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What is yoga?

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What is yoga?

A beginners guide to the practice. 


Yoga Explained

Yoga is generally recognised as a spiritual or ascetic discipline which merges the breath, mind and physical practice.

The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yoke’ which means to unionize or join.

In traditional yoga, the postures are generally called asanas, and the breathing exercises are known as pranayama.

what is yoga?

What is yoga?

What are the popular styles of yoga?

Most modern yoga practiced today is an influence of hatha yoga and vinyasa yoga, and they are the most popular types.

Hot yoga is also growing in popularity, with its own variations. 

There are many different types of yoga focusing on different health and therapeutic benefits.

The word yoga comes from the word yoke - which means union in Sanskrit! Thanks Yoga Theory! Click To Tweet
what is yoga?

What is yoga?


History of yoga

Yoga is generally believed to have come from the Pre-Vedic tradition in India.

It’s tradition and influence grew throughout history through to the Middle Ages.

Traditional yoga practice was mostly a spiritual discipline.

The focus being on understanding the nature of mind and reality.

More so, the nature of the mind, body and spirit within ones environment.

Because of this, traditional yoga was mostly understood by self-enquiry and introspection.

Yoga become popularized in Western culture in the mid 19th century, as did a lot of the Indian yoga philosophy known today.

A guide to vinyasa yoga

Vinyasa yoga school


The most common benefits of yoga

Research from Harvard University showed that just eight weeks of consistent yoga considerably improved one’s quality of life. 

Yoga is known to have many common benefits with the most reported being: 

  • Improved concentration;
  • Increased flexibility;
  • Greater strength;
  • Improved cardio-vascular health;
  • Weight loss;
  • Better sleep.

port adelaide yoga festival


A deeper look at the benefits of yoga

Yoga for weight loss

Our breath and yoga practice can heavily influence our happiness and emotional stability.

By controlling the breath through a regular yoga practice, we can control the fluctuations of the mind’s psychology.

This works by regulating the parasympathetic nervous system.

This helps to balance your hormones, which can also link to dietary choices and the way the body works. 

It does this by increasing the levels of leptin, a hormone that is used to control our cravings for food. 

Private Yoga Lessons

Yoga Teacher in Australia

Yoga improves your physical fitness

Yoga also improves your exercise stamina and general physical fitness.

This research by Harvard Medical School showed that after eight weeks of practicing yoga,  participants had improved physical fitness.

The notes that muscle strength, flexibility and cardio vascular endurance all improved. 

Yoga breathing techniques can also improve the use of the lungs and maximise your oxygen intake.

This is why yoga is becoming more popular with athletes and runners.

Yoga reduces stress

Yoga can be used to reduce stress by controlling the fluctuations of the mind. 

A regular yoga practice has been shown to reduce stress.

So whether you are stressed at work, or you just feel like being present try some deep Ujjayi breathing.

Yoga for low stress

Reduce Stress with Yoga


How does yoga improve strength?

Yoga is predominantly a bodyweight form of exercise.

For this reason, it mostly targets the core muscles that helps to improve our stability.

By strengthening our deep-abdominal muscles we keep our torso toned and improve our posture.

But there’s more to it. 

Through training with your own body-weight, the body can recover faster.

This is good because it’s suited for both beginners and advanced practitioners.

For example, a simple downward facing dog pose will build muscles in your back shoulders and arms.

Likewise, tiger curls will engage your abs, butt and arms and really work your core.

Adelaide yoga classes

Twisted Downward Dog

What is the recommended age?

Yoga is suitable for everyone, but not every class is suitable for everyone.

It is important to narrow in on what you want from yoga, and find a style that accommodates to those needs.

With the popularity of yoga growing, it is common to see new yoga styles directed at kids, seniors and other niche markets. 

Ultimately, anyone can practice yoga and there is no set age participation. 

A guide to vinyasa yoga

Vinyasa yoga school


How do people do yoga?

People generally do yoga in a group lesson, private lesson or by themselves.

When taking a class, participants normally start by warming up the body. 

After that they generally work through a range of seated and standing based yoga poses with reference to the breath and alignment. 

Some forms of yoga, such as hot yoga, are performed in heated rooms for extra therapeutic and health benefits. 

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What is yoga?

There are now many yoga styles are available.

Because of this, there are more options for different people, seeking different health and therapeutic benefits. 

There are even contemporary forms of yoga such as naked yoga that are becoming more popular.  

There's more to yoga than I thought! Click To Tweet

Who owns yoga?

No one owns yoga, yoga is for everyone. 

Although there are many traditions and variations of yoga, these are only interpretations.

Yoga is the mergence of breath, philosophy and movement. 

This video documentary helps explain the history and changing nature of yoga. 


Credit: Al Jazeera Youtube

About Yoga Theory

Yoga Theory is a boutique yoga studio based in Adelaide.

Learn more about us

Restorative Yoga in Adelaide

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Restorative Yoga Classes

What is restorative yoga?

Restorative yoga is a practice of yoga that uses a range of props to help the body relax and be comfortable.

It is generally a slower pace of yoga that helps people of all ages and body types experience a relaxed style of yoga.

A person taking this class is generally looking to rejuvenate the body whilst finding a way to provide some rest for the mind.

yin yoga adelaid

Cat’s are the masters!

How does the restorative yoga style work?

Restorative yoga can help the practitioner experience rest and mindfulness in their practice.

The breathing practices associated with this style of yoga aims to help the body to synthesise the prana and aparna forces.

Generally, prana in yoga is the upward flowing life force breath and the Aparna is the downward flowing life force.

This helps to create a balance within your subtle energy systems.

This is good for people who are feeling like they need a bit more balance in their life!

Some bonus tips on spirituality

Back to restorative yoga

The slow and controlled breathing in restorative yoga can help relax your body.

Your body becomes relaxed because of the activation of the the parasympathetic nervous system.

Because of this activation, the breathing becomes more controlled and deeper.

These breathing techniques can also be used to help increase the flow of blood and lymph in the body.

Restorative yoga adelaide

Time to unwind?

 

You can learn more about our yoga classes and studio services here

Can we really know anything in yoga philosophy?

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Warning: This is a very abstract, philosophical post. General knowledge in philosophy is recommended before reading. The views are that of an independent author and not a representation of Yoga Theory beliefs.  

yoga philosohpy

Do we really know anything?

What this post is about and how it relates to yoga philosophy?

This post will examine whether we can really know anything in yoga philosophy or life generally. The basis of this posts builds on Descarte’s foundation of knowledge which is widely accepted to be the basis of understanding anything in higher philosophical thought.

Because of this, if it’s likely that we can not really know anything, then it’s likely we can’t know anything about yoga.

So, to do this we will examine Descartes’ justification of knowledge, by assessing his method of doubt under the broader theme of scepticism in philosophy.

Descartes’ was behind the famous phrase “I think, therefore I am.” 

This was used to justify the existence of knowledge. Basically, because he could not doubt that he exists, he thinks knowledge must be real. Further, because of his mind, and a higher power giving him that mind, it would make sense that the mind would not be misleading. And therefore, that knowledge is real. 

This post concludes that Descartes’ foundation for knowledge is fallible, and therefore, fails to build a secure foundation for knowledge.

Based on that broader theme, any yoga philosophical thought may not be justified. In other words, we can not really know anything.

So any beliefs we have on yoga or life, may not even be real except that we imagine it to be so. 

Scepticism

What is scepticism in philosophy? 

Scepticism is a broad term in epistemology (the study of knowledge), encompassing the view that true knowledge is unattainable, and thus, having knowledge is not rationally justified.[1]

For sceptics, to know something as knowledge, it must be impossible for it to be mistaken. [2]

So, because our conceptual system can be misleading, such as when we are dreaming, or hallucinating – scepticism endorses the idea that we cannot truly know anything.[3]

So here, at the extreme end of scepticism, we could all be in a dream right now, even though we think we are awake reading this paper on yogatheory.com.au

Descartes

How did Descartes see knowledge?

Descartes’ attempted to refute the sceptics and give knowledge an incontestable foundation, similar to that in mathematics.[4]

He was well aware that the mind could play tricks on us and therefore became sceptical of what he could really know, as most things, to him, were doubtable. Yet, after deep reflection, he realised that there was something he could not doubt, the fact that he was thinking.[5] He believed this was enough to build a solid priori for knowledge.

At the core of Descartes’ reasoning, was that, although you can doubt perception and reason, the fact that one is thinking, is beyond doubt.[6]

From this reasoning, he argues that, although something someone sees or thinks may not be real, it cannot be denied that they think they are seeing or thinking it.

Descartes’ was well aware that this alone, would not satisfy the sceptics, so he brings God into the equation. He argues that, because of a non-deceiving God, our reasoning is clear, and therefore, our link to reality is secure.[7] To support this, Descartes’ relies on causality, and believes that, by introspect, we can see the perfection of God, in our thoughts about God.[8]

So, because of the unquestionable nature of God, being a non-deceiver, our knowledge is true, if we follow the correct reasoning process. Descartes’ not only believes this is true, but undeniably true.[9]

yoga philosophy

Closer Inspection

Is Descartes’ justification for knowledge rational? 

Descartes’ justification of knowledge is unlikely infallible. He believes that our thoughts, if they are clear and distinct, are a solid foundation for knowledge.[10]

This is a problem because something may appear clear and distinct, when it is not. Sometimes what we believe and understand can be misleading and deceptive.[11]

For example, just because you seem to be doing something, does not mean that you are, in reality, doing that thing. You could be imagining that you are doing it.

If one simply relies on first person reports of knowledge as a foundation, you can believe something as true when it is not.[12] Even if it does not fit with the outside world at all. To overcome this problem, it would have to be possible to apply neutrality to a situation.

However, as we are subjective beings, this cannot be done. Yet, Descartes’ simply argues that because of God, our reasoning will be clear, and we will not be deceived.[13]

Is there a non-deceiving God?                                                                      

Descartes’ foundation of knowledge is dependent on the existence of a non-deceiving God. His justification of God is dependent on the theory of cause and effect.

Descartes believes that, simply because we have the idea of an objectively perfect God, a perfect God must actually exist, or we would not be able to think it.

Yet, this fails to address broader concerns.

What if an idea of God does not exist, or if it is the atheist version of God, then God would be that idea.[14] What if the cause and effect theory is not as straight forward as it seems? If so, the idea of God as a non-deliver may not be true. Or, in any sense, it is almost certainly not infallible.

Further, you can get the idea of a perfect God by the concept of negation, thus the idea of a perfect god may only be illusory.[15] Again, Descartes assumes this is not the case. Yet, assumptions are fallible.

Could Descartes’ have made errors in his reasoning?

Descartes argues that, although the mind plays tricks on us, this does not mean it is right now. Yet, how do we really know when the mind is playing tricks on us, and when it is not?

By justifying knowledge, with the understanding we obtain through our own mind, it seems we cannot really get anywhere.

There is no real way to determine that what we are obtaining is real knowledge. Descartes simply responds to this by arguing that, if our reasoning is clear and distinct, it will be correct. However, for clear and distinct reasoning, it is dependent on God, which may or may not actually exist.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing arguments, it seems that Descartes’ has failed to provide an incontestable foundation for knowledge.

Descartes’ method of doubt requires something extra than mere common sense, it requires faith in something beyond ourselves, and relies on assumptions, such as causality and God.

Although there are strong arguments to suggest that this may be the case, we cannot be certain of this. Thus, Descartes’ attempt to provide a solid foundation for knowledge is fallible.

It seems, if we do know anything, it is in knowing we do not really know anything.

 

 

If you made it through this article, let us know what you thought below! 

Footnotes

[1] E Sober, Core Questions in Philosophy (3rd Ed, 2001) 149.

[2] A Moreton, A Guide through the Theory of Knowledge (3rd Ed, Blackwell, 2003).

[3] D Pritchard, What Is This Thing Called Knowledge, (1st Ed, 2014).

[4] R Descartes, Meditations On First Philosophy, (2008) 26.

[5] R Descartes, Meditations On First Philosophy, (2008) 30.

[6] E Sober, Core Questions in Philosophy (3rd Ed, 2001).

[7] Rene Descartes, The Philosophical Works of Descartes: Volume 1(Cambridge University Press, 1985).

[8] E Sober, Core Questions in Philosophy (3rd Ed, 2001).

[9] E Sober, Core Questions in Philosophy, (3rd Ed, 2001) 149.

[10] Descartes’ Epistemology (24 September 2014) Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes-epistemology/>.

[11] O Mannoni, Freud: The Theory of the Unconscious (1st Ed, London) 55-58.

[12] Richard Fumerton, Foundationalist Theories of Epistemic Justification (13 December) Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.

[13] R Descartes, Meditations On First Philosophy, (2008) 20.

[14] R Descartes, Meditations On First Philosophy, (2008) 25.

[15] A Moreton, A Guide through the Theory of Knowledge (3rd Ed, Blackwell, 2003).

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What is hot yoga?

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What is Hot Yoga?

Hot yoga explained

Hot yoga is generally a form of yoga under heated or humid conditions. 

One of the main reasons for performing hot yoga is to pressure your body to sweat more.

Because you sweat more, it’s believed to help you detox by flushing toxins out of the skin. 

However, the way that hot yoga influences the body depends on both the individual and the style of yoga practiced. 

What is hot yoga?

Hot Yoga Class in Adelaide


How does hot yoga work?

Hot yoga works by putting your body under extra more stress through the heat.

The extra layer of heat forces the body to sweat more, which increases the intensity of the workout and detoxifcation. 

Proponents argue that the increased sweating helps you eliminate more toxins in the body. 

This, coupled by the fact that your actually practicing yoga, helps you experience more of the benefits of yoga. 

In this Harvard University study, researches found that just 8 weeks of yoga practice produced notable benefits.

The most popular forms of hot yoga are heated vinyasa yoga classes and bikram yoga.

Benefits of hot yoga

  • Burn more calories;
  • Oxygenates the body by increasing blood-flow;
  • Improves flexibility and muscle tone;
  • Improves circulation;
  • Reduces stress;

Popular styles of hot yoga

Bikram Yoga

Bikram yoga is a 90 minute sequence that first become popularized in the 1970s. The style consists of a fixed yoga sequence and breathing exercises performed in a heated room.  

Heated Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa classes are one of the most popular styles of yoga. They consist of merging the breath and movement in a dynamic yoga sequence. Heated vinyasa classes perform these sequences under hot yoga conditions. 

Private Yoga Lessons

What is hot yoga? Finally explained

Learn more about what yoga is here! 


Hot Yoga at Yoga Theory

Yoga Theory is a boutique yoga studio in Unley offering classes 7 days;

You can learn more about the classes we do here.

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About Kundalini Yoga

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Kundalini Yoga Classes

We are often getting asked about Kundalini yoga and what is it. Generally Kundalini is a blend of Bhakti Yoga (chanting and devotion), Shakti Yoga (for energy and power) and Raja Yoga ( for physical and mental discipline and control).

A good Kundalini Yoga Class leaves you feeling great, like you have just had a intense moment of happiness and contemplation. One of the main reasons people practice Kundalini is because it helps them unlock their potential and build good Karma. It leaves you with a new sense of wonder and experience about the world.

Kundalini Yoga in Adelaide

Currently we do not offer Kundalini Yoga Classes in Adelaide. We do not do them because we are not trained in Kundalini Yoga. You can learn about the styles we teach here. 

What we offer at Yoga Theory

Yoga Theory is a boutique adelaide yoga studio on King William Road, Unley offering yoga classes for all levels.

Offering 50 minute yoga sessions by professional and highly experienced yoga teachers, we focus on getting our members the best results possible. We do not include philosophy in our sessions and pay close attention to breath, posture and alignment. Our classes are also limited in size to help you get the personalized service you deserve and are paying for, whilst fitting with the theme of our boutique yoga studio.

If you are interested in learning more and training with us, we currently have our intro 7 consecutive days for only $30. This gives new students the ability to try out all of your Adelaide yoga classes for a fixed fee.

We teach a physical focused style of yoga with our Adelaide yoga classes typically running in 50 minute intervals, helping you get your daily stretch before, after or even during work hours. We also offer private yoga lessons and corporate yoga at our studio.

Is yoga heaps spiritual? It can be..

 

Getting started with us

How to choose which class is suitable for you starting out at our Adelaide yoga studio:

  • If you are a complete beginner it is best starting with the balance and stretch class to get the foundations.
  • If you have some experience we recommend jumping straight into the vinyasa flow class.
  • If you want a challenge come to abs, butt and arms class.

If you think that you can benefit from our services, contact us for a free trial class below!