Classical yoga has developed over time to include many styles for a range of situations, needs and preferences. However, the majority of Yoga styles still fall neatly into either the therapeutic or the meditative category.
Both categories have many hundreds of different Asanas, (poses or positions) and all of these are designed to benefit both the body and the mind. Yoga takes the five ‘prayer’ positions and uses a corresponding yoga position to activate the seven chakras in the body.
A Chakra is a type of energy field or is sometimes thought as a key position in the flow of energy throughout our body.
Each different type of Yoga and each different Yoga position will have a different chakra as it’s core emphasis.
All of these positions, which we tend to think of nowadays in Western Yoga as exercises, were in fact originally the preparation for the Yogi to enter a state of meditation.
The actual positions or poses of Yoga are known as Asanas and they may seem complicated or difficult to a new Yoga student.
It’s important not to forget that all the basic positions of Yoga are designed to improve the bodies’ strength and flexibility, and as these characteristics are improved it also makes the positions more comfortable and easier to settle into.
The deep stretching that is the basis of most Yoga positions is beneficial for trauma disorders, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow amongst others.
Before you begin you may find it beneficial to attain a basic knowledge of the philosophy and theory behind Yoga, however this is not a requirement or essential to your success.
It does assist with being comfortable settling into and performing the poses associated with Yoga, and it should be remembered that if you cannot do this then you will probably not benefit from Yoga.
There is a common misconception about Yoga that it is only for the tremendously flexible who can contort themselves into weird and wonderful positions.
Chanting is often also associated with a Yoga class in people’s preconceptions.
Neither of these ideas is true.
The Yoga positions are generally quite easy to get into but they do have several depths in many cases.
This means that a beginner can move into a position and still benefit from it at a great level after many years of Yoga. There are some advanced positions that a beginner should probably not bother themselves with.
Just as you are not going to compete with top marathon runners on your first day jogging, but can still get benefits, you are also not going to be able to ease into some of the positions that an instructor is capable of.
Likewise, if you are pregnant or perhaps have an injury such as a bad back you should inform your Yoga instructor before you begin.
There are some positions that can actually be detrimental to certain conditions.
Twist exercises with a recurring back injury is one of these.
Yoga is something that is most beneficial in a comfortable environment, as the muscles will stretch better when they are still warm.
It’s important to learn the discipline to enter and leave each new pose or position slowly.
Not only does this help to avoid injury but also the movement from one pose to another is often part of the program. Don’t hold the poses and positions longer than is natural for you either. As you become more used to practicing the Yoga positions each day the benefits will allow you to hold a position with more ease for longer periods of time.
When practiced correctly the benefits of Yoga are many. Lubrication of the joints, ligaments and the tendons will result directly from performing the exercises best suited to you.
Posture will increase dramatically and you will also experience a sense of well-being. There is also a deeper spiritual level to Yoga (it actually has it’s own philosophy and code of ethics) that you will move closer towards and enhance each time you stretch and go through the breathing exercises.
Frequently Asked Questions On Yoga:
Yoga has been around for an incredibly long time and over that period different practitioners have added their own refinements and styles into the basic Yoga discipline.
There are so many styles now it is nearly impossible to count, but they all stem from the same core philosophy and methodology.
Unfortunately the multiple different styles often lead newcomers to the exercise discipline to become very confused as to what they are doing and what they can hope to achieve with Yoga.
In this article we answer some of the common questions.
What is Yoga?
This question is the most common from newcomers.
Most people have a general idea but they are not sure where Yoga fits into the world.
Is it an exercise? Is it a philosophy? Is it a form of physical therapy?
Is it a spiritual process? The answer is that to different people Yoga is all of these things.
At it’s core it is a group of exercises and poses which are very low impact and work by strengthening the body and increasing it’s flexibility through static exercise.
This means that each pose will ‘stretch’ a certain area and the body benefits from this stretch by increased blood flow and energy release.
Many of the exercises release tension from areas of the body that regular activities do not cater to.
Because Yoga is performed slowly and with a strong emphasis on correct breathing patterns there is also a strong mental and spiritual element to the exercise.
It is seen as a way of cleansing mind, body and spirit.
Do I Need To Be Religious To Get The Most Out Of Yoga?
As mentioned above Yoga is different things to different people.
There are many people in the world who perform Yoga purely for its spiritual benefits.
There are many others who perform Yoga purely for the physical benefits associated with it.
What you get out of Yoga will depend largely on your mindset, your openness to new ideas and your ability to let yourself fall fully into a meditative state.
For some people this is very difficult at first, but that is still not going to prevent them from getting the physical benefits associated with Yoga classes.
You will find that even if you do not have any strong spiritual base you will still benefit from an increase in your self-confidence and personal contentment.
Where Can I Do Yoga?
Practically anywhere. Many people practice Yoga in their homes every day.
Others will go to the local park and practice Yoga with a group of friends.
To begin with it’s a good idea to inquire at your local gym about Yoga classes, many of them will be holding Yoga every day.
Even if they aren’t they will be able to tell you where the best place to learn Yoga is.
Some local councils sponsor Yoga classes in their area in recognition of the benefits to people who exercise regularly.
One of the big advantages of a Yoga based exercise regime is that there is no expensive equipment to buy and then store around your house.
Some poses are assisted by cushions to support the body, but in general the only thing you need is your body.
I’m Not Very Fit – Is Yoga For Me?
Yes. Very much so. One of the fantastic things about Yoga is that the exercises and poses you will learn can be adjusted to your level.
Fitness isn’t usually a problem because the exercises are slow and often static.
Your body will become better at performing them over time as your strength and flexibility improves.
Knowing your limit and ensuring that you don’t ‘ease up’ out of habit gain the best benefit.
Hopefully you will now have a good understanding of what yoga is and why you should be doing it.
Remember that Yoga is something that once learned can be practiced anywhere you like and as often as you like.
Indeed, this is one of the key components of Yoga’s popularity.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this post or this site in general.
I will answer all the comments on my website personally so drop me a line below if you have any Yoga questions or comments.
I’m happy to help any way that I can.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietitian before starting any fitness program or making any changes to your diet