What is Yoga. For most people Yoga is just some sort of religious exercise. Fortunately the past few years has seen an upsurge in health and well-being, and this has brought this ancient method of exercising into mainstream society. In fact over 11 million Americans regularly practise this as a form of exercise and relaxation. If you wanted to get your body into shape you would probably go to gym and work out. If you wanted to improve your mind you would probably take up meditation. Yoga is a combination of both. A joining of mind and body.
This form of exercise is believed to be the oldest physical exercise practised and dates back to 500 – 1,000 BC. It originates from ancient India and comes from the word 'Sanskrit' which means 'to merger' or 'join'. The purpose is to achieve a balance between mind and body and to achieve self enlightenment. To accomplish this joining of body and mind, Yoga applies movement, posture and breathing. It is not a religion. It is a more about spiritual balance.
Anyone can practise this complete mind and body exercise, do not be put off by some preconceived notion that it is strenuous, hard work, and time consuming. Age, body type, experience and physical ability, it makes no difference, it is for the whole family and is probably the one single exercise that can help you achieve strength, gain endurance, improve balance, feel relaxed and stress free. It is without doubt the complete mind and body exercise.
There are many different forms of Yoga the more well known ones are:
These are all traditional forms. Each of these forms have a different purpose and have their own distinctive qualities, for example, Hatha Yoga is known for its simple and uncomplicated style and is probably the most widely practised of the traditional forms. Some practitioners have found it too slow and have developed a new westernised form. This is known as Ashtanga Yoga but is commonly called Power Yoga because of its leaning towards its fast paced workout methods. It is essentially a combination of aerobics and Yoga.
You do not need any special tools or equipment, a small space and your mat. The best time to practice is first thing in the morning. Your mind is at its calmest, still fresh and rested. Always practise in an place that you feel comfortable with, somewhere relaxing and peaceful. Somewhere that you will not be disturbed, distraction is the last thing you want. End your session with some type of relaxing pose. Many experts believe this relaxing pose is the most beneficial part of the exercise.
Practitioners of Yoga will tell you about the multiple benefits that you will gain from regular practise. Apart from the better known benefits already mentioned, Yoga helps your body physically with anti-ageing, increased flexibility, weight loss, (recommended for getting rid of belly fat) improved digestion, increased energy and relaxes muscles that will reduce pain. Mentally it will help you by increasing self confidence, gives you the ability to focus, reduces stress, and gives a sense of peace and tranquillity within yourself.