Yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise around the world. Our favourite celebrities swear by it, glossy magazines rave about it and even our personal trainers at the gym recommend it. But what exactly is it? And should you be doing it? Let’s a take a look…
The Origins of Yoga
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj and refers to a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India.
The ancient practice outlined eight limbs of yoga: restraints, observances, postures, breathing, withdrawal of senses, concentration, meditation and absorption. These eight limbs serve as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practised today.
As yoga became more of a mainstream practice, people began to focus on the third limb, which is a set of physical postures designed to provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation.
What Makes Yoga Different From Regular Stretching?
Although a lot of focus is placed on physical postures when practising yoga, it is a lot more than being able to hold a cool-looking pose. Yoga uses the movement of the body to calm the mind and regulate the rhythm of our breathing.
By connecting the mind, body and breathing we are able to direct our attention inward. This helps us to become more aware of our experiences in each moment. This increased awareness is what makes yoga a unique practice rather than a basic stretching routine.
Can I Do Yoga If I’m Not Flexible?
A common misconception is that you need to have an existing level of flexibility to practise yoga. This is not true. Think of it this way: you don’t need to be an expert piano player to take piano lessons. To start doing yoga, just sign up for a course and learn as you go. In time you will become more flexible, more coordinated, and stronger. You will also have a sense of physical confidence and well-being.
Does Yoga Require Any Special Gear or Equipment?
Yoga is a simple practice that doesn’t ask for much. All you need is your body and mind. If you’re just starting make sure your clothes are comfy (like leggings, a shirt that’s not too baggy). A non-slip yoga mat is the only real piece of equipment you need.
The Benefits Of Yoga
Yoga is a very effective low-impact workout. So it’s not surprising that it has loads of amazing physical benefits. These include the following:
- Increased flexibility over time
- Helps to improve muscle strength and tone
- Better breathing, energy and vitality
- It helps you maintain a balanced metabolism
- Yoga can help you lose weight
- Improved cardio and circulatory health
- Helps to improve your athletic performance
- Increased flexibility helps to protect you from injury
Besides the physical benefits, yoga can also help you to manage stress. The meditation and breathing techniques incorporated in yoga can be very effective in helping you cope with life’s daily stressors and have a more positive outlook.
How Often Should I Be Doing Yoga?
Yoga doesn’t have a strict rule book. Even if you only practise for a few hours a week you will experience the benefits. A good place to start is an hour, three times a week. This will give your body time to adjust and rest between sessions. But don’t let unrealistic goals and schedules be a deterrent. If you can only manage 30-minute sessions, that’s okay. Once you get more accustomed to the practice your stamina will increase.
There’s no doubt that practising yoga gives you an amazing overall workout. But it’s important to remember that its benefits extend to the mind and spirit as well. This mental and spiritual tranquillity is achieved by means of yoga poses and meditation. If you’re passionate about the practice you can get your Yoga Certification at Trifocus Fitness Academy and help others reap all the incredible benefits too. For more information follow this link. To learn more about our other online fitness courses, please visit our website.