Yoga is the world‘s oldest system of self-development and encompasses mind, body and spirit.
The term ’yoga’ originates from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning yoke, unite, join together as one. Through the practice of yoga, clear steps are followed which help to integrate and harmonize different aspects of ourselves, bringing about balance, health and energy in our mind, body and spirit.
There are various types of yoga which help you beat stress & unwind the traditional way. They all share the same aim, that of connecting & uniting with the divine.
Bikram Yoga: Developed by Yogiraj Bikram Choudhary and taught in 1,200 Bikram Yoga schools in the US, it is called “hot yoga” as the asanas are practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Chowdhary, the heated environment acts as a powerful tool to enhance self-realisation and helps the body tissues to stretch.
Iyengar Yoga: Developed and cultivated by BKS Iyengar over the last 60 years, this form focuses on perfect alignment and precise body movements. This style of yoga uses props such as bands and straps.
Ashtanga Yoga: Commonly called power yoga, it focuses on powerful movements such as push ups and lunges, which require strength and stamina. Ashtanga Yoga is appropriate for people are already athletic and want to add flexibility, balance and concentration to their exercise routines.
Hatha Yoga: Ha denotes the pranic (vital force) governing the physical body, and the tha denotes the chitta (mental) force, thus making Hatha Yoga a catalyst for the two energies that govern our lives. Hatha Yoga harmonises and purifies the body systems and focuses the mind in preparation for advanced yoga.
Bhakti Yoga: This form of yoga relies on devotion and complete faith. The faith is generally in God or the supreme consciousness. The person interested in following this path should have a very strong emotional bond with the object of his faith and meditate till he reaches a state of self-realisation.
Kundalani Yoga: This system of yoga is concerned with the awareness of the six chakras or psychic centers that exist in the body. The basic method of awakening involves deep concentration on these chakras and forcing their arousal.
Sivananda Yoga: This system pioneered by Swami Sivananda teaches the five basic principles of proper relaxation, proper exercise, proper breathing, proper diet and positive thinking with meditation. 12 basic postures, relaxation, breathing, chanting and spiritual teachings are included.
Viniyoga: Its taught in small groups and on a one-to-one basis. It aims to develop a personal approach to yoga and also includes therapeutic, philosophical and spiritual teachings. It was developed by Desikachar is the son of the late, great yoga teacher Krishnamacharya.
Raja Yoga: This is a system of yoga promoted by Sage Patanjali by which one can discover the dormant areas of the mind and consciousness. The process of Raja Yoga is divided into 8 stages: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharna, dhyana and samadhi.
Karma Yoga: This system of yoga relates to daily activities we perform from morning to night. In Karma Yoga there is a certain philosophy to life and action. Its not what you do but how you do it that is significant. It’s a yoga of non-attachment and yet perfection in action.
PHYSICAL BENEFITS OF YOGA:
The benefits of yoga are multi-faceted. It’s a journey of the body, mind and spirit. Through the practice of yoga postures the body becomes fit, toned, supple and agile. Internal organs are gently massaged and bodily processes are well-stimulated.
The mind becomes clear and the nervous system feels soothed through regulated breathing, pranayama. Respiration is markedly improved, generating vitality.
Yoga is also a healing system, so for those who have suffered injury or trauma it is a path to recovery. Bones realign, muscles unlock, physical and emotional tensions are released and new energy begins to flow through our bodies.
As we begin to feel energized with our fitter bodies, this can positively affect our mental and emotional well-being, allowing us to feel at ease and more complete & comfortable with ourselves. This has a knock-on effect within our relationships and the way we deal with life and challenges. We become clearer in our thinking, kinder at heart and cooler-headed.
GOLDEN RULES FOR YOGA:
- Always practice with patience, care and attention.
- Never practice on a full stomach and always allow a minimum of two hours after food before you begin.
- Drink water before and after your practice, but not during, as this will interrupt your flow and cool your internal heat, which is created during yoga to burn off toxins.
- Yoga is always practiced barefoot as this enhances awareness of the feet and a sense of grounding.
- Practice in a place that is clean and warm. Try to keep a clear uncluttered small space for yoga as it will help you focus and stop you from becoming side-tracked.
- Never hold your breath in postures, always focus on breathing smoothly, softly and steadily through your nose.
- Wear soft and comfortable clothing, tight clothing can restrict movements, whilst baggy clothing will keep getting in the way.
- Regular practice is the key to progress and gaining the benefits of yoga.
- To begin with, stay in each posture for 5 breaths, then as you build up stamina and flexibility you may want to stay in the pose for longer.
- Start with postures you feel comfortable with and then gradually progress onto more challenging ones.