Adv. Dip. Nat
Yoga is a form of spiritual and meditative based exercise that originated in India over 5000 years ago. By following a sequence of postures (or “äsanas”), whilst applying careful breathing control, you are able to harmonise the body and the mind, achieving health and relaxation.
Yoga can be used to strengthen and stretch the body, maintaining flexibility and suppleness of muscles.
Yoga can be practised by people of all ages and fitness levels from beginners to elite athletes. This is because there are many different forms of yoga – from strenuous and fast to meditative and calming.
To figure out which style you may enjoy, we have compiled a brief summary of the most popular forms.
This form of yoga gives you a gentle introduction to the basic asanas. This is great for beginners or kids. It is done at a slow pace and blocks or other props are often used to make sure the postures are done correctly. Emphasis is placed on breathing control and meditation so this type of yoga leaves you feeling very relaxed and refreshed.
Iyengar yoga moves on from the basics and starts to see the poses becoming more precise. More props are used with this form of yoga as the focus moves towards body alignment in each asana. Poses are held for longer which can be challenging as body placement needs to be very exact. If you are interested in discovering more about how the body works and enjoy learning about anatomy, movement and form, this is the yoga style for you.
Anusara Yoga is based on the belief that we are innately and intrinsically filled with goodness, and this goodness can be accessed and opened up through the practise of yoga and meditation. Anusara means “flowing with grace” and “following your heart” and it focusses on experiencing bliss and joy through yoga. The practise of this style of yoga provides the body and mind with resilience, happiness and balance, and is suited for those who wish for a type of activity that provides a total body, mind and heart connection.
If you are looking for an entire mind and body workout that makes you sweat and burns hundreds of calories then Bikram may be for you. It consists of a specific set of 26 asanas and two breathing exercises performed over 90 minutes in a room heated to 40 degrees celsius and with 40% humidity, so remember to bring plenty of water! Bikram Yoga is great for improving fitness and flexibility. Practising yoga in the heat also engages your concentration, fortitude and patience to improve mental clarity and reduce stress.
The word Vinyasa means “to place in a special way”.
Vinyasa classes are often choreographed to music, and you move through each of the poses in a dance like fluid way. Those who get bored easily and love intensive exercise will enjoy Vinyasa yoga. No two classes are choreographed to be the same, the poses aren’t held for long and the pace of the class is quick.
There are many more forms of yoga available – almost 800 different styles! At the end of the day though, you need to find a style that you feel comfortable with. Any type of yoga will develop strength, flexibility and balance, so once you find one you love, stick with it. The health benefits are best seen when you can practise yoga regularly. So, grab your yoga mat and your water bottle and enjoy!