Yoga is a practice, it's not about perfection. It is a practice to control the breath and find stillness in the mind. Yoga will help you acquire a greater awareness of yourself, while strengthening and toning your body.
The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root 'yuj', meaning to unite, and refers to the joining of body with mind and mind with soul to achieve health, balance, tranquility and enlightenment. It originated some 5000 years ago in India. Yoga has been proven to enhance flexibility, strength, stamina and concentration. Using a combination of asanas (postures) and breathing techniques, Yoga works to induce deep relaxation and reduce stress, tone the body and organs, increase vitality, improve circulation and energy flow.
The main differences in the various styles of yoga derive from; precise alignment of the body; holding of the asanas; flow of breath between the asanas; breath and movement coordination; or inner awareness and meditation.
This is physically demanding and light on meditation. It's a fast paced series of flowing poses to build strength, flexibility and stamina. It was developed by Indian Yoga master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Using a loud breath known as 'ujyaii' which produces intense internal heat and purifying sweat, it helps detoxify the muscles and organs. The room is usually heated to warm muscles and increase flexibility. This is an advanced practice and I’d say too demanding for beginners.
Nearly all other styles are based on Hatha. In Sanskrit, 'ha' represents the sun and 'tha', the moon - hence the practice is designed to bring the yin and yang, light and dark, masculine and feminine aspects into balance. A class will include slow paced stretching, simple asanas, simple breathing and some seated meditation. Hatha classes provide a good starting point for beginners.
As the name suggests, its hot!! Performed in a heated room using varying Yoga poses. Bikram Yoga is hot Yoga where the class involves performing 26 set asanas. This type of Yoga will help speed up metabolism and improve circulation.
Noted for precise alignment and symmetry of postures, the development of balance and the use of props such as balls, blocks and belts. Developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, and based on his exceptional knowledge of how the body works. Poses are held for longer than usual and from the beginning will develop strength, stamina, concentration, coordination and flexibility. A good style for beginners. Who is B.K.S. Iyengar?
A powerful, enlightening style that incorporates mantras (chanting), meditation, visualisation, breathing and guided relaxation with precise postures. Once a closely guarded secret in India, kundalini yoga was first brought to the West in 1969 and has been known to help with addictions and releasing endorphins in the body. Kundalini will not appeal to everyone.
This form of Yoga aims to relax the muscles, calm the mind and open up the body through slow movements and passive stretching. Props are often used: blocks, bolsters and blankets to support deep relaxation.
A challenging varied style that matches breath to movement. Vinyasa yoga is a dynamic flowing varied practice which is both intense and dance like. In Sanskrit, Vinyasa means "to link movement to breath". Best suited to energetic, physically fit students.
I've studied the teachings of yoga for over 10 years and hold the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training certificate. I'm always a student and I'm currently studying towards my 500-hour Advanced Certification.
My ‘go to’ preferences are Power Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga. Both offer an energetic, dynamic, spiritual practice. You're not just focusing on developing your breath and muscles but also controlling your breathing (Pranayama) and your mind as you move deeper into the asanas. Expect elements of strength, stability, flexibility and expect to leave class lighter, energised and clear.
The key is to find a teacher you relate to, you enjoy their style of teaching and crucially you like their voice!!! Trust me it makes a big difference to the overall experience. Oh and make sure you buy a good quality non slip mat. A good mat makes a world of difference and provides stability and confidence. Most studios provide but I prefer to take my own.
Everyone and every body can benefit from practising yoga. Yoga doesn’t have to be intense to have a significant effect. Take it at your own pace and don’t get frustrated with yourself or if your yogi neighbour is way more flexible than you. Don’t stress. You’re perfect just where you are!!
Yoga is all about understanding the current boundaries of your body, your breath, and your movement. Some days your balance will be great, the next day you can’t stand on one leg, and that’s ok. There’s always tomorrow. The breath will help you through, stay calm and stabilise you. The breath is your crutch and this control remains with you way after the class has finished.
Although most gyms offer some form of yoga class, I generally find more experienced yoga teachers in an actual Yoga studio where Yoga is their thing and their focus. If you can't find a class nearby or perhaps don't have time to commute there and back and commit to a 60-90 mins practice, then i highly recommend Yogaglo. It's a fantastic online Yoga hub with an amazing array of highly skilled teachers. You simply select your level, time, teacher and type of yoga you want to practice and off you go in the comfort of your front room. Its only £12pm. Bargain!
Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. Yoga every damn day! Its the only way...
See you on the mat.