Discovered in India a couple of millennia ago, yoga is the miracle solution that we are all seeking. However, yoga is also the most underutilized discourse in our daily lives.
Yoga makes us feel better. Often, that is enough of an incentive. But, for the sceptic in you, there is more to it than meets the eye.
Yoga - A Way of Life
Most people look at yoga as a form of stressbusting exercise, improving health and physical fitness. However, for most of its practitioners, yoga becomes a way of life, a practice that is at once spiritual, motivational as well as beneficial to the heart and mind.
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The health benefits of yoga are very real. A published study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology establishes beyond doubt how useful yoga can be in reducing the risk of heart disease.
Practising yoga asanas is a scientifically proven way to lose weight, build muscle strength, relieve stress and fight anxiety and even improve one's immunity.
In today's increasingly fast-paced world where people are always rushing from this moment to the next without pause, yoga helps to connect us to who we really are deep within.
Yogic meditation achieves what innumerable self-help books or personality development classes never can. Its ability to help us focus on what is already inside us instead of looking for answers outside of our being, yoga can be cathartic.
Choosing the Right Yoga Course for Your Needs
Your yoga teacher might tell you to try different forms of yoga, gradually. However, when you are starting out and don't have the slightest clue about the different forms of yoga (and there are quite a few of them), it can be really frustrating if your choice does not give you the satisfaction you seek!
It is best to do some research on the various forms of yoga and try to decide which one best resonates with your personality needs.
Here is a crash course intended to get you started on your journey!
Ideal for beginners as well as advanced practitioners, this form of yoga comes highly recommended by yoga teachers.
Hatha yoga helps you develop a deep understanding of the different yogic postures, without rushing you. What's more, it lets you have a great stretch to help relax those tired muscles.
Restorative yoga makes use of therapeutic tools such as blocks, straps, sandbags, bolsters, and blankets in order to facilitate the release of the innate tension from your mind and body. This yoga works passively without requiring you to actively stretch.
Restorative yoga is ideal for beginners as well as those who are physically restricted (for example, practitioners with injuries or those who suffer from chronic pain).
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Yin yoga focuses on strengthening your connective tissues (particularly the fascia). Poses last 3-5 minutes each to work on making your tissues stronger and more flexible.
This practice is also used for improving joint mobility in your bones as well as for releasing trauma from the body.
This slow meditative practice is quite friendly for beginners. But, mind you, it will test your patience as it demands stillness in posture!
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A combination of Bhakti and Rajyoga, Kundalini yoga has undeniable therapeutic value.
Kundalini yoga focuses on meditation and chanting. The word Kundalini means, "a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine." In other words, Kundalini yoga is meant for those who are seeking spiritual awakening. However, these classes can also be physically intense as you chant with your arms held up! It might not, therefore, be ideal for a beginner.
Vinyasa is a philosophy that acknowledges the impermanence of things in nature. The Vinyasa form of yoga is practised in order to develop a more balanced body.
The yogic practice itself is characterized by a succession of seamless postures, commonly referredto as “flow” yoga.
Vinyasa or 'flow' yoga is in complete contrast to fixed forms of yoga such as Bikram Yoga and Ashtanga yoga which have a fixed or repetitive sequence of postures.
If you are looking for precision and improving your attention span, then ask your yoga instructor for Iyengar yoga class near me.
In this form of yoga, postures are gradually and methodically built up for longer durations and with increasing levels of concentration. It is a safe way to build your body strength, increase the flexibility of postures while becoming acutely self-aware.
The therapeutic value of Iyengar yoga has been seen to help individuals with particular mind-body limitations.
For all your purification purposes, practice Ashtanga yoga. Traditionally structured and physically demanding, this form of yoga is designed to test your mental and physical strength and help you come out on top of both.
Ashtanga yoga is not recommended for beginners or for those with bone issues in their bodies.
Bikram yoga is a fixed form of yoga that goes through a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Not only that, the yoga requires specific environmental conditions as well - fixed degrees of temperature and humidity.
This form of yoga is designed to make you sweat and work systematically through every inch of your anatomy, undergoing a natural detoxifying process.
Make the most of your yoga lessons with this guide on what to expect from your first yoga class.
Jivamukti yoga is the living practice of the ancient yogic tradition of India. It is intellectually stimulating, spiritually liberating and physically invigorating.
The practice of this form of yoga involves all that is traditionally associated with any spiritual practice. These include chanting, meditation, deep relaxation and pranayama, along with equal doses of philosophy, poetry, music and affirmations.
Practice Jivamukti yoga to truly understand and practice the ancient yogic wisdom in your daily life.
Kripalu yoga stresses compassion and self-evaluation in order to develop a holistic understanding of life.
This form of yoga incorporates the practice of asana, pranayama, deep relaxation, and meditation in its quest to achieve good health, a relaxed mind and deep self-awareness.
In a Kripalu yoga class, you will most likely be guided by meditative questions such as, “What are you feeling right now?” and “What is your body asking for?”
Choosing Between a Private Yoga Teacher and a Yoga Studio
Now that you have a fair bit of understanding on the different forms of yoga practised in India, indeed the world over, it is time for you to get yourself a yoga guru to guide you on your chosen form.
While many Indians are choosing to go to the neighbourhood yoga centre, there are those who are more comfortable taking private yoga lessons.
The Perks of Being Part of a Yoga Studio
These days, it is not difficult to find a yoga studio or training classes in the general vicinity of where you live in any big Indian city. Whatever be your particular need, connecting with an experienced yoga teacher or a training centre is a great first step towards relaxation.
Yoga lessons in a studio can help you fall in line with a routine for personal relaxation. If you decide to take classes at a yoga centre, you can take advantage of a space set up and decorated to provide the ideal ambience for relaxation.
Learning yoga in a group also has the benefit of putting you in touch with like-minded people.
Private Yoga Lessons
More and more people are opting for a private yoga coach to overcome their shyness and their fear of being judged in a more public space such as the yoga studio.
City dwellers are quite rushed for time. Therefore, squeezing in a weekly/ daily yoga class into their schedule might prove to be a challenge. Enter the private coach and you have yourself a flexible option! Your private yogi is likelier to make himself/ herself available to suit your timings than a yoga class at the studio where flexibility is superseded by considerations of the 'greater good.'
Platforms such as Superprof allow prospective students to consult each tutor’s profile to find the one that best meets their wants and needs.
You can rest assured that your private yoga guru is single-mindedly focussed on your personal progress, instead of having to divide time among multiple students, as is the case in a yoga studio. You can track your improvement and make adjustments accordingly.
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Private yoga lessons can also be financially advantageous. Some of the teachers on Superprof let you try out the first lesson for free, or even get a sort of stamp card for 10 yoga lessons at a better price. You can also opt for online yoga classes via webcam to widen your choice of teachers.
So, what are you waiting for? Look up yoga training courses today and see those stress lines melt away!