Yoga is an ancient form of exercise (it dates back 5,000 years) that focusses on breathing, flexibility and strength to boost mental and physical wellbeing. The main components of yoga are postures (also called asanas) and breathing. It’s easy to think of yoga as just for super-fit, bendy people but it’s not the case. Anyone at any level of fitness can benefit from a regular yoga practice. Today we can join a local yoga class or even do yoga at home due to the many yoga classes that are available online. The world generally encourages to look outside of ourselves for fulfilment, but we eventually realise that nothing external can fulfil the deep longing for something ‘more.’ We get caught up in doing rather than being. Our mind and ego creates an endless supply of thoughts which overtime can become unmanageable. Yoga helps to us to get quiet and go within, where we are able to find the answers we seek.
The word yoga means “union” – the union of the soul with the universal consciousness. The postures or asanas are actually the most superficial aspect, most people think of yoga as the just the physical exercises. It is so much more than that, as it takes lots of practice and dedication to progress to more advanced levels of consciousness. Getting involved in yoga can open the doors to improved mental and physical health, inner peace, increased energy levels and feeling more in the flow. Joining a class can also help you to meet like-minded people and expand your social life.
There are many different types of yoga, or yoga paths. Try out different styles of yoga and find the style that is suitable for you.
Hatha yoga – a system of physical postures (includes Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga). Hatha means “wilful” or ‘forceful” (ha means sun and tha means moon). Hatha yoga is designed to calm and align the body, mind and spirit in preparation for meditation.
Restorative yoga – based on the teachings of B.K.S Iyengar, a restorative yoga sequence generally only includes 5-6 poses, and involves props to help you to fully relax. Each pose is held for around five minutes and are mainly light twists, seated forward folds, or gentle backbends.
Vinyasa yoga – a type of yoga flow – students coordinate movement with breath to flow from one pose to the next. It can be translated as “arranging something in a specific way.” It is also the term used to describe a specific sequence of poses (Chaturanga to Upward-Facing Dog to Downward-Facing Dog) commonly used during a vinyasa class.
Iyengar yoga – is a form of Hatha yoga which has an emphasis on detail. precision and alignment of postures (asanas) and breath control (pranyama).
Ashtanga yoga – an intense, flowing style of yoga where the poses are always done in the same order. Ashtanga means ‘eight limbs or branches’ asana is one branch, pranyama is another.
Hot yoga – also known as Bikram yoga, this is a style of yoga performed in hot, humid conditions (the studio is heated to 40C and has a humidity of 40%.
To find out more about yoga, please check out the links below:
The British Wheel of Yoga – The national governing body of yoga in the UK. Promotes a greater
understanding of yoga and its safe practice through experience, education, discussion, study and training.
Yoga Journal – Founded in 1975 by members of the California Yoga Teachers Association, Yoga Journal offers all practitioners—from beginners to masters—expert information on how to live a healthier, happier, more fulfilling life both on and off the mat.
Zenward – A unique online platform designed to help you build a lively, fun Yoga practice, no matter your age, fitness level, body type, or current mindset.