Yoga is an ancient practice and philosophy originating from India that encompasses physical, mental and spiritual disciplines in order to achieve a healthy body and mind. Yoga consists of various poses and postures (asanas), breathing techniques and meditation. But it is not just about bending your body into odd shapes. Yoga can help those who want a more cohesive and stimulating kind of exercise, to help them lose weight or strengthen their core. The exercises help to build strength and improve flexibility.
- Improved circulation
- Improved digestion
- Cardiovascular benefits – holding muscle tension for short periods of time strengthens cardiovascular fitness
- Increases flexibility
- Encourages healthier diet
- Improved balance
- Improved hand-eye coordination
- Improved posture
Apart from the obvious health benefits that practising yoga can give you, it can also deepen your perception of what yoga really is; a spiritual practice that harmonises the body and mind.
Yoga for beginners
If you’re new to yoga, there are a few things you should know. It is important that you try to get the technique correct and worry less about performing it with the greatest flexibility. We all have different levels of flexibility, and yoga can help you improve it, but must have the technique down first. A poor posture can do more harm than good. The more classes you attend, the better you will become at the poses and the greater confidence you will have to perform them. Yoga should always be practiced on an empty stomach.
There’s more to yoga than the asanas, it is true that you can learn the poses and breathing online, but an instructor can teach you how to meditate. There is a lot of knowledge and philosophy imbedded into yoga that can help you in life in other ways. Some of the values within yoga include peace, honesty, patience and contentment.
Common types of yoga
- Anti-gravity yoga – this is a type of yoga that combines a number of physical disciplines. It is different from many types of yoga in that silk hammocks are suspended from the ceiling, used to support you in performing the movements. The hammock allows you to stretch and strengthen your body and limbs without causing stress to your spine.
- Bikram Yoga – this yoga is practiced in 40.6°C and 40% humidity for 90 minutes. It is meant to mimic the humid conditions of India. There are 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, making it a good alternative yoga for beginners.
- Vinyasa Yoga – this is a modern form of classical Indian yoga. It flows from one pose to the other quite quickly.
- Hatha Yoga – classes tend to focus on slower, gentler movements. A slow-paced stretching is good for beginners
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