Yoga has long been practiced in the East as a spiritual and physically redemptive therapy. Whilst yoga comes in many forms, often with wonderful names, ashtanga, vinyasa, kundalini, hatha, raja, the process of discovery needn’t be daunting. Yoga is well established in Western society and celebrated as an easy way to promote health and wellbeing. In this article, we explore the holistic benefits of yoga and show you how or where to start.
Why to practice yoga.
A system of mental and physical training, yoga consists of postures (asana), breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditations (dhyana). Introduced into Western culture from India in the 19th century, it has been adopted by millions as a way of keeping fit, active, healthy, promoting relaxation and reducing stress.
As yoga is a low-impact activity, routines or ‘sequences’ can be accessible to all, which is a great way for those who might not be ready for the exertion from sports, such as cycling or running, to improve strength, balance, flexibility, increase mental focus, reduce anxiety and boost immunity.
It can also be a brilliant complementary activity to more strenuous sports (like running long distances, lol) because of the benefits it brings in terms of flexibility and way to condition the body for a number of pursuits, particularly in terms of core and hip strength. Yoga can also be redemptive, bringing relief by way of stretching, folding, massaging and breathing life into sore muscles and joints, again complementing the rigours of more athletic pursuits.
There are a number of positive health benefits derived from the practice of yoga and the good news is that you don’t have to be a guru to get involved. Yoga is welcoming and inclusive; you need neither be a spiritual swami or confirmed contortionist. Baby yoga, beginner’s yoga, restorative yoga, there is something for everyone at all levels.
How to practice yoga.
Let’s start with home practice, you can quite simply begin with basic asanas and breathing movements from the comfort of your front room. There are a number of very easy to follow sequences to be found in books or online, especially on dedicated yoga channels on YouTube, that you can execute confidently at home and in your own time.
What you may quickly find, is that as you improve and become increasingly absorbed by the physical and mental health benefits of yoga, you may seek further guidance to help you advance your practice. Yoga when taught in a classroom environment or one-to-one is a fully rewarding experience where you can enhance your practice and benefit from the experience of a qualifies yoga teacher. You will be introduced to new postures, taken through more challenging sequences and explore more meditative exercises to focus the mind, channel spiritual guidance and feel enlightened as well as physically restored.