to Its Principles of Practices by Georg
Feuerstein (rev. ed. 2011). Alternatively, The Tree of Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar, which is
an inspiring introduction utilizing the metaphor of the tree to explain the limbs of the
yogic path, is recommended.
(2) Yoga Morality by Georg Feuerstein, published by Hohm Press, which examines the
moral principles and practices of Yoga in the context of our contemporary world and as
they should be applied in everyday life.
(3) Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness by Erich Schiffmann, which
shows how the yogic postures can be done in the spirit of Yoga.
(4) The Yoga of Breath by Richard Rosen, which introduces the art of pranayama
according to the precise and graduated approach of B. K. S. Iyengar. Alternatively,
Donna Farhi's The Breathing Book, which also is a clear instructional guide on yogic
breathing, is recommended.
(5) The Deeper Dimension of Yoga by Georg Feuerstein, which comprises 78 essays on
a wide range of topics.
(6) The Bhagavad-Gîtâ: A New Translation by Georg Feuerstein, published by
Shambhala Publications in 2011 (with the Sanskrit on verso pages).
( 7) Talks with Ramana Maharshi, which is a volume consisting of the incredibly inspiring
conversations that Sri Ramana Maharshi had with visitors to his ashrama, all from the
point of view of Jnana-Yoga and spoken from the vantage point of one of the truly great
masters of the twentieth century.
(8) Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy by Georg Feuerstein, which is a systematic overview of
the teachings of the important but widely misunderstood branch of Yoga called Tantrism
or Tantra-Yoga.
(9) Secret of the Vajra World by Reginald Ray, which is a deep introduction to the world
of Buddhist Tantra-Yoga (Vajrayana).
(10) Meditation for Dummies by Stephan Bodian, which, despite the off-putting title, is a
very useful practical introduction to Yoga's central art of meditation.

15. How important is it to study the theory behind the various yogic practices?
Very important. Would you set about building or repairing your computer without
studying the functions of its various components first?
Since ancient Vedic times, study (svâdhyâya) has been recognized as a principal tool of Yoga. We must learn to control the mind, not merely abandon our God-given gift of rational thinking. Some of the greatest realized adepts of Yoga have had extremely capable minds.
Yoga is a continuum of theory and practice. TYS offers an 800-hour distance-learning course on
the history, literature and philosophy of Yoga based on Georg Feuerstein's The Yoga
Tradition, and also a 250-hour distance-learning course on Classical Yoga.

Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.

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Sources used

Wikipedia: Part of a series on Hindu philosophy | Part of a series on Buddhism | Wiki Category: Yoga | Wiki Yoga Portal | ABC of Yoga - Beginners Guide | Yoga directory | Frequently Asked Questions About Yoga by Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D. | Video Playlist Basic Yoga for Beginners + Yoga Music


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