Anyone can do yoga. It doesn’t matter if you’re inflexible, out of shape or have never done yoga. What matters is how fully engaged you are in each experience as you practice.

Far more than just a form of exercise, the "authentic" yoga takes you into states of consciousness which activates an inner dimension of harmony and well-being. In this place of integration, you learn to dismantle reactions and self-criticisms on a yoga mat and are then able to use that understanding to interact with your life off the mat in a new way. You cultivate more confidence and an improved connection to good health, personal talents and purpose.

If you’re ready and have 10 minutes, I'll share an experience with you so you may better understand. Here is a 3-step beginner's guide to yoga poses:

1. Let go of all preconceived notions about what yoga is. The popular trend of yoga as exercise is limiting. Yoga is not merely about practicing yoga poses (called “asanas). It’s about freeing yourself physically, mentally and emotionally from all that may be holding you back in your life. When poses are practiced regularly with intention, yoga is a way of accessing who you truly are. It goes beyond fitness. It is an integration of mind, body heart and spirit that can accelerate happiness and fulfillment. Yoga poses are tools to ignite your personal power within. Many beginners never get introduced to this understanding and often abandon yoga all too quickly. They miss the miraculous life-changing benefits. I encourage you to explore the adventure with an open mind and heart.

2. Get connected to this moment.
Begin in a seated position. Sit on the floor or in a chair. Close your eyes. Notice feelings in your body. How does the floor or chair feel beneath you? Focus on your breathing; inhaling and exhaling--a natural function that animates body and mind. Deepen your next inhalation and on the exhalation, open your mouth and express the sound of OM, emptying your lungs. Notice how the vibrations feel on your lips and in your body. Repeat the sound two more times allowing yourself to let go into the tones. Next resume your normal breathing. You’ve just practiced awareness and a sense of integration. This is a helpful start towards getting present and becoming centered. Were you thinking about what you’re having for dinner later or worrying about something that may or may not happen tomorrow? I hope you stayed focused and committed to your experience.

3. Become the observer when you practice.
In the yoga of consciousness that I teach (known as IAM Yoga--Integrative Amrit Method from world-renowned yogi master Amrit Desai), there are two parts to every pose. The first is the traditional Hatha Yoga and presents the active, dynamic pose. The second is Raja Yoga, a pause to feel the internal effects of the physical movement and enter deep silence. By combining the two, you connect to the observer where you watch your thoughts and reactions without judgment.

Your ego wants to criticize with a constant chatter of comments like: “I’m no good.” “I didn’t do that right.” Accept that you are not your ego or your thoughts. You are the witness, the watcher of those thoughts and emotions.

Let me demonstrate this integrated approach to doing Tadasana or Mountain Pose:

First Half of Pose: Hatha Yoga
• Stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart. Bring your palms together in front of your heart.
• Press your feet into the ground and extend your arms up over your head.
• Look straight ahead. Interlace index fingers and point toward the sky. Your chin is parallel to the floor. Relax your shoulders. Breathe.
• Become the observer by feeling sensations in your body; your shoulders, arms. Direct your attention to the energetic press points by dropping your tailbone, firm through the buttocks and inner thighs as you press into the feet, extend up through the spine and out through the fingers. Relax the shoulders slightly. Breathe several slow, uniform breaths. The channels and meridians in your entire body are opening. Notice all sensations. Resist the urge to think about what’s next or if you’re doing it perfectly. Just keep focused on feelings, on energies.
• To release: lower your hands in prayer position in front of your chest.
• Relax your arms at your sides.

Second Half of Pose: Raja Yoga
• Close your eyes. Breathe normally. Give your undivided attention to the released energy as it appears to you in the form of sensations in your body. Experience totally the energy field that is actively expanding and spreading throughout.

The practice of yoga poses shows you how to calm the restless mind by focusing on feeling and being. It teaches how to accept whatever is showing up in any given moment. When you truly integrate mind and body in your yoga practice, you enter a deeper level that allows you to use your body to connect to the divinity within. In this way, you align with your higher self and can effortlessly find your path to wellness, passion and purpose.

Author's Bio: 

Peggy Sealfon is a personal development coach and author of the best-selling book Escape from Anxiety—Supercharge Your Life with Powerful Strategies from A to Z. Her website is: PeggySealfon.com