If you have not tried yoga yet you are probably wondering what exactly it is. It has an old background with new roots. It is an art, it is an exercise, it is a type of meditation. Traditional yoga practices date back more than 5,000 years. Since then there have been many modernisation; one of which is, practicing to music designed to help you relax and reduce stress.
One of my true pleasures in life is practicing yoga to music that my husband composes. As I work on my body through the poses; I focus on the music, which helps me to relax. After my sessions I have this feeling of balanced calm and I have zero stress. I have fibromyalgia and I know how important it is for me to take time out of my day to let go of stress and relax. If you want to do something extremely good for both your body and your mind, get into yoga.
One of the main principles is that you are achieving a union with your spirit/consciousness and that of the universe around you. Now I know this sounds a bit strange to those of you who grew up never being exposed to this type of practice but, don’t worry, I am not going to tell you to run out and hug a tree. I will tell you that I grew up in a rural area near Kansas where there are actual cowboys, farming is a way of life and there seems to be a suspicion of anything new(age) or different. My upbringing in such an environment, gave me the ability to find real information and to research things. Believe me when I say yoga is one of the best ways to relieve stress, restore internal balance; exercise, strengthen, lengthen and stretch muscles/muscle groups, increase cognitive abilities, improve overall focus and lose weight. Yoga is amazing and it has benefited people of all walks of life. Both women and men have found that it makes their lives and bodies better.
Yoga and Yoga Variations
Let’s delve into the world of Yoga so that you can learn more about it! Traditional yoga has its roots in Hindu culture. The Hindu people used it as a spiritual practice but it also was used to show a status of self-discipline and abstention from pleasure. The practice of Yoga is very old and there many variations. I suggest trying out each variation to see which suits your needs the most. Below, you will find a description of each variation:
Hatha Yoga is one of the most practiced styles of yoga today. It revolves around a set of movements or exercises known as asanas. These are also what many people refer to as poses. Each sequence is designed to work a different part of the body. From the skin to the muscles to the bones, after a yoga session, your whole body will be aligned.
The principles of Hatha Yoga are supposed to be balancing act of the masculine and the feminine. The name itself is derived from the sun and the moon which represents masculine and feminine.
If you like a more traditionalistic practice of yoga, Ashtanga is what you are looking for. It is a choreographed style of yoga that is not based on music but instead to your breathing. It is rigorous and you will find yourself moving through a wide variety of poses to achieve the workout. It was modernized and brought to the United States in 1970.
Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga
Hot yoga is a more modern interpretation of yoga. It takes poses from various yoga schoolings and places you in a hot room while you do them. The heat causes you to sweat more than you normally would and increases the benefits seen from the workout. Those who practice hot yoga need to be especially careful to stay properly hydrated.
You might have also heard this referred to as Bikram Yoga. The only difference between the two is that Bikram Yoga has a set definition of what poses must be included.
Vinsaya & Anusara Yoga
Vinsaya is a style of restorative yoga. You will experience an intensive set of fluid movements during the practice of this style. The classes are choreographed by the instructor, often to a specific song or music whereas anusara yoga is a relatively newer style of yoga that focuses on bringing the mental goodness of us to attention while we practice. Many modern forms of yoga have left this behind to become a more physical exercise. Grace, open hearts, and goodness will be the focus of these classes.
Yoga and Breathing
When you practice yoga one of the practices that you spend a lot of time on is proper breathing. Exercising proper breathing allows you to stretch further, endure longer, and focus better. Asanas are not just about the moves that you carry out. It includes the breaths you take and when you take them.
Benefits of Yoga
Scientific and medical research has been performed into the benefits of yoga. Many different aspects of the art have been studied and benefits vary from physical to mental. Let’s examine some of the major benefits.
Continually Improving Flexibility
If you haven’t already guessed, one of the many things you will benefit from. People from around the world have gone into yoga without even being close to touching their toes. After a while of practicing yoga, they are able to touch their toes and eventually, even go past them. The process of becoming more limber comes with time, though. Being loosened and flexible will better enable you to do everyday tasks and the not so every day.
Like with any exercise you carry out, you will start to build strength. Your muscles become stronger with every moment. When you carry out all of the various asanas you are working almost all of the muscles in the body. Like with the flexibility, it will take time but you will notice that you are stronger.
Almost any ergonomist will tell you that the majority of the world today has bad posture. Those who continually practice yoga will notice that their posture is corrected naturally. Poor posture can lead to pain in the joints, muscles, and bones. Your body is holding up your whole weight on a small structure after all.
Full Range Of Motion Exercise
Cartilage and joint breakdown happen when your limbs don’t get their full range of motion. During the practice of yoga, every part of your body goes through a full range of movement. This squeezes out the old juices in the joints and allows for the absorption of new nutrients.
Healthy Weight Loss
Anytime you work out your body you are putting your body through its paces which causes it to lose weight. Yoga doesn’t just put it through its paces but introduces positions that your body has probably never seen. This helps to work areas that normally are notorious for holding extra weight.
Do you like the idea of having a healthier body and getting sick less often? Yoga does this by helping to drain lymph nodes which produce the immune fighting liquid and release it into your body. The various poses that you take during yoga cause these areas to drain and the fluid fights off germs, bugs, and even cancer in the body. It isn’t a cure but it decreases your chances of getting any sickness.
Do you regularly feel down after a day of work? It isn’t uncommon in today’s world. Yoga can help with that, though. Those who practice yoga regularly have been found to be happier with themselves and their lives. This is because of the improvements yoga helps within the body and because of the stimulation of various parts of the body, such as the release of adrenaline involved in any workout. It also has to do with the healthier immune system according to doctors. The cleaner your immune system, the better you will feel.
Blood Sugar Correction
Yoga helps your body to moderate the different types of cholesterol in the body. During each session, your body will work to get rid of the bad cholesterol and produce the good kind (HDL). This helps to keep your blood sugar at the proper levels and can be extremely helpful for those that suffer from diabetes.
Focus and Relaxation
Part of performing yoga is letting go of the world around you and focusing on the various movements. By being forced to focus on the movements you learn to hone your focus and strengthen your mind. You also block out anything from the outside world that may be stressing you out or bothering you. It leads to a state of active relaxation.
What You Need To Get Started in Yoga
In order to get started in yoga, you need very little but you will need a few things. Here is what you will need, especially after the first class.
Any form of working out means that you need motivation. It will be challenging and after the workout, you might not be tempted to come back. Don’t skip lessons unless you have no other choice. Meaning that if you aren’t laid up in bed, you need to go to class.
Yoga means that your clothes will be pushed to the limits. Any clothing that you choose to wear should be form fitting and able to move with you. Clothing that binds you will make it hard to find those positions. The clothing needs to support you.
Yoga Mats, Blocks & Accessories
Unless you want to rent one, or the studio that you practice at provides mats, you will need to get a yoga mat. There are many options out there for you. Find one that provides you the comfort that you need. If you are a beginner or someone working with less flexibility you should probably invest in a set of yoga stability blocks. There are different sizes of blocks to be used, just make sure to get something that is stabile enough for your purposes. Another good investment would be a yoga strap to help you in your stretching.