Some years ago I trained as a yoga teacher and was surprised to discover how all-encompassing the practice of yoga can be. Apart from learning about the physical body we studied the history and spiritual side of human nature too. It was a very enlightening experience for me.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga may seem like a hip and modern fitness routine, but it’s actually an ancient mind and body practice that was developed in India more than 5,000 years ago. Its positive effects encompass your physical, mental and emotional health. So whether you’re looking to shed a few pounds or you simply want to alleviate your stress, this meditative activity can benefit your health. Numerous studies also suggest that yoga is good for alleviating several medical conditions.
The earliest written record of yoga appeared in the yoga sutras, which are written by the Indian sage Patanjali and contain the fundamental principles, practices and philosophies of yoga followed by yoga practitioners today. According to Patanjali, there are eight “limbs” or stages of yoga. The third and fourth stages are the most common forms of yoga practised and are focused on physical postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama).
Because it’s generally a low-impact exercise, yoga is typically safe.
Different Types of Yoga That You Can Try
Here are some of the most common types of yoga that you can perform:
Hatha yoga – involves basic breath-controlled exercises and yoga postures that are great for beginners.
Ashtanga yoga – is a vigorous form involving quick movements, to improve strength and endurance.
Bikram yoga – involves 26 patented poses practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees F, with a humidity of 40 percent helping loosen the muscles, cleanse the body and relieve symptoms of chronic diseases.
Vinyasa yoga – adapted from the traditional ashtanga techniques but involves varying poses.
Kundalini yoga – emphasizes fast-paced flow of poses, proper breathing techniques and meditation to improve balance of the body. It is more challenging than others, so it may not be suitable for beginners.
Hot yoga – is performed in a heated room. Temperature and humidity for this yoga style is not defined.
Core power yoga — Also known as power vinyasa, core power yoga is a strenuous routine that’s aimed to stretch, strengthen and tone the muscles while emphasizing mind-body connection.9
Aerial yoga – uses soft, fabric hammocks that are held up by carabineers, straps and support chains.
Prenatal yoga – specifically designed to help pregnant women prepare for labor, delivery and recovery.
Yoga Provides a Wide Array of Health Benefits
Yoga can improve your overall well-being in a variety of ways. Here are some that you can get: increased flexibility, better balance, improved strength, higher stamina, better body alignment, reduced stress levels, improved mood and behaviour and enhanced mindfulness.
The physical health benefits of yoga also make it a useful workout for athletes, since it helps improve athletic performance and prevent injuries. Yoga’s potential for healing has also been the subject of numerous studies over the past years. Research shows that the right set of yoga poses may indeed help relieve several medical conditions, such as Chronic low-back pain; Mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression, Hypertension, Insomnia, Asthma and Carpal tunnel syndrome.
To be continued…