Benefits of yoga
The most noticeable benefit of yoga is an increase in flexibility. Positions act on various joints, some of which are not stretched by other activities or daily movement otherwise. Even beginners will notice a marked improvement in their flexibility in a very short time. it’s also increases lubrication of joints, ligaments and tendons. Even very basic non-strenuous poses for beginners work in harmony with the rest of the body to create a balance where overall flexibility can be attained relatively easily.
All the organs of the body are massaged during yoga, including internal glands and organs which are not often stimulated by other activities. This is said by many to ward off disease and boost the immune system. Yoga is also great for circulation and providing optimum blood supply to organs, due to the poses that stretch muscles and joints and massage organs. This also flushes out toxins and is believed to delay aging, increase energy and provide a beautiful outer glow. Intermediate and advanced yoga provides for good toning of the muscles by stimulating them repeatedly.
Probably the greatest benefit of yoga is the harmonious balance of mind, body and soul. This great balance can relieve stress and help us to take on the functions of daily life with ease. Yoga and meditation come together to give the practitioner a state of bliss and calm that can elevate the overall physical health of the body.
Styles of yoga
There are dozens of types of yoga. Beginners would do well to start with Hatha yoga, which is generally slow-paced and gentle. A style of yoga concentrating on body alignment is called Iyengar yoga. This type of yoga focuses on holding poses for long periods of time and includes the use of yoga blankets, blocks and straps. Meanwhile, Kundalini yoga places emphasis on breath in conjunction with physical movement. The aim here is to release energy in the lower body and allow it to move upwards.
Bikram yoga is very popular these days and is also called Hot yoga. It is a series of 26 yoga poses practiced in a room at around 37˚C to allow for profuse sweating and the loosening of muscles. Vinyasa, meaning breath-synchronised movement, is usually a more vigorous style based on the performance of a series of poses called Sun Salutations in which movement is matched to breath. More advanced practitioners may enjoy Ashtanga, which means ‘eight limbs’ in Sanskrit. This is an intensive, fast-paced yoga that is very physically demanding and is often called Power yoga.
When deciding to invite yoga into your lifestyle, you should explore a variety of types before choosing one. If you don’t like a certain style, then try another. Your yoga teacher is probably even more important than the style of yoga, and you should always practice with someone who makes you feel comfortable and explains the poses in a way that you can understand.
Some people are more confident learning yoga from a DVD at home, while others prefer to join a class. A class can be very beneficial as you can ask questions and meet other people interested in yoga; however, learning at home might be more convenient. It’s ideal to practice yoga daily, so you could do a combination of classes and home practice.
When practicing yoga, especially as a beginner, you should know your limits and practice conservatively to avoid injury. If you’re pregnant, you should check with your physician to see if it’s safe for you to practice yoga, and find an instructor who is qualified to teach yoga for pregnancy. Along with yoga comes the desire to eat healthier, achieve a more sanctimonious balance in work and pleasure, find a deeper connection to your inner being, and commune with nature. Once yoga becomes part of your life, you will never want to stop practicing it!