Yoga All-in-One For Dummies book cover

Yoga All-in-One For Dummies

By: Larry Payne and Georg Feuerstein Published: 03-02-2015

Everything you need to make yoga an integral part of your health and well-being

If you want to incorporate yoga into your daily routine or ramp up what you're already doing, Yoga All-In-One For Dummies is the perfect resource! This complete compendium of six separate titles features everything you need to improve your health and peace of mind with yoga, and includes additional information on, stretching, meditation, adding weights to your yoga workouts, and power yoga moves.

Yoga has been shown to have numerous health benefits, ranging from better flexibility and athletic performance to lowered blood pressure and weight loss. For those who want to take control of their health and overall fitness, yoga is the perfect practice. With Yoga All-In-One For Dummies, you'll have everything you need to get started and become a master of even the toughest yoga poses and techniques.

  • Find out how to incorporate yoga to foster health, happiness, and peace of mind
  • Get a complete resource, featuring information from six titles that are packed with tips
  • Use companion workout videos to help you master various yoga poses and techniques that are covered in the book
  • Utilize tips in the book to increase balance, range of motion, flexibility, strength, and overall fitness

Take a deep breath and dive into Yoga All-In-One For Dummies to find out how you can improve your health and your happiness by incorporating yoga into your daily routine.

Articles From Yoga All-in-One For Dummies

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42 results
Yoga with Weights: What You Need to Get Started

Article / Updated 06-20-2019

To get started with Yoga with Weights, you need a little willpower, an open mind, and a sense of adventure; at least, those are the only intangibles you need. Taking the first step in any new activity is usually the hardest part. As for the tangibles, you need some equipment to get going. At minimum, you need a quiet and comfortable place to exercise, hand weights, and ankle weights. A yoga mat, the right clothes, and good shoes (for warming up) are also beneficial. The good news for you? These items don’t cost a bundle. Read on for more information about the gear and equipment you need for a Yoga with Weights workout. Bonnie Kamin]" width="535"/> Credit: Photograph by Bonnie Kamin Choosing hand- and ankle-weights You need two kinds of weights if you want to incorporate weight resistance into your yoga workouts: hand weights and ankle weights. Most sporting goods and athletic stores carry these weights. Here are some guidelines. Investing in weights of different sizes Opt for three sizes of hand and ankle weights: a pair of 1-pound weights, a pair of 3-pound weights, and a pair of 5-pound weights. Why not lift weights heavier than 5 pounds? Using 5-pound weights — in addition to the yoga poses — gives you a very solid workout. The 1-, 3-, or 5-pounders stretch your muscles, release tension in your muscles, and engage the muscles in the deep core of your body that you use for balance and stability. This added resistance from the weights forces your deep-core muscles to spring into action. Lifting weights heavier than 5 pounds may make you too top- or bottom-heavy and upset the balance and distribution of your body weight. The amount of resistance you want is up to you. Experiment with the different weights, and choose the size that gives you the best workout. Always start with the lightest hand or ankle weights and work your way up. Doing so allows you to start from your comfort zone and work your way into the weight that gives you the most fulfilling workout. If you start with the heaviest weight, you run the risk of straining yourself and pulling a muscle. Knowing which size weight to use How do you know which size weight (1-, 3-, or 5-pound) to use in a particular exercise? The size is ultimately up to you, but if you find yourself straining as you do an exercise, consider using a lighter weight. Some telltale signs that you should switch to a lighter weight include grunting, holding your breath, or experiencing shaking or cramping muscles. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Keep different sizes of weights at your side and test the different weights until you find the pair that engages you the best in an exercise. You may find yourself using different weights for different exercises. The surest way to know whether your choice of weights is the right one is to see how you feel after a workout. If your body feels weak and shaky, or you’re too sore the next day, you need lighter weights. If you finish a workout with the feeling of “comfortable discomfort” — a feeling that you’ve met the challenge and given yourself a good workout — you know that your choice in weights was the right one. Settling on the right yoga mat You need a solid, supporting surface to exercise on, and for that reason, using a yoga mat is a good idea for your safety. Mats give you padding, comfort, and protection, especially for your knees and spine. However, it isn’t necessary to have a yoga mat when you do Yoga with Weights exercises. You can exercise on a solid, non-slippery, close-weave type of carpet or clean, dry floor. If you’re taking a Yoga with Weights class in a gym, bring your own mat for hygiene purposes. Most gyms offer yoga mats, but they can get very sweaty. Rolling around in your own sweat is much more agreeable and hygienic than rolling around in a stranger’s sweat. When you shop for a yoga mat, look for one that stretches a little and gives you good support. Mats range from a fraction of an inch to an inch deep, but depth isn’t the real issue — cushioning is. The idea is to get some relief from the hard floor, and although comfort is fine, a spongy mat can be a nuisance because it doesn’t give you a solid base to work on. For your purposes, a quarter- to half-inch-thick mat is best because it offers comfort and stability; if you’re uncomfortable sitting on the floor or on your knees, get a mat that’s on the thick side. Also, the mat should be as long as you are tall plus about 6 inches; in other words, if you’re 5-feet-6, find a 6-foot yoga mat. Don’t select a foam mat; they’re too thick and too short for Yoga with Weights exercises. Foam mats are made for aerobic exercising. Wearing clothing that preserves modesty and movement Don’t wear shirts and pants that restrict your movements in any way or drag on the floor, and never wear a belt; the waistband of your pants must be loose so your breathing isn’t constricted or confined. For the sake of comfort, wear clothes with natural and breathable fibers. You can find these clothes in many sporting goods stores, outdoor outfitters, and yoga retail stores, as well as on the Internet. Follow these guidelines when choosing your undergarments: Women: Women should wear an athletic or spandex bra that lifts their breasts and presses them into their bodies. For top-heavy women, this factor is important for balancing as well as for comfort. Men: Men should wear tightly fitting — but not too tightly fitting — underwear from which no, ahem, items may escape and see the light of day. Spandex running shorts are excellent for Yoga with Weights. They support your muscles and keep them warm, and they permit you to move without restriction.

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8 Ways to Protect Your Lower Back

Article / Updated 09-09-2016

Yoga is well known for making people more flexible, supple, lithe, and limber. In fact, you’ve probably seen photographs of yogis or yoginis contorting themselves into different yoga postures. However, recent studies indicate that it’s a safe and effective option for relieving moderate low back pain. In a study funded by NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), participants suffering from chronic lower back pain were divided into three groups: one group took 12 weekly yoga classes, one group took 12 weekly stretching classes, and one group was given a self-care book and encouraged to exercise to relieve pain. At the end of the study, participants who had taken the yoga and stretching classes did significantly better than those in the self-care group — reducing using of medications to relieve pain and rating their back pain as better or completely gone — and these improvements lasted throughout the study timeframe. Given how prevalent low back pain is — according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), four out of five adults experience significant low back pain sometime during their lives — these findings can offer hope to millions of sufferers. Even better than treating low back pain is avoiding it altogether. Following are eight tips you can follow to reduce the risk of back pain when lifting and moving heavy weights: When standing, spread your feet shoulder-width apart to give yourself a solid base of support and then slightly bend your knees. Tighten your stomach muscles before lifting. Position the person or object close to your body before lifting. Lift with your leg muscles. Never lift an object by keeping your legs stiff while bending over it. Avoid twisting your body; instead, point your toes in the direction you want to move and pivot in that direction. When placing an object on a high shelf, move close to the shelf. During lifting movements, maintain the natural curve of your spine; don’t bend at your waist. Don’t try to lift something that’s too heavy or an awkward shape by yourself. Get help.

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Yoga All-in-One Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-27-2016

Yoga itself is at least 5,000 years old, and yoga exercising — what you know as yoga postures, or asanas — emerged about 600 years ago. Even though yoga has evolved over the centuries as it traveled to new cultures, its principles are universal. Yoga is a practice of mind, body, breath, and spirit. The articles in the Cheat Sheet touch on the physical and mental benefits yoga offers, offer suggestions for how to enhance your yoga practice even when you’re on your own, and remind you why warming up is so important to any exercise routine — even one as “user-friendly” as yoga.

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3 Ways to Create a Place That Fosters Mindfulness in Your Yoga Practice

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A key part of yoga is being mindful, yet sometimes your practice environment can have a spectacular effect — for good or ill — on what you get out of it. Although you may not be able to sit in a beautiful forest every day, you can still create a calm and focused atmosphere in a corner of your home or yard. Doing so can mean the difference between successfully managing your health with mindful work and struggling to do so. Here are three ways you can adapt almost any space into a sanctuary where you can feel safe to go away into your mind-body routine for 10, 20, or 30 minutes: Find a place where you can focus. Focusing on yourself is hard enough without having a place to call your own. You don’t want to look at a cluttered desk, the kids’ toys, or piles of dishes or laundry when you try to do mind-body exercises. Add items that help you forget distractions. Room dividers or screens can help you block out the family, the mess, or the chores you need to do. (And they can be really attractive, too.) Candles and lamps can also help set the stage or give you a light to focus on for any relaxation or meditation. Pillows can help you get into the safest and best positions for your body. A mat can make your bones more comfortable. And a soothing picture on the wall can help you feel as if you’re really on a true retreat. Preserve your sanctuary. Even if this space can’t be permanent, look around for a corner and mentally claim it. You can then keep your “sanctuary supplies” in a drawer, on a closet shelf, or folded up under the bed. When you’re ready for your mind-body retreat, just pull out the dividers, candles, music, and incense, and set yourself up in a flash.

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5 Steps to a Neutral Spine

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Your spine is meant to curve in one direction or another, to one degree or another, in different places along your back. Having more or less curve can mean that your spine doesn’t handle impact well, your vertebrae have more pressure put on them, or certain muscles and ligaments are pulled tighter or looser and can offer more or less support than you may need. Therefore, when practicing yoga, you want to achieve a neutral position with your spine and pelvis so that you don’t fall into postures both painful and harmful. Most folks either tuck their buttocks under too much, eliminating the low back curve, or sag their bellies out to the front, over-emphasizing the curve. Years of either posture can lead to injury, especially basic low back pain or strain. If your body is used to standing around with less-than-perfect posture, your muscles have adjusted to your stance by becoming either tighter or looser than they should be. You may have to work on stretching and strengthening the muscles first to get yourself realigned. Follow these five steps to achieve a neutral spine: Rock your buttocks back to create a big curve in your back. You may stick out your chest to compensate for the weight shift and end up looking like a Barbie doll: chest puffed out, back swayed, buttocks sticking out behind you, and, often, shoulder blades pulled back too far — a posture that can put pressure on your lower back and tighten the front of your hips. Tip your belly forward and try to tuck your buttocks underneath you. You may sink your chest to compensate for this move and end up look like a Neanderthal: chest caved in, shoulders rounded forward, buttocks tucked under you, and head poking forward — a posture that can flatten out the curves in your lower back, making it more susceptible to impact injuries. Rock back and forth between these two exaggerated positions, allowing your shoulders to move in response but not focusing on their action or making it any larger than required by the pelvis shift. Slowly lessen the swing until you find yourself coming to rest sort of in the middle to a neutral position that doesn’t over-curve or over-flatten anywhere. Test your position. Place your hands palm down on your belly, with the base of your palms on your hip bones, your thumbs reaching inward, and your fingers pointing toward your pubic bone. Your hands should be perpendicular to the ground. If your fingers are farther ahead of your thumbs, your hips need to tip backward a bit more. If your thumbs are farther forward than your fingers, you need to tighten up your abs and pull under a bit more. When you find what seems to be neutral, take away your hands and see how this feels. Are you feeling forced to bend your knees or as though you’re straining to stay in position? If so, you need to work on your leg and hip flexibility to help you along. You may also need to work on low back or front-of-hip flexibility to help you stay there, too.

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8 Questions to Evaluate Your Fitness Level

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Many mind-body programs are so gentle that nearly anyone can do them without fear. But to be on the safe side — and that’s always a smart thing when it comes to movement — take a few moments to assess your current fitness and health by asking yourself the following questions: Are you currently not exercising regularly? Do you have a personal or family history of heart disease or chest pains, especially before age 50? Do you smoke or have you been a smoker in the in the past two years? Do you have any joint problems such as achiness or stiffness that get worse when you move in certain ways? Do you have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar? Are you taking any medications for any of the above conditions that may change the way your body responds to exercise? Are you considered very overweight or obese? (This doesn’t mean those annoying 10 to 15 pounds. If you think you’re overweight, you probably are.) Do you know of any other reason why you shouldn’t do physical activity? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, see a physician before starting an exercise program, especially a program that raises your heart rate and puts any additional stress on your heart or other systems. Even if the program doesn’t raise your heart rate, it may involve bending or twisting that may aggravate your blood pressure or any joint problems that you already have or may be inclined toward; these are also good reasons to be safe with a physician’s visit. If you don’t answer “yes” to any of these questions but are age 40 or older or haven’t exercised regularly in at least a year, you should still see a physician to check on your overall health and to discuss any medical conditions that may run in your family. If your answer to one of the questions changes to “yes” at any time during your exercise program, you need to see your physician. Don’t let any of these warnings scare you off from movement! It simply makes good sense to see a physician once a year anyway.

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8 Ways to Develop a Lifestyle That Supports Meditation

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

How you live affects how you meditate, and how you meditate affects how you live. When your actions don’t jibe with your reasons for meditating — for example, when you’re meditating to reduce stress but your actions intensify conflict — your everyday life may be working at cross-purposes with the time you spend in meditation. The more you meditate, the more sensitive you become to how some activities support or even enhance your meditation and others disturb or discourage it. Here are eight guidelines for living in harmony with the spirit of meditation: Be mindful of cause and effect. Notice how your actions — and the feelings and thoughts that accompany them — influence others and your own state of mind. When you flare up in anger or lash out in fear, observe how the ripples can be felt for hours or even days in the responses of others, in your own body, and in your meditation. Do the same with actions that express kindness or compassion. Reflect on impermanence and the preciousness of life. Death is real, say the Tibetans; it can come without warning, and this body, too, will one day be food for worms and other earthly creatures. By reflecting on how rare it is to be a human being at a time when physical comforts are relatively plentiful and the practice of meditation and other methods for reducing stress and relieving suffering are so readily available, you may feel more motivated to take advantage of the opportunities you have. Realize the limitations of worldly success. Check out the people you know who have achieved the worldly success you aspire to. Are they really any happier than you are? Do they have more love in their lives or more peace of mind? Through meditation, you can achieve a level of inner success that’s based on joy and tranquility rather than material gain. Practice nonattachment. The point of nonattachment is not to be indifferent or to disengage from the world, but to notice how attachment to the outcome of your actions affects your meditations and peace of mind. What would it be like to act wholeheartedly, with the best of intentions, and then let go of your struggle to get things to be a certain way? Cultivate patience and perseverance. Whatever you call it — discipline, diligence, perseverance, or just plain stick-to-itiveness — you’ll reap the greatest benefits if you meditate regularly day after day. Simplify your life. The busier and more complicated your life, the more agitated your mind is likely to be when you meditate — and the greater your stress level will be as well. Pay particular attention to all those extra activities you tack on to an already crammed schedule. If you stop running and listen closely, you may hear the voice of your own inner wisdom. Live with honesty and integrity: When you lie, manipulate, and compromise your core values, you may be able to hide from yourself for a time — but only until you reach your meditation cushion. Meditation mirrors you back to you, and what you see may motivate you to actualize more of your positive potential. Face situations with the courage of a warrior. Unlike their battlefield counterparts, meditation “warriors” cultivate the courage to drop their aggression and defensiveness, face their fears, and open their hearts to themselves and others. Easier said than done, but meditation teaches you how, and ultimately, every moment becomes an opportunity to practice.

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10 Videos to Enhance Your Yoga Practice

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The best way to understand a yoga routine or posture is to see someone practice it. These ten short videos introduce you to a variety of yoga postures and beginning-level routines. With these demonstrations at your fingertips, you can improve your yoga practice, regardless of your age or physical abilities. Check out these tried-and-true poses and routines at www.dummies.com/go/yogaaiofd.

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2 Tennis Ball Massages to Loosen Tight Muscles

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Sometimes muscles that have been very tight for a long period of time can actually lose the ability to relax on their own, resulting in persistent muscle and skeletal imbalance, nerve impingement, and most likely, chronic pain. When that happens, the only thing that can really help the muscle let go is focused massage. Unfortunately, for most people a good massage is a luxury of both time and money. But don’t despair — you can effectively apply pinpoint massage on chronically tight and painful muscles both quickly and inexpensively. All you need is a tennis ball and an open space on the floor. Two techniques using a tennis ball are useful, and both are simple. These measures will keep you out of the doctor’s office and make your next massage all about indulgence, not pain management. If you use either of these massage techniques, heed these precautions: Don’t overdo it. Let the muscle relax slowly and gradually. It may take repeated attempts over several days to get severely tight muscles to stop clenching and let go. Aggressive massage can actually bruise the muscle, which just makes things worse and keeps you from addressing your fundamental muscle tension for several days until you heal. Never place the ball directly beneath your spine. Your spine is made of bones, and bones won’t stretch. They can bruise, though, and be pushed out of alignment, which again will only make things worse. Tennis ball technique #1 Place a tennis ball on a clean, flat place on the floor and lie down with the ball directly beneath your tight muscle. Lie there and breathe deeply, using your own body weight to apply pressure to the muscle. The increased amount of oxygen in your blood helps to initiate the relaxation response and to wash through the tight muscle and remove toxins. Tennis ball technique #2 Place a tennis ball on a clean, flat place on the floor and lie down with the ball directly beneath your tight muscle. Move slowly back and forth, gently rolling the tennis ball all around the affected area to mimic the motion of a firm, steady massage. Do this for approximately 30 seconds and then roll off the tight area to give it a rest. Repeat until you feel the muscle relax.

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10 Maladies That Stretching Can Alleviate

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Stretching can help create a balance between strength and flexibility, between opposing muscle groups, between your left and right side, and between your mind and body (that’s what’s meant by “mind-body connection”). Stretching can also help solve many of the mechanical problems that create discomfort. Pain is your body’s way of telling you there’s a problem that needs to be fixed. In addition to all the tried-and-true methods of pain relief you’re used to — like warm soaks and ice-cold packs — consider stretching as a new, powerful tool in your pain relief arsenal. Instead of reaching for that bottle of anti-inflammatory medication first to mask the problem, try a stretch or two. Stretching is only one tool in the battle against pain, so if any of these conditions persists for longer than a couple of days, consult your healthcare professional. Following are ten signals from your body that parts of it may be out of balance: Bursitis and/or tendonitis: Overuse injuries such as bursitis and tendonitis are the result of irritation within a joint that causes inflammation. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa — a type of connective tissue that cushions tendons and helps prevent friction between the tendon and the bone. Bursitis can be caused by repetitive motion or by compression, such as when someone sleeps only on one side or wears tight shoes. Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon, where the normal smooth gliding motion of the muscle disappears; it’s caused by excessive use of the tendon, which can lead to microscopic tears in the collagen that makes up the tendon. Either of these conditions can produce pain and swelling, and stretching exercises can help relieve pain, increase flexibility, and help regain functionality. Carpal tunnel syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful, progressive condition caused by compression of a key nerve in the wrist. Symptoms usually start gradually with pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist and then radiate up the arm. As symptoms worsen, people may feel tingling during the day, and decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks. Stretching can help strengthen your wrists and prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Indigestion: The causes of indigestion are many, but the solutions are few. Stretching can enhance the digestive process by massaging the intestines and initiating muscular contractions in the abdominal area, both of which can help move things along in there. Stretching is very effective in helping to reduce stress, which in turn calms your stomach. Insomnia: Insomnia is the chronic inability to fall asleep or remain asleep for an adequate length of time. In many cases, insomnia is a symptom of an underlying health problem, such as depression, chronic pain, sleep apnea, or other breathing disorders. But more often than not, insomnia is primarily stress related, and stretching can help alleviate stress. Low back pain: Tight muscles in your hips, thighs, and buttocks can affect you and actually put so much strain and stress on your lower back that they cause lower back pain. Regular stretching is one solution that’s been proven effective. Menstrual cramps: One of the most natural, effective methods of relieving menstrual cramps is to first apply heat from either a warm bath or heating pad and then to engage in some mild stretching. Plantar fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a band of fibrous tissue called the fascia that runs along the bottom of your foot from the heel to the ball of the foot, which is the plantar fascia. Stretching can help the ligaments become flexible, thus relieving pain. In the case of chronic irritation of this area, seek your doctor’s advice, which most likely may include rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medicine, arch supports, or taping. Sciatica: Sciatica is pain along the sciatic nerve. The pain, usually caused by a herniated disk of the lumbar region of the spine, then radiates to the buttocks and to the back of the thigh. Sometimes sciatica is more broadly defined as pain in the lower back, buttocks, hips, or adjacent parts. Stress: If stress is a constant harsh buzz of daily activity, think of stretching as a slow, quiet Sunday afternoon you can enjoy any time you want to relieve your stress. The methodical movements in a good flexibility program provide simple, easy activities as you position your body for the next stretch. And then the stretches are followed by periods of quiet stillness as you hold the stretch. Try concentrating fully on the muscles that you’re stretching. This focus helps block out any stray, stress-inducing thoughts. Also, the deep, regular breathing that’s so important to effective stretching helps oxygenate your blood, which produces a reduction in overall stress and anxiety. Tension headaches: Tension headaches are caused by tight, knotted muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp, and jaw. These aches tend to occur on both sides of your head and start at the back of your skull and spread forward. The pain is often dull or squeezing, like a tight band or vice. In addition, your shoulders, neck, or jaw may feel tight and sore. If you tend to get tension headaches, stretching your shoulders and neck helps relax and relieve the tension in your muscles before they cause the headache, and then you can attack the pain before it begins.

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