Not sure if you dare to take that step and learn yoga?

Don’t worry, yoga lessons are probably a lot different than what you imagine.

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

In order to help you get there, most yoga sessions will consist of the following elements:

  • Relaxation
  • Meditation
  • Stretching
  • Breathing exercises

These are all elements that will be useful to you in everyday life. And you don’t have to be a professional-level athlete to start yoga classes. Enthusiasm and motivation are more than enough!

To start with, it is usually possible to take advantage of a free first hour. That way you can see for yourself how a yoga lesson is set up.

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What Will Your Yoga Courses Be Teaching You?

Most of all, it is important to understand where yoga came from and why this practise has become so popular in the West.

Yoga has been practised in India for centuries and dates back to Antiquity. Five thousand years ago, this discipline was developed to help people live better lives and to support them through pain and loss. In those trying times it is important to cultivate harmony between mind and body and find balance.

Yoga is one of the India’s six main philosophic systems. It is a “darsana”, a specific way of looking at the world.

But what does “yoga” mean?

The work comes from the ancient root “*yeug-”, which means “to bind, to join”. It’s goal is to unify body and mind and heart. It is a way to find yourself and become conscience of one’s existence.

Yoga is based on several principles:

  • Yoga sutra
  • Chakra
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation
  • Breathing
Yoga for stress is a tried and true method.
Meditation is only of the ways that yoga helps relieve stress. Photo credit: Bindaas Madhavi via Visual Hunt

A yoga lesson aims to:

  • Teach you to live in the present moment
  • Develop your breathing and help you become more conscious of your body
  • Improve the body’s flexibility
  • Work on strength and endurance
  • Enhance your balance

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

Consider consulting your doctor before starting yoga lessons. He or she can tell you if your state of health is up to regular yoga practise.

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

Beginning Your Yoga Lesson: Relaxation

Yoga’s main goal is relaxation. We need to forget our difficult day at work and take advantage of this moment of rest. It’s important to just let go and gain confidence. Your yoga teacher will be there to guide you and keep you from tensing up.

But how does a yoga class start?

With just that: a little moment of relaxation. You will need to calm your mind to better concentrate.

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

Are you afraid of appearing silly?

Don’t be. From one yoga session to another, students get to know themselves and each other and truly relax. Little by little, yoga instructor and students build up a relationship that will encourage relaxation.

The right ambiance is vital for practising yoga.

Get To Know Yourself Better With Yoga Meditation

Another important aspect of yoga is meditation. Mindfulness of mind and body is essential if you want to live consciously in the present moment -  a way of thinking extolled by many yoga practitioners for the better quality of life it affords.

Within many yoga classes, meditation often comes after the relaxation period.


Concentration is indispensable. You also have to be in good physical condition (warmed up) but also in the proper mood, keeping your mind open and free from daily problems.

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

Thoughts and ideas tend to accumulate over the course of the day - but now is the time to cut loose.

Even though yoga is a physical activity, it is above all a 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.

Meditation is where many yoga enthusiasts find well-being and the best way of avoiding stress. It forces them to think of nothing but the present moment.

What are the concrete benefits of yoga meditation? Yoga:

  • Lessens psychosomatic problems
  • Generally improved health
  • Relaxes the nervous system
  • Reduces tension
  • Lets you put some distance between yourself and your problems
  • Helps you control your fears
  • Improves self-esteem.

Meditation also helps you not be constantly analysising and judging. What is important is the intuition sparked by observation of the environment in that moment. This lets us be in synch with what is around us.

Agility and Flexibility For a 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

The practice of yoga is recommended for people needing to build up muscle or to stretch certain parts of their body. Physical health and well-being are put forward.

Here are some of the benefits of yoga for physical health:

  • Stretches the spinal cord and articulations
  • Heals back problems
  • Tones muscles
  • Regulates organ functions (liver, bladder, stomach, etc.)
  • Stimulates the endocrine glands (thyroid and hypophyse)
  • Stimulates the adrenal glands
  • Purges the organism
  • Re-oxgenates the cells
  • Invigorates the antibodies and enforce the body’s natural resistance

The poses will be more or less complicated depending on your level. It is important to start gently and not try and force things. If you go too quickly, the risk of injury will be higher.

This is why it is important to have a yoga instructor on hand. They know their students’s level and of what they are capable.

Using Yoga To Work On Breathing and the Diaphragm

After relaxation, meditation and more physical exercises, it’s time for breathing exercises.

Most yoga sessions end with them in order to help you return to a state of calm before leaving.

Learning to breathe is not as easy as it sounds and many people breathe wrong. It can lead to:

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

Remember that breathing is the basis for energy production in the body - the breathing process is essential to good health.

You only need to take this example: when hiking at high altitudes, athletes need to acclimate slowly or even use oxygen bottles. Without enough oxygen to the brain, the brain slows down - and the other organs with it.

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

But how to improve your breathing?

Yoga lessons concentrate on a specific organ: the diaphragm. It needs to be loosened to help in breathing, but also improve digestion and blood circulation.

To help you with this, your yoga teacher with concentrate on exercises to strengthen your diaphragm.

A little exercise

This is a simple exercise often used in schools to help children calm down after an active recess. 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 down in stressful situations.

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

But you will also need to balance your breathing. The respiratory system alternates between the right and left nostrils about every two hours. If the nose is congested, this disrupts the cycle and breathing is unbalanced.

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

A good way to finish a yoga session and leave in good state of mind and body.

Find out how much yoga lessons cost with our blog of yoga prices.

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Sonia is an Egyptologist turned writer and translator. She speaks 3 and a half languages, can translate hieroglyphs and enjoys yoga, singing, embroidery and travelling through all of time and space.