For most of us yoga is a means to stay healthy, energetic and in touch with our inner selves. First, we should know a little about the rich history and why it is an important part of many women’s lives.
It originated in India over 5,000 years ago as a physical, mental, and spiritual practice. It focuses on coordinating movements and breathing to create harmony and balance between the body, mind, and spirit.
Carrying many benefits it facilitates stress reduction, physical fitness, and mindfulness, yoga comes in many different forms of practice. As it is defined by the ways in which it motivates your body and mind to move and breathe.
Nowadays practicing with different intentions fulfills a variety of needs. These needs can be exercise, meditation, relaxation or sex. In fact, it can be practiced in many ways to help improve your health, well-being, and quality of your life.
Can be practiced by people of all ages, ethnicities, and sexes. Does not matter if you are a baby, child, or an elderly. You can both enjoy and use it to reduce stress, increase flexibility, and improve your mobility.
In addition to the previous (most common) benefits, it also helps you concentrate more, build up your strength, and gain better control over your body.
Yoga is way more than just some coordination of movements and breathing. It is a very holy practice. Mastering the deep spiritual unification of the self consciousness with the infinite universe is the main sole concept. This is the origin story behind the name that translates to “yoke” in the ancient language of India; Sanskrit, which is translated to “union” in modern English.
Usually practiced with certain goals in mind. These goals may vary from person to person as per their philosophical or theological beliefs. Ultimately these goals are moving towards the same desired outcome. Which are mind stilling, insight gaining, awareness detachment, and spirit liberation.
When practicing we usually are trying to meet our deep needs whether needed by our bodies, minds, or spirits. Also trying to develop the connection between our bodies and souls, and to represent the highest level of unification with both mother nature and the whole universe.
Physically, encompassing a wide range of activities and procedures that have been addressed in yogic literature. Many of these activities are poses that require different levels of balancing and coordination.
The eight limbs of yoga are:
Yama (ethical standards and integrity)
Niyama (self-discipline and spiritual observances)
Asana (physical postures; what many Westerners think when we think yoga)
Pranayama (breath control)
Pratyahara (sensory transcendence)
Samadhi (state of ecstasy)
The difference between Yoga and Pilates
Some might confuse them with each other, the difference between them is so real. Yoga is holistic and spiritual in nature as it puts more emphasis on the spirit or soul aspect, while pilates is purely technical and medical in nature as it is concerned with the anatomical aspects of the body alone.
To further explain the differences between them, yoga mainly focuses on joints, stretching them and increasing their flexibility. On the other hand, pilates mainly focuses on muscles, stretching and relaxing them.
The importance of Yoga
The importance rises from the fact that it helps us improve many aspects in our lives by promoting a pleasant, healthy lifestyle for us. These aspects can be physical, mental, or emotional.
On a mental level, it empowers you by increasing attention, serenity, inner peace, and contentment, resulting in inner and outer self harmony. According to many surveys and studies yoga helped many women manage their daily stress and anxiety.
On a physical level, it improves the lubrication of the body’s joints, ligaments, and tendons. According to medical studies, practicing yoga regularly usually helps detoxify internal organs.
The detoxification process is facilitated by a sequence of events resulting from a combination of deep breathing, stretches and twists that aim at massaging and compressing internal organs. This sequence relieves a wide range of digestive discomforts such as bloating and constipation.
That is why yoga is one of the few kinds of physical activities that may help massaging most of our bodies’ internal organs and glands. Of course, this aids in lowering the chances of many illnesses.
On an emotional level, it helps in clarifying our thoughts, calming our decisions, and reaching a mutual level of emotional understanding with our significant ones. This will most definitely save us from rushing into stupid decisions with anger that usally end up hurting our feeling and emotions.
The importance of breathing
Pranayama, or the art of focusing on your breathing patterns, is an essential part. Pranyama is considered to be more vital than asana, in the eyes of gurus. Prana is the life force or breath that keeps the body alive, and ayama indicates “to expand or draw out.” The two together refers to breath extension or control.
There are many various types of pranayama techniques, with Ujjayi being one of the most popular. You must perform Ujjayi correctly in order to reap the maximum benefits. Ujjayi is achieved by gradually restricting the opening of the neck to create some resistance to the passage of air, and it should be both invigorating and soothing. A relaxing sound is produced by an effective Ujjayi breath.
Where to start?
Movies and media have created a false picture in our minds. This picture may let us think that it is all about physical poses, while in fact the entirety of itself includes a wide range of self-disciplinary activities and practices, such as meditation, chanting, mantra, prayer, breath work, ritual, and even selfless action.
Jainism gave the name Garuda to yoga. In Jainism yoga is centered on several ideologies, such as self-discipline, discipline of the mind, and body. As the followers of this religion believe, this way the elements can follow your command, the purpose of jain is to free you from any karma you might have, which tethers you to the cycle of reincarnation.
The nearest designations in buddhism for meditation, translated to english, are mental development, and mental training resulting in a calm and luminous mind which is a state of mind in buddhism that refer to being high or stoned.
Buddhist beliefs seek to attain freedom from emotions that cloud your judgment, such as jealousy and anger. All of this is in the pursuit of attaining Nirvana or inner peace.
Classical yoga, also known as yoga of kings, originally indicates the ultimate goal. The philosophy of classical yoga came to be regarded as a distinct orthodox school. As it incorporates systematic exercises and self-development for body, mind and spirit. Usually, it includes all eight limbs of yoga reported above in the intro.
Yoga tantra visualizes deities in a complex way, making use of geometric shapes, and detailed drawings, mainly female deities. Using sexual techniques, mantras, and chakras focusing on improving your overall wellness and intimacy experience.
The meaning of “hatha” in Sanskrit is “force”, thus this methodology of yoga has a system centered on physical practices. This practice was first described in texts, around the 11th century, and is aimed at freeing yourself and gaining greater power such as levitation.
Then in the 20th century, hatha became popular worldwide as a form of exercise by focusing on asanas and is recognized nowadays as “yoga”. Numerous texts on this agree that practicing it leads the way to prosperity.
Laya is a style that focuses on the breath. It was founded by the teacher Tina Long in 2004. Laya is often described as flowing, mindful yoga. The practice involves moving slowly and breathing deeply, with the aim of achieving a state of calm and relaxation.
The word “kundalini” refers to the energy of the cosmos, which lies sleeping at the base of the human spine. When awakened, kundalini energy moves up through the chakras, or spiritual energy centers, to mingle with the energy of the universe.
This divine energy is believed to be the source of all life, and is sometimes referred to as the “serpent power”. Through a process of meditation and controlled breathing, a kundalini yogi attempts to awaken the kundalini energy residing in the chakras, which he uses for spiritual awakening and enlightenment.
Styles of yoga therapy
Surprisingly after all these years and dense history, yoga therapy is yet a developing field using specific poses to ease any discomfort you are experiencing. Especially if you are suffering from a health condition.
Depending on your condition, if you are suffering from any, a personalized plan will be designed for you by a therapist. This will include breathing patterns, postures and adjustments if necessary, meditation, and implementing yogic principles such as self-love and appreciation.
Ashtanga yoga is a system that was developed by the Indian yogi and philosopher Patanjali centuries ago. It is a dynamic style that is designed to help the body and mind become stronger, more flexible and more energized.
It is a challenging style that can be modified to suit all levels. Ashtanga is a style of yoga that focuses on the breath and uses a variety of poses, also known as asanas, to increase strength and flexibility.
Similar to sun salutations, the poses performed in hot yoga are very close but the major difference is that the room is heated between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity. 40-60%.
The postures in hot yoga are a form of meditation in the sense that a sequence of asanas are executed. One said embodiment of hot yoga is Bikram and was shown to better your balance. Compared to the other forms, it is rather fierce.
Iyengar differs from other styles in three main ways. Precision, sequence and timing, and since this style focuses on the alignment of your body it is beneficial for all the asanas. Now props are recommended if you feel that your body is uncomfortable in the position, so that no injuries are suffered.
The jivamukti name is an alteration of jivanmuktith. This name is of sanskrit origins, where the ultimate goal of this style is the freeing of your soul and peace of mind. It combines flow based style and the use of yoga as a tool for exerting your body. Along with this is a devotion to five central beliefs.
The way in which power yoga is defined is unique to where you do it, however there is one common goal shared and that is building up your physical strength. Through utilizing physically demanding postures, it ends up being a cardiovascular workout session concentrating on your flexibility and strength accumulation.
We know from the name that this is a style of yoga adjusted with the intent of focusing on whatever needs a pregnant woman may have. It is not a normal session with some adjustments to be low impact enough for pregnancy.
Through research it was found prenatal yoga has numerous positive results for pregnant women and even the baby. It is very safe to practice and has a positive impact on stress, anxiety, and mood.
Restorative yoga has many benefits on mental health, some of which are mood improvement, enhanced relaxation, and reduced musculoskeletal pain. This style focuses on deep breaths, maintaining long holds over a pose and going through it at a slow pace.
Even though restorative yoga is similar to Yin in that they both relieve stress and have a slow pace, they are quite unique from each other. Restorative yoga allows your body to relax and recuperate, while Yin maintains focus on stretching as well as putting some light stress placed on your joints and the connecting tissue.
Tantra is a spiritual practice that uses the body as a vehicle for exploring the deeper dimensions of consciousness. The mind-body connection is a fundamental part of tantra, which means that every action the yogi takes is an opportunity to practice mindfulness and aliveness.
Tantric practices can help you connect with your body in new ways, heighten your experiences of pleasure, and cultivate the ability to be present in the moment. Tantric is a particular style that emphasizes the erotic as a path to enlightenment.
Vinyasa is defined as the flow of postures and shifting as seamlessly as possible; it is sometimes confused with Power yoga. No two vinyasa classes are exactly the same, as there are a plethora of positions to add into a flow.
That is why it is practically perfect for newbies in yoga and for example ashtanga and bikram are a bit too intense.
Yin takes a more leisurely pace and concentrates your mind inwards and gets you in tune with your body. In Yin, you spend an extended time in each position. With more experienced Yin practitioners, one can stay up to five minutes in a single pose.
It can be fairly challenging for new practitioners as it merges mental concentration with physical strain, making it harder than other forms.
Beginners can incorporate rocket yoga into their session, as you can implement your own changes and interpretation to find a simpler way to execute. You are not required to rigidly stick to it. That is why Rocket yoga is considered dynamic.
You also have the option of skipping it, if you find things too complex for you at the time. The arrangement is like Ashtanga, made up, for instance, of Surya Namaskar, seated, and standing positions. It is divided into three classifications: I, II, and III.
This style takes inspiration from several sources, cheerleading, dance acrobatics, and circ acro. Hence, Acro yoga consists of partner/group stunts where you or one of the other participants are lifted. However, since it is more rigorous there is a higher risk of injuries. When executing, there are three major roles: the base, the flyer, and the spotter.
Now in aerial yoga you perform the same poses you would on a mat, but you get the help of a silken hammock attached to the ceiling. Even if you are a beginner, you can start practicing aerial yoga but in a studio of course. You can challenge yourself effectively. You can also boost your flexibility and physical strength safely. Since the hammock gives you the ability to practice poses you normally would find too hard to do with the pressure that will be exerted on your various joints.
The bottom line
It makes no difference how old you are or how bad your health is. It is a safe exercise that can provide various health benefits to those who practice it and is unique in that it may be performed by everyone.
Yoga improves your physical coordination as well as your posture. It aids in the stimulation of the circulatory and digestive systems, and even the neurological and endocrine systems.
It is a fantastic way to feel alive, more rejuvenated, and so much more energized. Anyone who practices daily, can see a long-term improvement in their lifestyle.