What is Yoga?
What is Yoga?
Yoga means a lot of different things to lots of different people and I'm going to refrain from diving into a detailed description here. Instead I'm simply going to say what practicing Yoga in the modern world can involve.
When you begin practicing Yoga it's likely that the you'll start in a group class or one to one under the guidance of a teacher who will guide you towards a Yoga posture (Asana), goal or focus within the lesson. This can result in your muscles and joints becoming stronger and more stable, improving your posture, calming the body and mind, and improving your overall health. Yoga is hugely adaptable for all ages, body shapes, disabilities, health issues and is equally useful and effective for men and women.
Many classes will also incorporate a few minutes of breathing practices (Pranayama) to further improve your overall health and well being. The fact is many of us breath badly without knowing it and this can be detrimental to our health.
Most classes will also incorporate a few minutes of relaxation practice and/or meditation. Many of us are stressed, work too many hours and seem to have too little time for ourselves. A guided relaxation or meditation practice within the class gives the body time to release some relax and let go, calming the body and mind.
A huge variation of different styles of Yoga exist all with there own unique take on Yoga. So there's a practice to suit most peoples needs. A few named styles that you may see advertised are summarised below.
- Hatha Yoga is one of the most widely available forms of Yoga. A balanced approach that generally includes a mix of posture, breath work and relaxation. A varied adaptable style to suit most peoples needs.
- Ashtanga Yoga is a fast paced form flowing quickly from one pose to another in a set series of postures (Vinyasa).
- Iyengar Yoga is a precise form that focuses on alignment using blacks, blankets and straps (props) to assist the postures.
- Bikram Yoga is a specific set of postures practiced in a hot room.
- Scaravelli Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga inspired by the approach of Vanda Scaravelli. This form focuses on movements and poses to improve postural awareness, encourages healthy grounded movement that calms and balances the body and mind.
If you do decide to learn more you'll find Yoga is in fact a way of life and a lifelong learning journey. For many people, after a while of practicing the postures, the breathing and the relaxation, they find their outlook on life gradually changes. As you delve deeper into the rich tradition of Yoga you may find a new better you.