Understanding Yoga and How Everyone Can Benefit
Have you heard of yoga, but you aren’t sure what it is? Are you skeptical about it being beneficial? If so, this week’s post is for you! Let us show you all about the magic of yoga!
What is Yoga?
Yoga differs from other types of exercising because of its slow, controlled nature. People doing yoga won’t be breathing heavily—but they will be working hard, breathing deliberately, and likely working up a sweat. Don’t let the quiet demeanor of the practice fool you, it isn’t always easy!
Different people will explain yoga as different things. Some people call it a form of exercising while others consider it a form of meditation. However, everyone seems to agree on one thing: Yoga connects the body and mind.
Yoga uses a series of deliberate, controlled poses to improve posture, balance, flexibility, and strength. Each pose focuses on a specific area of the body, making the mind more aware in the process.
There are several different types of yoga practices. Each type focuses on a slightly different aspect of the mind/body connection, although many of them are connected and each form of yoga builds on another form.
Many yoga classes combine different aspects of several practices, but the most commonly referred to form of yoga is Hatha Yoga. This type (also known as a school), of yoga is very slow and gentle, making it a good way to start a yoga practice. It introduces the fundamentals of yoga such as breathing and proper form. It’s an excellent way to reduce stress after a long day!
Another type of yoga that is steadily increasing in popularity is Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga. This practice takes place in a room or tent that is typically heated significantly. The heat experienced in this form of yoga is meant to help the body cleanse itself through sweat and increased blood circulation. However, it is very important to pay attention to hydration levels and be mindful of any other health problems if you choose to try this form of yoga because it puts an increased amount of stress on the body. Some people love this form of yoga while other people prefer to utilize more traditional forms of yoga in a comfortable setting. I will talk about more types of yoga in my next blog.
Benefits or the magic of Yoga
The practice of yoga offers many benefits ranging from spiritual to physical, including (but not limited to!):
• Improves mental clarity
• Increases oxygen levels and blood circulation
• Increases balance
• Promotes a healthy body & mind connection through self-awareness
• Promotes physical fitness and overall well-being
Yoga is beneficial for everyone from beginners in the fitness world to highly trained Olympic athletes. As long as there are no medical limitations, anyone can start and benefit from yoga, whether it becomes a daily practice or is just done on occasion.
It’s an excellent form of cross training, a good way to start exercising while recovering from an injury or a prolonged period of time without working out, or a way to strengthen and balance muscles you use for your favorite sport.
One of the best things about any school of yoga is that there is little to no equipment needed to practice it successfully. A yoga mat or soft surface will often make it more comfortable, particularly for poses that require the body to be on the ground. Many people believe it should be completed barefoot and special socks with traction features on the bottoms have been developed to help prevent slipping when practicing yoga on hard floors. At home, or when you’re just starting out, a thick towel or even a blanket can be used in place of a yoga mat. In my class I also use belt straps to help with flexibility and also blocks to help and support with certain postures.
How to Start Practicing Yoga
If you’re interested in trying yoga for the first time, or going back to it after leaving the practice, classes can be a great way to incorporate it into your routine. The instructor will review the basics and help you learn the proper ways to move and breath for the most effective results both physically and mentally.
One of the biggest suggestions I can give is to find a teacher and style that you like and relate too. I have met people who have told me they tried yoga once and didn’t like it. This is such a shame as they might have found a teacher and style that they really related to and felt comfortable with. There are all kinds of people teaching yoga, all with unquie personalities. I would recommend finding a teacher that makes you feel good, that uplifts and inspires you! A teacher that explains the postures and philosphies well. I am sure there is a style of yoga out there to suit us all and a teacher that we can resonate with. So I would suggest shopping around and trying a few styles and teachers to find a class that fits you best.
Remember, start off slowly whether you choose to attend a class or practice yoga on your own. Take the time to learn each pose carefully and use proper form to reduce the risk of injury and increase the benefits you will see and feel. You should feel gradual, gentle stretching as you progress through the poses, but you shouldn’t feel discomfort or make sharp movements. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself into positions you aren’t ready for.
As you become consistent in your yoga practice, your body will naturally begin to improve and you’ll find yourself balancing easier, naturally aligning into each new posture, and your flexibility greatly improved. Quality is much more important while practicing yoga than quantity, even if it means you can only get through two or three poses in a session. Be patient with yourself and focus on what your mind and your body is telling you.
Louise is a British Wheel of yoga and Yoga for Health Foundation teacher.
At Fresh Start we believe yoga is a great way to improve self-awareness and is good addition to any healthy lifestyle. At our boot camp we incorporate yoga into our daily activities on a regular basis so our participants can experience the benefits first hand. Many continue to practice yoga as part of their self-directed wellness plans once they leave our resort. Do you want to hear what our guests say about us? please check out our website or our facebook page. Has yoga had a positive impact on your life? We want to hear!
Would you like to take a more in-depth look at all the popular yoga styles then check out this blog ‘top ten yoga style’