Yoga increases to be the common fitness of choice for men and women meeting their daily fitness requirement. With studios, classes and online teachings Yoga has definitely become mainstream and a sought after form of exercise. Yoga is a spiritual practice that began in India over 5000 years ago. The word Yoga means “union” in Sanskrit and many yoga traditions believe that the practice of Yoga leads a person to connect more to themselves, God or the Universe.
There are many health and wellness benefits. Research has demonstrated that a few of these benefits are increasing strength, flexibility, balance, lung function and weight loss to name a few. However the stress reduction benefits are definitely at the top of the list with relaxation, improves mood, mind body connection and the lowering of stress hormones such as cortisol. Yoga uses breathing, stretching and strengthening poses. Each yoga asana (pose) has a distinct name and includes standing postures, seated twists, backbends, inversions and core exercises. A knowledgeable yoga instructor is a valuable teacher and coach in learning yoga practice. However, with hundreds of variations and hybrids it can often be overwhelming when deciding on a class.
If you are new to yoga Hatha yoga would be an excellent choice as it is all about the basics. This slower moving class requires holding each pose for several breaths and is a great introduction. A more challenging form would be Ashtanga, which consists of 6 series of sequenced poses, starting with Sun salutations and moving from standing position to the floor. Then lets not forget the ever-popular Bikram yoga, which takes place in a room heated to 105 degrees and 40% humidity. This 90-minute class consists of 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises but remember this class can feel more intense with the heat so your water bottle is a must.
These are just a few of the practices, however, learning to connect with what you need and being mindful of what works are essential for any type of yoga class. The most important thing is to move your body everyday in some capacity, be it yoga, weights, running or even dancing. Exercise comes in many forms so remember to always honour who and where you are in your fitness journey.