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Brett Fletcher
Brett Fletcher's writings are influenced by ancient sacred texts as well as a variety of esoteric works. Articles

Yoga Basics for Beginners

Anne Laderman Swartz

Yoga Basics for Beginners

Yoga Basics for Beginners
By Anne Laderman Swartz

Humans are powerful. Have you ever kept yourself awake at night worrying about someone or something? Most of us make ourselves miserable simply by remembering a difficult moment! When we’re exhausted from negative thinking, it’s difficult for us to see the beauty that is always here and never leaves us. Here’s an effective exercise that when practiced regularly will create inner peace. When you observe yourself thinking in a way that is not kind and loving, try the following and I guarantee that your quality of life will improve:

1. Change what you’re looking at – look at something beautiful like a flower, mountain, tree, picture of a baby or anything else that makes you smile.
2. Change your breath – breathe consciously and then deeply into your belly.
3. Change your posture – lengthen your spine and then create space between your ribcage and your pelvis. Make sure that your shoulders don’t creep up to your ears!

The majority of us were educated in math, English and science; not in how to create balance in our lives. Yoga teaches us to soften, breathe and relax no matter what twisted pose we get into. When taken off the mat and into everyday life, we learn to relax and breathe instead of tense up when life gets a little bumpy. For example, you can learn to release your jaw and breathe deeply instead of tense up and gag when you’re at the dentist.

Yoga trains us to see the world from a different vantage point. After enough practice, frustrations like a broken down car can become opportunities to slow down and appreciate what is working. When you surrender into the moment, life feels a little bit better. Moment by moment you create balance.

Yoga simply means “yoke” or “union”. Most of the yoga currently taught in the West is a physical form called Hatha. Translated literally from 5000 year old Sanskrit, this means sun and moon. There are probably as many forms of yoga in the US as there are different ethnic cuisines. The various forms of yoga address a wide spectrum of constantly changing needs. Some forms of yoga have the heat up over 100 degrees and others are under 70 degrees. Each instructor has a different interpretation of the form she or he teaches. Some western teachers fuse different forms of yoga to create their own, such as Anusara and Forrest. There is a form of yoga for everyone. Finding the proper class is the first step in using yoga to create the life you dream about.

A dedicated yoga practice will transform your life because it will create unifying bonds between your body, mind and spirit. As we become whole within ourselves we are able to be unified and healthfully connected to the people, animals and environment that surround us. Our society teaches us to look for gratification outside of ourselves. Yoga helps us to connect with the limitless bliss that really does live within each of us. As you become aware of the connection between your body, mind and spirit you can create the life you have only fantasized about.

Here are some tips for finding the right Hatha yoga class and being happy once you’re there:
1. Do your research: read about the class and instructor prior to attending.
• Is the class an appropriate level for you? Most teachers don’t advise beginners to attend “advanced” classes. Even if you’re in great shape, it’s important to start yoga at the beginning….unless you’re a reincarnated yogi with a super great memory.
• Ask the instructor or employees at the studio any questions that will help you feel more comfortable.
2. Do not eat for about 2 hours prior to practice…unless you’re pregnant.
3. Arrive to class free from perfumes and colognes.
4. Tell the teacher about any physical issues or limitations before class.
5. Rest any time. It’s actually cool to rest in yoga. Listen to your body and allow the breath to guide your movement.
6. Do not compare yourself to others in the class.
7. HAVE FUN. Some people take yoga so seriously that they forget to smile, laugh and play. If you fall out of a pose or do something that seems a little clutzy – observe your reaction. Laughing with yourself is a great tool!

Anne Laderman Swartz is a mom and certified yoga instructor in Olympia, Washington. She has taught yoga in California, Arizona and New Zealand. Anne has studied with many master teachers and is especially grateful for her time with Ana Forrest, Saul David Raye and Gurmukh. Her classes are a blend of that experience, combining Vinyasa flow, Anusara, and Forrest Yoga to create a well balanced, heart opening, ecstatic practice. Anne’s knowledge of Thai yoga massage therapy is frequently used throughout the class to guide students into complete relaxation. Anne is a teacher committed to yoga as a way of life. She unselfishly gives, sharing her boundless energy with all who meet her. For a schedule of classes or more information, contact Anne at (360)584-2748 or email at

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