What is yoga?
Yoga derives its name from the Sanskrit word “Yuj”, which means union of the individual soul with the universal spirit. Many people think that yoga is nothing more than a form of physical exercise that involves twisting, stretching, turning and breathing in complex ways.
And while it is an excellent way to improve flexibility and strength, yoga is much more than physical exercises. Yoga unfolds the infinite potential of the human mind and soul through different asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques) and by focusing on specific body parts.
No one is too young or old to avail of the benefits of yoga, as its primary goal is to provide moksha (liberation). Anyone can do yoga as it is a practice varied enough to suit individual needs.
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Different types of yoga
From athletes to adults, children to seniors, anyone can do yoga. It can be adapted to suit any level of fitness.
There are various types of yoga to choose from. That includes:
- Hatha Yoga: This type of yoga is an easy-to-learn, basic form. It is the foundation of all yoga styles incorporating asanas (postures), meditation (dharana & dhyana), and pranayama (regulated breathing). Hatha Yoga is very popular in America as it is considered a great way to both exercise and relieve stress.
- Ananda Yoga: This type of yoga focuses on postures designed to move energy up to the brain and prepare the body for meditation. It also focuses on body alignment and controlled breathing.
- Ashtanga or Astanga Yoga: This is a physically demanding type of yoga as it involves synchronizing your breathing to a progressive and continuous series of postures. This type of yoga helps improve circulation, flexibility, stamina and it also calms the mind.
- BikramYoga: This form allows for a comprehensive workout, and covers all the components of a Western fitness plan including muscular endurance and strength, cardiovascular flexibility and weight loss.
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Different poses of yoga
It is not imperative that you perform intense yoga to get the utmost benefits. Even basic exercises can give you results. Here are some yoga poses for beginners:
- Mountain pose: To perform this type of yoga pose, you just need to stand tall with your feet together, shoulders relaxed and arms by your sides. Now, take a deep breath and raise your hands over your head. Your palms should be facing, and keep your arms straight.
- Downward-facing dog: Get down on all fours in a doggy position. Now, raise your knees away from the floor and lift your butt up towards the ceiling. Gently push your heels toward the floor and hold the position for about 5 to 10 breaths.
- Chair pose: This yoga pose helps in reducing weight. You need to stand straight by stretching your hands up in the air. Now, bend your knees and keep your thighs parallel to the floor as you simulate sitting on a chair. Stay in this position for about 30 seconds and release.
Various benefits of yoga
Doing Yoga is an excellent way to stay healthy as it builds strength, awareness and harmony between body and mind. The benefits of yoga are enormous, and can be easily availed by incorporating the practice into your daily life.
Here are some of the benefits of yoga:
- Flexibility:Yoga builds flexibility as it involves stretching of muscles. It also helps you become more agile, and leaves you feeling less stiff or tired. You will start noticing benefits like 35% improved flexibility after eight weeks of practice.
- Improves your posture: Yoga enhances your carriage as it involves standing and sitting poses that help develop core strength.
- Keeps you calm: After a yoga session, you may feel stress-free and relaxed because the breathing techniques practiced help keep you calm.
- Good for your heart: Another benefit of yoga is that it is good for the heart. Yoga helps lower blood pressure and slows the heart rate, which is why it is recommended for those with high blood pressure or heart disease, or those who’ve suffered a stroke. In addition, yoga is also known to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and improve functioning of the immune system.
Yoga isn’t an expensive practice. You can do it on your own without spending a hefty amount on trainers and gym instructors. All you need is a yoga mat and YouTube, where you will find every desired pose to get into shape.