Everything you need to know about yoga
Yoga originated from India nearly 5000 years ago and since then many countries have embraced its spiritual nature.
Updated: Thursday 15 April 2021
The Origin of Yoga
The word ‘yoga’ originates from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means ‘union’ and is a series of breathing techniques, meditation and movement of the body to focus on strength building, flexibility to boost health and relaxation. Yoga originated from India nearly 5000 years ago and since then many countries have embraced the spiritual nature of yoga and today is recognised as one of the most valued ways of fitness training.
Yoga is broken down into a variation of postures which are guided your breath. Focusing on core strength and improving balance, each form of yoga focuses on different postures and breathing techniques to build core strength and improves balance.
Different forms of Yoga
- Ashtanga – Fast flowing form of yoga, focusing on matching your breathing to the sequence of poses (also known as vinyasa based). There are six different Ashtanga yoga sequences to practice, where practitioners are encouraged to memorise the series of postures and go at their own pace working through the sequences and the master helps to adjust and support the positions.
- Bikram – Also known as ‘hot yoga’, this incorporates 26 different postures in a heated room with intentions of making you sweat profusely. Hot yoga aims to make you heated inside and outside of your body.
- Jivamukti – A form originated in New York, this form of yoga utilises the ashtanga style yoga with chanting, readings and meditation.
- Iyengar – This is a much slower practice than the Ashtanga which focus on the delicacies of each pose, by accentuating stillness in order to improve the imbalance of the body and promote alignment. This form usually utilises props such as straps or blocks to aid the practitioner to perform the postures.
- Kundalini – These postures are a repeated set of movements which are synchronised with your breath. Using a variation of different breathing techniques, chanting and meditation, this form moves the energy throughout your body by evoking awareness of your surroundings.
- Kripalu – Also known as ‘gentle yoga’. Along with focusing on breathing and meditation, Kripalu yoga goes further to place focus on your mind, body and spirit. This form usually extends in the individuals lives as a source of spirituality. By promoting spiritual healing, it enhances your consciousness which energises your mind and body improving your blood flow.
Benefits of Yoga
- Improves flexibility
Practicing yoga regularly will improve your flexibility over time by loosening your muscles by creating a deep connection to your muscle tissue, causing you to stretch and relax easier.
Yoga teaches you the art of concentration and helps to lower cortisol levels (stress hormone), hence improving your mental health and quality of life.
- Sleep better
There are certain postures which you can do before bed to help relieve you from stress and help you fall asleep better. By increasing your core strength and mobility with the variation of breathing techniques, yoga will ease your mind and body and aid with any physical pain helping you get a good sleep.
- Helps you to focus
Regular yoga practice can help you focus in your day to day life by helping you solve problems better and your mind is less distracted hence improving your memory, reaction time and coordination.
- Increase self-confidence
By making you more connected with your mind and body, yoga helps to make you more in touch with your physical being making you feel more comfortable in your own body and self-confident.
- Increase bone strength
The different yoga postures usually require you to lift your own weight and hold the poses and by doing this you are increasing the strength within your whole body and retaining calcium. Yoga is the ideal exercise to prevent osteoporosis.
How to incorporate Yoga in your everyday life
There are many ways where you can extend your practice beyond the mat and can incorporate it into your daily lives. Here are just 3 simple ways:
- Practice anywhere
Whether you are sitting in your office chair or watching TV, you can incorporate the different stretches and poses to improve circulation and reduces any aches and pains in your body.
Allocate a small part of your day, whether it’s when you first wake up, or before you go to bed to meditate. Being silent for a few minutes away from distractions and focusing on breath and surroundings will help relieve your stress and improve your immune functionality.
- Be gracious and grateful
Yoga challenges your mind to think more positively and focuses your mind to reduce stress. By taking some time out of your day to think about what you are grateful for, focusing on more positive aspects of your life will help you to focus better, calm down and relax.