Imagine this - you step into your first day at the nearby yoga class, or your personal yoga trainer shows up for the first time, something you have been so looking forward to. Is it exactly how you imagined yoga lessons to be like?

Yes, your muscles will be sore at first, but working mindfully will soon yield some real results.

Any yoga lesson consists of the following common elements:

  • Relaxation
  • Meditation
  • Stretching
  • Breathing exercises

However, you can tune your yoga class according to your needs. Here is one such guide to designing a yoga lesson plan according to the specific needs of your body and mind.

Remember, all you need to get started on yoga is a bit of enthusiasm and motivation!

Search for yoga classes nearby, try them out first before taking the plunge. Most yoga tutors, yoga studios and yoga institutes let you try their services for free for an hour. Don't shy away from at least trying!

Check out Superprof India for the most experienced yoga gurus near you!

Find private teachers for online yoga classes here.

A Brief History of Yoga

Yoga has its roots in the Vedic tradition.

The Sanskrit word yoga has come to denote a means of uniting or a method of discipline. A male practitioner of the discipline is called a yogi or yogin, while a female practitioner is referred to as a yogini.

An Ancient System of Philosophy

Yoga, as a way of life, was first conceived almost five millennia ago. It was developed to help people live better lives and to support them through pain and loss.

In those trying times, it became imperative to cultivate harmony between mind and body and find balance. Yoga was developed as one of India’s six main philosophic systems or “darsana.”

The foundational principle of the philosophic system of Yoga is the Yoga Sutra.

Yoga Sutra

Yoga Sutra is the framework on which all forms of yogic practice are based. Sutra literally means "thread," or "aphorism," roughly translated to a tersely phrased statement of truth.

The second definition of Sutra is "the condensation of the greatest amount of knowledge into the most concise description possible." It is not surprising that yoga is the art of binding together universal truths.

Yoga for stress is a tried and true method.
Meditation is only one of the ways in which yoga helps relieve stress. Photo credit: Bindaas Madhavi via Visual Hunt

What to Expect from Your Yoga Lesson

Teacher training courses in yoga instruct their students to learn yoga in such a way that:

  • Teaches you to live in the present moment
  • Develops your breathing and help you become more conscious of your body
  • Improves the body’s flexibility
  • Works on strength and endurance
  • Enhances your balance

It’s about learning to be conscious of your body and mind in order to better understand your reactions.

Not all types of yoga are good for everybody. A medical opinion can be vital and yoga teachers often ask for a doctor’s approval before taking you on.

Yoga asanas can be very difficult physically.
Some yoga poses can be physically very demanding. Be sure that your doctor approves of practising yoga for your condition. Photo credit: Robert Bejil Productions via

Relaxing with Yoga

Most yoga students take it up as a form of relaxation that helps us forget our daily stress, even if just for a couple of hours every day.

Find out what it takes to be an ideal yoga trainer.

The Starting Point... often just a moment of relaxation. Tell your mind to calm down and try to concentrate on your breathing.

These exercises involve slow breathing that stretches the diaphragm. Your back should be straight to allow you to breathe properly.

Create an Environment for Yoga

The right ambience is vital for practising yoga. We recommend -

  • Warm and cosy temperatures for the perfect savasana
  • Soothing lights, sunlight or candlelight
  • Incorporate aromatherapy like lavender, jasmine or chamomile
  • Calm and quiet environment - away from the noise for your morning yoga
  • Neat and clean environment
  • Last, but not the least, have your own yoga soundtrack handy!

Meditate to Develop Self-awareness

Meditation is an integral part of the practice of yoga. Be it your private yoga coach or the yogi at the yoga studio, or even the online yoga training tutorial that you subscribe to each morning will tell you unequivocally - mindfulness of mind and body is essential if you want to live consciously in the present moment.

Thoughtlessness is a Means to Becoming Focused Inward

Concentrate on your inner self, keeping your mind open and free from daily problems.

Meditation is impossible without concentration. It allows you to see more clearly and stop thinking.

This is where yoga transcends the physical realm to straddle the worlds of spirituality and mental discipline.

Yoga lets you re-centre yourself and your feelings.

But not all meditation is the same. There are different techniques - some concentrate on a specific object, others on the Self in order to progress along the path of enlightenment.

Check out this one-stop guide on learning yoga.

Lasting Benefits of Meditation

Yoga and meditation have proven benefits on the everyday lives of its practitioners. Yogis stress on this aspect of yoga as an exercise in self-awareness.

Some of the more scientifically-proven benefits of yoga and meditation have been:

  • Improved human resilience
  • Enhanced sense of physical and physiological well-being
  • Reduction in levels of stress
  • Helped cope with anxiety
  • Lengthened attention span
  • Improved sleep patterns

Ongoing research also suggests that meditation can be a potent weapon in fighting dementia, controlling blood pressure and even control chronic pain. 

Sportive Approach to Yoga

Following meditation exercises, things are upped a notch. Indeed, one advantage of yoga classes is that it slowly raises the difficulty level, allowing the body to adapt to the poses little by little.
Once the mind is serene, it needs to reconnect to the body. This is done with a specific series of yoga poses.

Yoga improves flexibility.
Yoga poses, or asanas, help increase flexibility. They are the centre of the yoga lesson, framed by meditative exercises. Photo credit: FreetoBreathevsLungCancer via

Physical Benefits of Yoga

The health benefits of yoga are very real. Practising yoga asanas is a scientifically proven way to lose weight, build muscle strength, relieve stress and fight anxiety and even improve one's immunity.

For beginners, Hatha yoga can be an ideal starting point with its focus on the basic postures at a comfortable pace.

For a bit more advanced yoga practitioners, power yoga is recommended for building muscle strength and body resistivity.

For advanced yoga students, Bikram or hot yoga can be ideal. With room temperature set to around 105 degrees Fahrenheit, the body can rid itself of toxins at a far greater rate through the increased production of sweat.

Power Yoga

Some of the most lasting benefits of the vigorous power yoga are:

  • Increased physical and mental endurance, strength, and flexibility.
  • Increased arm and shoulder strength.
  • Correction of body postures over time.
  • Hip flexors are stretched and strengthened.
  • Glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves are strengthened.

Improve and Regulate Your Breathing with Regular Yoga

The branch of yoga devoted to breathing is called Pranayama. It means "controlling your breath." This is usually the last stage in a yoga course/ yoga class. This is done in order to leave the yoga student with a sense of lasting calm.

Breathing may sound like a very mundane thing to do. However, if you get it wrong, it can lead to many complications in your body. These include:

  • General weakness
  • Poor digestion
  • A weak immune system
  • Bad circulation
  • Difficulties in concentrating
  • A tendency to be overwhelmed by stress and emotions

Breathing right is the first step towards building and maintaining good health.

Yoga focuses a lot on diaphragm breathing.
Breathing mindfully helps the energy flow within your body. Yoga lessons teach you special breathing exercises. Photo credit: via Visual Hunt

Yoga Can Help Regulate Proper Breathing

Most yoga lessons will ask you to focus on a specific organ of your body, viz. the diaphragm. It needs to be loosened to aid in breathing as well as in improving digestion and blood circulation.

A Simple Exercise

Breathe in deeply while inflating your stomach, then hold your breath for a few seconds.

Then let go slowly while breathing out.

This exercise is also used by singers and comedians to calm their nerves in stressful situations.

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To control your breathing is also to calm your heart rate. Your yoga teacher can use some exercises to slow down your breathing.

Balancing exercises in yoga therapy are important to prevent poor health - by preventing not only physical illness but also mental distress.

Therefore, breathing is an ideal curtain call for a good yoga session. It leaves you feeling good - both in your mind and your body.

Popular Pranayamas

There are a number of different techniques of breathing, or Pranayamas, as taught in Yoga, which serve different purposes.

  1. Lion's Breath
  2. Breath of Fire
  3. Skull Cleanser
  4. Three-Part Breathing
  5. Alternate Nostril Breathing
  6. Bellows Breath
  7. Ujjayi Breath

Ask your yoga instructor the meaning, technique and purpose of each and then start practising your own breathing exercise.

Whichever form of yoga you choose to pursue - Hatha yoga, Ashtanga yoga, hot yoga classes or even just plain meditation, remember your yoga tutor should mix all these ingredients for you to have the best results!

Yoga is a powerful tool to awaken your inner spirit. Not only this, practising yoga strengthens the body and mind, helps relieve stress and anxiety and much more.

Breathing exercises, stretching, meditation - yoga is generally an excellent means of combating anxiety.

Don't worry if your class schedule is online or in a yoga institute with a number of other aspiring yogis. Take a deep breath and sign up for a nearby yoga class!

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Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.