Yoga is an ancient discipline, which emerged over six thousand years ago in India, designed to bring balance and health to one’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development. The meaning of this word already represents the relevance of all these aspects being in harmony. It comes from the Sanskrit root yuj, and means union. Yoga is often described metaphorically as a tree composed of eight aspects, or limbs:
- yama (universal ethics);
- niyama (individual ethics);
- asana (physical postures);
- pranayama (breath control);
- pratyahara (Control of the senses);
- dharana (concentration);
- dyana (Meditation);
- samadhi (bliss).
This is a popular Hindu practice and has become increasingly common in Western society. Nowadays, the frantic pace that the human being has adopted has generated many physical and psychological problems. Not only in adults, but also in children. And it is in this sense that the practice of various types of yoga is important and has spread by contemplating the physical and mental balance. Among its benefits are:
- the balance between body, mind and spiritual part;
- encourages autonomy for the practitioner, as practices argue that you are responsible for your actions, and therefore your happiness depends only on you;
- increased concentration in activities given its broad performance;
- greater emotional balance;
- increased muscle strength and flexibility;
- improvement of the immune system;
- stress and anxiety reduction.
There are many types of yoga and they all benefit a different category of people. When you say you want to do yoga, be aware of what type you are referring to. Only then will you be able to discover the right benefits of all existing types of yoga and opt for the one that meets your needs. So, to take advantage of the benefits of this millennial Hindu tradition, follow the walkthrough below:
Step 1: Find the Right Style
Studios, gyms and recreation centers offer about 800 types of yoga to choose from, says Crews Leigh, spokesman for the American Exercise Council. The type of yoga that is best for you will depend on what your health goals are. The main ones are:
The poses are simple, and the pace is slow. But it is not just about the body as your teacher will also encourage you to focus on breathing, relaxation and meditation (which may involve singing). A study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that women who practice Hatha yoga once or twice a week fight stress faster than those who do not.
- Ashtanga and Power Yoga
Recommendation: Weight Loss
These two styles combine the regular benefits of yoga with a “killer” cardio session. Both focus on shifting one pose to the next without rest for a relevant calorie burn (about 500 per hour). “The practice is to generate heat in your body,” says Mandy Ingber, the yoga instructor behind actress Jennifer Aniston’s ageless body.
In Ashtanga, the more traditional of the two, you will start singing, then follow a sequence of poses (“asanas”) that never changes. In a Power Yoga class, poses vary more and more and there is usually no spiritual aspect.
- Yin Yoga
Named for the calm half of yin-yang, this style requires you to move slowly in poses (most of them sitting or lying down). Then stay there for up to five minutes to allow a longer stretch to just allow yourself to be.
Yin yoga is particularly good at activating the part of your nervous system that helps you recover from pain and stress, says Sara Gottfried, a California doctor, and author of The Cure Hormone. Expect music and close attention to meditative breathing, as well as the spiritual energy centers, known as chakras, are all elements that contribute to the serenity of the practice.
Recommendation: People prone to injury
As with many types of yoga, the poses you will do in an Iyengar class are traditional. The difference is in how these poses are made. Iyengar teachers are trained in biomechanics, so they understand which positions are most likely to cause injury. And practitioners will improve their shape with guidance from mentors, who will show them how to use props to make these injuries less intense. In addition, a break between poses allows you to perfect your position.
Iyengar can even help you recover from an injury. A study in Archives of Internal Medicine found that a similar style of yoga, Viniyoga, did wonders for chronic low back pain in just 12 weeks.
These are the most traditional types of yoga, those that have been around for a long time. Of course, these are just the main branches. There are many other types of yoga that people can practice, developed by new teachers and western influences, as well as Iyengar Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Power Yoga etc. But all these new types have been influenced by traditional types of yoga.
Step 2: Find the Right Class
The truth is that you can find a great instructor and a great class in the basement of a church, and a questionable one in a renowned yoga studio. Just keep in mind that this rule is golden: the teacher must be properly trained with at least a 200 hour certification in a vocational training institution.
If you opt for a gym, the atmosphere is less serene than a specialized studio. In many cases, the benefits of pure yoga are often lost, given the amount of classes and the props attached to the classes.Regarding the timetable, morning classes tend to be smaller (from 10 to 20 people), and after-work classes may be fuller. In this case, there may be additional help from instructors being guided by the main teacher.In the end, what matters is that you are comfortable in class. If you choose a style and it doesn’t suit, try a different one, or another teacher, or both. And once you find the perfect match, stick with it and be regular to get all the benefits in the best way.