What is yoga?
In our busy modern world many people choose to take ‘time out’ to practise yoga, a lifestyle and a philosophy that originated in India several thousand years ago. Modern yoga is primarily a physical exercise practice incorporating breath work and meditation/relaxation. Everyone can practise yoga, regardless of age, gender or physical ability. You just need to find a style and teacher that works for you.
The Sanskrit word yoga is translated as ‘union’. A yoga practice helps to co-ordinate the breath, body and mind to encourage balance, both internally and externally and to promote feelings of ease and mindful awareness. In the West, the most widely taught form of yoga is Hatha Yoga and its many variations. Yoga classes offer students postures and linked movement to stretch, strengthen and ground the body, to develop breath awareness, to relax and sometimes to meditate. Some classes may be low impact while others can be more physically demanding. By making yoga part of your regular routine, you may become aware of subtle positive changes in your approach to life and your general wellbeing.
Yoga offers us a holistic approach to body, mind and spirit, which can provide us with the tools to cope with the challenges of daily life. Yoga can also complement medical science and therapy for specific conditions.
You may be drawn to yoga simply for health and fitness or for relaxation and stress reduction, or be seeking relief for a specific physical condition or chronic pain. You may be an athlete using yoga as an enhancement to your training programme to help with injury avoidance and greater flexibility/stability. You may be looking for pregnancy yoga classes, yoga for menopause, or you might benefit from yoga exercises suitable for the less able-bodied. Whatever your objectives, there are yoga classes that can meet them.
The many benefits of yoga can include:
- Improved posture, movement patterns, flexibility, mobility, strength and balance
- Lowering of blood pressure
- Improved concentration
- Enhanced feeling of well-being
- Better quality sleep
- Reduction of anxiety and depression
- Improved efficiency of lungs and cardio-vascular system
- Relief from chronic pain