Yoga: What exactly is it?
Yoga is a sequence of postures and breathing exercises that aim to improve both physical and mental well-being. As described in the scriptures, this ancient art of living presents itself as an initiatory path that surpasses physical discipline.
The first reference to yoga can be found in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, which were written roughly 200 years before our era. This book explains the core of yoga philosophy and how it can be applied in many aspects of our lives.
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The various styles of yoga
Yoga comes in a variety of styles, each emphasising a different part of the practice.
- There are dynamic yogas in which the sequence of postures is done at the rhythm of the breath, such as ashtanga and vinyasa; in these rather physical sessions, the cardiovascular system is enhanced while softening and strengthening the body.
- Iyengar, a more static yoga, stresses body alignment; here, we take the time to analyse each asana, developing an understanding of our body.
- Hatha yoga is a mild yoga that is easily done by seniors.
It is critical to choose the style of yoga that best suits us; this is highly dependent on our capability.
It is desirable to be in good general health and physical condition to profit from the benefits of dynamic yogas; otherwise, it becomes difficult to follow the rhythm, which increases the risk of damage.
Those with back problems and who are not athletic should practise a less active yoga that takes the time to explain postures, such as Iyengar and hatha.
Other Yoga Styles
Although the traditional poses have been established and have remained the same for millennia, hatha-yoga continues to evolve and has assumed various shapes, particularly during the twentieth century. Each yoga style mixes postures, breathing exercises, and meditation in a different way, whether it is more vigorous or gentle, vibrant or serene. The following are the most popular yogas in the West.
Anusara Yoga: John Friend developed a unique style of yoga in 1997. It soon gained popularity and is now available in 70 countries. Its basic tenet is to honour the heart and to perceive the good in everyone and everything.
Ashtanga Yoga: It is distinguished by the coordination of breathing with quick sequences of progressively difficult positions. This significantly increases metabolism and body warmth. Ashtanga is a terrific endurance workout. Power Yoga is a highly active version that has emerged in the United States. Book 200 hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh and be expert Ashtanga Yoga Teacher.
Integral Yoga: It was created in the 1960s in the United States and offers a balanced combination of postures, breathing, meditation, and relaxation. (Not to be confused with Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual method, often known as integral yoga.)
Iyengar Yoga: Disciplined and intense training where we insist on limb and, most importantly, spine alignment; highly health oriented. There is no spiritual connotation, but there is a meditative aspect.
Kripalu Yoga: A dance of the body, mind, and energy that focuses on breathing methods. Beneficial to the cardiovascular, digestive, and neurological systems in particular.
Kundalini Yoga: Above all, it seeks to activate Kundalini, the original healing energy. Through posture sequences, the technique focuses on meditative awareness.
Vedanta or Sivananda: The courses are taught in the Sivananda organization’s own centres. Positive thinking, meditation, breathing, relaxation, and diet are all emphasised. The spiritual aspect is quite present.
Kriya Sudarshan: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar developed this style of yoga in the early 1980s. It is now practised in over 140 countries and depends largely on breathing to harmonise the body and mind.
Viniyoga: Is distinguished by the integration of movement and breathing, as well as by specific instruction that is tailored to each individual.
Prenatal yoga classes are designed specifically for pregnant women’s needs. The instructor then selects specific exercises (postural and breathing) to assist patients in overcoming the hardships of pregnancy, facilitating the stages of labour, and promoting the return to body balance following birth. Any of the motions listed above may have been practised by instructors.
Bikram Yoga : Bikram Yoga is a modern yoga style with very stringent session conditions: the room temperature must be 40 degrees and the air must be 40% humidified. This article will define Bikram yoga, explain its principles and benefits, where it came from, who it is intended for, and what hazards there are.
When we talk about yoga today, we mostly mean the practise of asanas and pranayama, or postures that try to soften and develop the body and breathing techniques that regulate the flow of vital energy.
Yoga provides numerous physical advantages, including muscle relaxation (yoga postures are varied to stretch all major muscle groups). Some postures serve to gently build muscle, while others focus on balance.
We can fix posture mistakes that have developed throughout our lives with consistent practise, which considerably lowers chronic back problems. According to a 2008 Temple University study, practising Iyengar yoga improves balance in women over the age of 65.
Yoga can help you relax. During the session, our focus is fully on the body and the breath; we are in the “here and now,” which is a type of meditation. A study published in 2010 by Boston University found that yoga was useful in alleviating anxiety.
On the mat, we are urged to listen to our bodies; our focus is constantly drawn back to the breath, and we strengthen our ability to concentrate. For example, in balance exercises, we must pay whole attention to preserving our posture.
Yoga poses to practise at home
To avoid injuring yourself, it is better to practise at home with simple poses such as:
The triangle (trikonasana): Stand with your feet together, step forward with your right foot, place your right hand on your right ankle, and raise your left arm in the sky, trying to keep your chest aligned with your right leg. Repeat on the other side.
The child’s position (balasana) is ideal for alleviating stress in the lower back: kneel down, feet and knees together, then place your forehead on the ground in front of you and bring your arms down your body, paying attention to your breathing.
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A yoga practise session
The sessions might vary greatly depending on the type of yoga. At the start of a dynamic yoga class, the entire body is warmed up, with emphasis on the muscle area that the teacher has chosen to work on more specifically.
After warming up, we increase the intensity of the practise with a series of standing and balance poses. The final section of the course tries to return the heart rate to normal, after which we favour stretching in sitting and lying postures. We finish the practise with the posture of the dead, also known as “shavasana,” which consists of lying on your back and relaxing all of your muscles.
What do I need to attend a yoga class?
Yoga does not require much equipment, only a mat for comfort. In certain kinds of yoga, particularly Iyengar, you can utilise “bolsters,” which are huge cousins on which you can rest part of your body.
What is the yoga instructor’s background?
The yoga instructor must finish a minimum of 200 hours of training before continuing on to a 300-hour training to enhance his knowledge and improve his teaching techniques.
Finally, yoga is a way of life as well as a comprehensive physical activity for both the body and the mind. Yoga practise not only improves strength and flexibility, but it also reduces stress and anxiety.
Yoga’s Brief History
Patanjali explained that yoga is a route that leads to Samadhi, or unity with the original essence. There are eight branching on this route. To go on the road of yoga, one must first adhere to a set of ethical rules known as the Yamas and Nimyamas, which serve as the foundation of this philosophy (not to steal, not to covet, to have discipline, to study of oneself and of the sacred texts…)
Then there is the practise of asanas, which are the postures taught in a yoga class. Asanas soften and strengthen the body while also teaching us to focus our attention in the present moment.
Once the posture practise has been thoroughly integrated, we can progress to the third level, which is the harmonisation and regulation of breathing: pranayama. Breathing exercises manage our prana, or life power.
The path of the yogi (the practitioner of yoga) subsequently gets more profound, including concepts such as sense abstraction and meditation, always with the goal of merging with the higher principle and returning to unity: samadhi.