Yoga has been around for an incredibly long time and over that period different practitioners have added their own refinements and styles into the basic Yoga discipline. There are so many different styles now it is nearly impossible to count, but they all stem from the same core philosophy and methodology. Unfortunately, the multiple different styles often lead newcomers to the exercise discipline to become very confused as to what they are doing and what they can hope to achieve with Yoga. In this article we answer some of the common questions.
What is Yoga?
This question is the most common from newcomers. Most people have a general idea but they are not sure where Yoga fits into the world. Is it an exercise? Is it a philosophy? Is it a form of physical therapy? Is it a spiritual process? The answer is that to different people Yoga is all of these things. At its core it is a group of exercises and poses which are very low impact and work by strengthening the body and increasing its flexibility through static exercise. This means that each pose will ‘stretch’ a certain area and the body benefits from this stretch by increased blood flow and energy release. Many of the exercises release tension from areas of the body that regular activities do not cater to. Because Yoga is performed slowly and with a strong emphasis on correct breathing patterns there is also a strong mental and spiritual element to the exercise. It is seen as a way of cleansing mind, body and spirit.
Do I Need to Be Religious to Get the Most Out of Yoga?
As mentioned above Yoga is different things to different people. There are many people in the world who perform Yoga purely for its spiritual benefits. There are many others who perform Yoga purely for the physical benefits associated with it. The benefits of yoga you could get depend largely on your openness to new ideas, your mindset and your ability to let yourself fully fall into a meditative state. For some people this is very difficult at first, but that is still not going to prevent them from getting the physical benefits associated with Yoga classes. You will find that even if you do not have any strong spiritual base you will still benefit from an increase in your self-confidence and personal contentment.
Where Can I Do Yoga?
Practically anywhere. Many people practice Yoga in their homes every day. Others will practice Yoga with a group of friends and go to the local park. It’s a good idea to inquire at your local gym about Yoga classes, as many local gyms have Yoga Sessions every day. Even if they aren’t they will be able to tell you where the best place to learn Yoga is. One of the big advantages of a Yoga based exercise regime is that there is no expensive equipment to buy and then store around your house. Some poses are assisted by cushions to support the body, but in general the only thing you need is your body.
I’m Not Very Fit – Is Yoga for Me?
Yes. Very much so. One of the best things about Yoga is that the poses and exercises you will learn can be adjusted to your level. Fitness isn’t usually a problem because the exercises are slow and often static, but your body will become better at performing them over time as your strength and flexibility improves. Knowing your limit and ensuring that you don’t ‘ease up’ out of habit gain the best benefit.
Hopefully you will now have a good understanding of what yoga is and why you should be doing it. Remember that Yoga is something that once learned can be practiced anywhere you like and as often as you like. Indeed, this is one of the key components of Yoga’s popularity.