Yoga is an extremely popular activity today. Once practiced mainly in the East Yoga has attracted more and more Western practitioners. People are attracted to yoga for its health benefits, especially its capacity to create a relaxed mind and body.
Most people practicing yoga in the west practice Asana yoga. Asana yoga is designed to cultivate the mind and body in a manner that is conducive to long periods of meditation. Physical strength and stamina are key components of Asana yoga.
Hatha yoga is the term used to mean a set of physical exercises. The exercises of hatha yoga are meant to align skin, muscles and bones. In addition, hatha seeks to open the channels of the body so that energy can flow freely.
In many forms of yoga a mantra is used. Om is a mantra that is often chanted at the beginning and end of a yoga session. Ancient yogis used this mantra to indicate the vibrations of the universe.
History of Yoga
Yoga is an ancient practice and has been in existence for millennia. The word yoga comes from the Sanskirt word yuj. Yuj is often interpreted to mean union or a method of practice.
It is believed that an Indian Sage named Patanjali created one of the first comprehensive guides on yogi. The book, called Yoga Sutra, was created approximately 2,000 years ago. This collection still serves as the basis for most forms of yoga practiced today.
The Yoga Sutra outlined the eight limbs of yoga as follows: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption).
There are many branches of yoga. In Raja yoga the focus is on meditation. Karma yoga states that what we experience today is a result of past actions. In Bhakti yoga the focus is on channeling emotions in a positive manner. The various branches of yoga offer something for every taste and style.
The Types of Yoga
Confused by the many types of yoga? With all the different styles and variations, it’s no wonder. Don’t let it get you down.
This article will give an overview of the eight most popular styles of yoga; iyengar, kundalini, bikram, ashtanga, power, hatha, kripalu, and sivanda. Let us shed some light on these and you’ll be a yoga pro in no time!
The three types of yoga you may have heard of are hatha yoga, power yoga and bikram yoga. These are the most popular in this day and age. Hatha yoga is the style of yoga most practiced today. It is what you will think of when you think of yoga in general. Power yoga is a more aerobic-style yoga, with an emphasis on cardio. Bikram yoga is a style of yoga performed in a heated room to accelerate detoxification. These are the types of yoga you will most likely encounter.
In addition to power yoga, there are two other styles of yoga designed for the more aerobic and fitness conscious person. These are iyengar yoga and ashtanga yoga. These are the types of yoga that will give you a strong cardio workout and are fast flowing and precise for those looking more for extreme fitness.
One of the types of yoga that might sound familiar to you is kundalini yoga. The kundalini is considered by many cultures to be the life force within us that can be awakened. This theory is applied to meditation, belly dancing and also yoga. Kundalini yoga concentrates on charkas in the body to generate a spiritual power.
The types of yoga that are more obscure and less heard of today are kripalu yoga and sivanda yoga. Kripalu yoga utilizes practices from many different wisdom traditions. It also includes health sciences, psychology and consciousness. It makes for a much more intensive life improvement plan than just a yoga class. Sivanda yoga is very similar to kripalu yoga in that it focuses on many aspects, including meditation, as part of its basic practice.
Yoga and Aging
There are many theories about the effects of exercise and aging, but according to yoga philosophy, it’s the flexibility of the spine, not the number of years, that determines a person’s age.
How does it work? The theory is that yoga slows down the aging process by giving elasticity to the spine, firming up the skin, removing tension from the body, strengthening the abdominal muscles, eliminating the possibility of a double chin, improving the tone of flabby arm muscles, correcting poor posture and preventing dowager’s hump.
Magic? Nah, just dedication and hard work. Besides making you look younger, yoga can also help you feel younger with heightened mental prowess. Longer life often result from following yogic ways of health maintenance.
Yoga can minimize wrinkles and reduce stress. It may also rejuvenate the skin’s glow by reducing oxidative stress, which breaks down skin’s elasticity. Yoga can also slow weight gain, keeping you fit and trim. Practicing can also help you ease pain as you body recovers more quickly. Yoga has been known to help sleep more comfortably. Levels of the brain’s natural nighttime sedative, melatonin, decrease with age, but an Indian study found that when 15 men, ages 25 to 35, practiced yoga daily for 3 months, their melatonin levels increased.
The practice of yoga provides increased resistance to disease, producing a healthy, strong body with increased immunity against disease. This increased resistance extends from the common cold to serious diseases like cancer.
Yoga can also increase your mental sharpness, helping keep the stress hormone cortisol in line. Elevated amounts may contribute to age-related memory problems. Yoga affects all the important determinants of a long life: the brain, glands, spine and internal organs.
Yoga can increase vitality, rejuvenate the glands, improve vision and hearing and result in a positive mental and emotional state. You will feel more confident and enthusiastic and more creative in your everyday life.
Yoga and Flexibility
Chances are, if you have heard about yoga; you already know just how important flexibility is to the practice of yoga. Not only does it usually improve flexibility as a practitioner of yoga, it can also help to relieve any tension your body might feel due to poor flexibility.
Yoga and it’s ability to aid in flexibility training, is used frequently in conjunction with medical treatment for many diseases. Yoga can even help prevent your body from undergoing any unnecessary pain or discomfort of chronic disorders. Allowing your limbs and joints the flexibility and durability that they need throughout life.
It is thought that flexibility can help to prevent energy blockage. Of which is thought to cause many different mental and physical ailments. For this reason utilizing yoga as a boost to your flexibility is a great idea in anyone’s life.
While you might try to find reasons not to practice yoga for flexibility. Whether you think you simply don’t have the time, or money to get involved.
You can rest assured that there is a yoga class that fits any schedule, any budget, and any level of expertise. Which can help make yoga the perfect fitness regiment for everyone! Not only will you be gaining flexibility through yoga. But you will be getting healthier, happier, and will find that yoga will help you to alleviate any daily stress. Remember, you should never neglect yourself.
If there is pain with any of your joints or limbs; chances are you need to work on your personal flexibility. However, with any new exercise you should talk with your family doctor. They will be able to point you to the right class for your needs.
Much like any other workout program, yoga can be targeted to one or another key goals that you might wish to accomplish. Many yoga teachers may offer one-on-one sessions or multi-student classes specializing in flexibility.
Making it easier than ever to find your body’s limits of flexibility, ease any pain or discomfort you might feel in your joints, and get fit! What are you waiting for? It’s time to find a the perfect yoga flexibility course near you!
Yoga Dos and Don’ts
As with any other workout, yoga does have it’s do’s and don’ts. While you might consider them to be “rules”, they are in place simply to keep you and everyone around you safe!
Yoga is meant to be stress-free and calming. However, if you or everyone around you isn’t practicing a sense of courtesy; you aren’t going to enjoy your session as much as you should.
Some of the most common do’s and don’ts of practicing yoga are:
- Always remove your shoes! While your class might not require you to leave them at the front door, some people will still walk around with their shoes on. The yoga environment should be free of contaminants. Making it important for everyone to leave their shoes at the front door! (Or a designated area).
- Always turn off your cell phones. This isn’t just common courtesy at a movie theater! Everyone around you has paid to learn yoga from your yoga-master. While it might be your first-response to answer your phone in the middle of this relaxing session. It simply isn’t courteous to anyone in your class, or even yourself! If you think there might be an emergency, make sure to give those important to you the phone number to the yoga studio. They will be able to contact you throughout your class without interrupting everyone else.
- Always, always always be on time to your class! Nothing is worse than being interrupted during an asana. If you are running more than ten minutes late, you should re-schedule for a different class if you can.
- Always try to keep your bathroom visits before the class begins. While it might be needed during class, you should try to hit the toilet during a time of rest. Making the least interruption possible.
- Never skip the final relaxation period! While it might be common for some people to just jump right out at the end of their class. The Savasana is important to calm your mind.
- Never eat too much before your yoga session! Try for a light snack or salad before your yoga class.
- Never drink water throughout your yoga class, as it can be distracting. However make sure to hydrate well before and after class.
- Do not wear clothing that’s too loose. Always wear comfortable yoga appropriate clothing.
Thank you for reading about Yoga, Its Types, History of Yoga, Aging and Yoga, Flexibility in Yoga and Dos and Don’ts of Yoga.
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