What is yoga?
A beginners guide to the practice.
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 are the popular styles of yoga?
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
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.
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.
A deeper look at the benefits of yoga
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!