“What is Yoga? What style of yoga do you teach? What do I need to practice yoga?”
As a Yoga Teacher, I am often asked these questions by potential yoga students.
Given the vast array of yoga classes available it can be quite overwhelming to choose a programme most suited to your individual health and well-being needs and lifestyle.
You may have heard that yoga helps you to relax, calms your mind and releases tension from sore muscles, but how can you be sure if the yoga class advertised at your local Leisure Centre is the right form of exercise for you?
There are many styles and ways of teaching yoga. “Yoga” means different things to different people. I have three teenage daughters, each have their own understanding and definition of yoga ranging from:
– “Yoga is a peaceful way to exercise and, a good way to let your feelings out”
– “Yoga is mum’s job!”
– “Yoga is gentle stretching and balancing exercises”
The following top five tips give you a clear introduction about the practice and teachings of yoga.
Top Five Useful Things You Need to Know About Yoga
One: Yoga is a form of exercise which consists of a programme of stretching exercises,(known as asanas) which gently open and stretch the body, increasing flexibility, suppleness and strength; breathing practices (known as pranayama) designed to cleanse the body and calm the nervous system and emotions; and guided relaxation to release body tension and promote a sense of well-being. Some yoga classes also include meditation and chanting. Meditation helps you to calm and focus your mind and have a sense of inner peace.
Two: The traditional meaning of the word ‘yoga’ originates from Sanskrit yuj meaning to yoke, unite, union, join together. Traditionally speaking, the goal of yoga is to achieve union, connection with the Divine. In more general terms, yoga is seen as a practical way to help you achieve a state of balance, sense of harmony and union into your life
Three: There are four main paths of Yoga practice, which all traditionally serves as a means to help you achieve your potential and unite with your divine nature: Karma Yoga (the path of selfless service and action), Jnana Yoga (the path of intellect, knowledge and wisdom), Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion and love), Raja Yoga (the physical practice of yoga – asanas, breathing, plus spiritual, ethical guidelines, known as the Yoga Sutras or Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga.)
Each path of yoga will appeal to different people depending on your personal temperament and personality.
Four: There are various styles and different approaches to yoga. In essence, asanas, breathing exercises, relaxation and in some cases meditation and chanting form the basis of all yoga styles. All yoga is known as “Hatha Yoga.” However, different schools of yoga place difference emphasis on these aspects. Some yoga teachers, may focus more on breathing techniques (known as pranayama ), whilst another may pay more attention on the alignment of the body in the poses. The most common styles of yoga taught are Iyengar Yoga, Sivananada Yoga, Viniyoga Yoga, Astanga Yoga and Bikram Yoga
Five: The practice of yoga exercises (asanas) is one aspect of yoga. As a way of balanced holistic living, the other elements of yoga consists of paying attention to eating a wholesome, preferably vegetarian diet, proper breathing; proper relaxation; positive thinking and meditation.
The practice of yoga is a personal journey. The holistic nature of the practice and range of tools equips you with a range of useful tools to help you find inner peace, calm and balance within your life.