All over social media there are people boasting about the effects yoga has had on their lives and that everybody should be doing it.
But why is that? It isn’t just all about breathing exercises, so we’re here to tell you what really happens when you incorporate yoga into your life.
We’ve probably all thought about trying it at some point in our lives to help alleviate stress, but might not have gotten round to it.
After reading this article you might want to consider going ahead with it.
The Origins of Yoga
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to help boost physical and mental wellbeing, of which the main components are postures and breathing. It originated in India 5,000 years ago and has been adapted in other ways by various countries since then.
In Indian traditions it is more meditative and spiritual at it’s core. It was a way of life for them and you dedicated yourself to the lifestyle and culture, which included healthy eating habits, bathing habits, social interaction and work.
It became popular across the Western world in the 1980s. It is now common in leisure centers, health clubs, schools, hospitals and surgeries with over 15 million practicing the ancient tradition.
The Science Behind It
A group of scientists from the US and the Netherlands carried out a “meta-study” of 37 randomized controlled trials which included over 2,700 test subjects. They found that when yoga was combined with medication it helped decrease the risk of heart disease. They said it suggests:
that there could be comparable working mechanisms, with some possible physiological aerobic benefits occurring with yoga practice, and some stress-reducing, relaxation effect occurring with aerobic exercise.
The study was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Senior author Professor Myriam Hunink from Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston said it represented the growing evidence of yoga’s health benefits.
She went on to say that they don’t have a physiological explanation for yoga’s impact on cardiovascular wellbeing.
Also unclear are the dose-response relationship and the relative costs and benefits of yoga when compared to exercise or medication…However, these results indicate that yoga is potentially very useful and in my view worth pursuing as a risk improvement practice.
Everybody who does yoga claims that it has some amazing benefits and we took an in depth look into what those actually are. For starters yoga is safe and effective in increasing physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance. It is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains, depression and stress. With older people it can help improve balance and co-ordination to reduce the risk of falls. It can also help with arthritis as it promotes flexibility and strength. It can reduce pain and mobility problems in people with knee osteoarthritis.
It isn’t easy to injure yourself when doing yoga but you can have repetitive strain or overstretching so you must be careful with that. It is safe when instructed by someone who understands it and has experience.
Yoga can lower stress and improve your mood and it focuses the mind on your breathing to stop the ‘mind chatter’ and allow you to feel relaxed. It boosts oxygen levels to the brain, leaving you feeling happy and content with everyday life.
It can also help you feel confident by releasing tension to make you feel better about your physical body. Without any anxiety you can establish an internal connection with yourself which can improve compassion and awareness within your relationships.
You don’t have to be very flexible as Yoga will help you to do so safely and effectively by stretching your muscles. It also stretches ligaments and tendons, increasing the range of motion. Yoga has a strong effect on your upper body strength, with a few poses focusing on your core and standing positions strengthen upper leg muscles and lower back. It will improve posture, as your abdominals and back muscles will fully support your weight.
How Do I Get Started?
After reading all of those benefits who wouldn’t want to start right away? It is recommended that you go to a yoga class if you’re a first timer as you can learn the poses and breathing techniques properly and the instructors can correct you f you aren’t doing it right. You can go to a local gym or look up online if there are any classes in the area.
If you feel that it would be too expensive or you have already attended a few classes you can choose from a range of yoga DVDs and tutorials to follow in the comfort of your home.
Yoga can be done anywhere, which is great, as it doesn’t limit you one bit. You don’t even have to wear fancy yoga clothes, just slip into something that is comfortable and allows you to move. Lots of people buy yoga mats because it’s easier but you can just do it on carpet, a towel or even on grass if the weather is nice enough for it. Also, most people do yoga barefoot which is the norm, although some wear socks and soft-shoes sometimes.
It is best to practice on an empty stomach or one to two hours after a full meal. The good thing with yoga is that it doesn’t need to be a long session, it can be as short as 15 minutes of exercises and 15 minutes of breathing and meditation each day to get the benefits.
You do need to be patient and have an open mind to get started, as it could be difficult to begin with if you’re not flexible or used to the poses. Read on to find out which type of yoga would be best for you.
Types of Yoga
Here are the 8 most popular types of Yoga happening all over the world.
Anusara: developed by American yogi John Friend in 1997, relatively new to the yoga world. Anusara seeks to use the physical practice of yoga to help students open their hearts and let inner goodness shine through. Classes are rigorous for the body and the mind.
Ashtanga: based on ancient yoga teachings, popularized in the 1970s by Pattabhi Jois. It is rigorous and follows a specific sequence of postures, similar to vinyasa yoga, as each style links every movement to a breath. Ashtanga always performs the exact same poses in the same order, and it hot, sweaty and demanding.
Bikram: deveopled by Bikram Choudury almost 30 years ago where classes are held in artificially heated rooms. Makes you sweat while working through 26 poses in the same sequence like Ashtanga does. It is extremely popular but controversial as Choudury has trademarked the sequence and prosecutes studios that don’t teach Bikram exactly the same way he does.
Hatha: Hatha is the most popular type of yoga in the western world and refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. You won’t work up a sweat like Bikram, but you will feel longer, looser and relaxed.
Hot Yoga: almost the same as Bikram, with Hot Yoga deviating from the sequence slightly so they have to call it another name for legal reasons.
Iyengar: Pronounced “eye-yen-gar” and developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, it is a meticulous style of yoga with lots of attention paid to finding the proper alignment in a pose. They use yoga props such as blocks, chairs, bolsters and a rope wall. It is physically and mentally challenging, but you won’t be jumping around.
Restorative: this is the best type of yoga to relax and soothe nerves as they use bolsters, blankets and blocks to prop students so that they don’t exert any effort. Is said to be better than a nap in the afternoon.
Vinyasa: is pronounced “vin-yah-sah” and is the Sanskrit work for “flow”. The classes are known for fluid practices that are intense. They move smoothly from pose to pose and have music playing in the background. It is similar to Ashtanga and you can be assured that every class will be different. It is best for those who don’t like routines and want to test themselves physically.
You can be assured that there is a type of yoga out there for you.
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