Yoga is an amalgamation of physical, mental and spiritual practices, that bring about a sense of physical and mental fitness and awareness to the person practicing them.
Yoga is known to have originated from India, right from pre-Vedic times, and it is known to have been practiced by renowned kings, scholars, ascetics,and saints. As with any system that preaches physical and mental balance, yoga has evolved, and several distinct forms are in practice today.
Different Forms of Yoga
Some of the most popular forms of Yoga are –
- Hatha Yoga – Slow moving flows, which involve holding the poses for a few breaths.
- Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga – It weaves movement and breath together, and it is a dance-like flow that builds stamina and flexibility.
- Iyengar Yoga – Involves the use of props and holding poses for prolonged periods. It focusses on the details of each pose and aims to make the practitioner aware of the body-alignment and anatomy.
- Bikram Yoga – It consists of a fixed set of 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises practiced in a heated room. The set of exercises practiced are always the same and run up to 90 mins.
There are more varied forms that are practiced such as Hot Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and Yin Yang Yoga which ae follow the same set of basic rules but have a different set of goals.
Benefits of Yoga:
Whatever is the form of Yoga that is practiced, there are numerous benefits that can be derived from practicing it.
- Yoga is an excellent exercise that can work and massage every part of the body from the head to the toe, including internal organs.
- Helps to build and tone muscles.
- Helps build flexibility and improve range of motion.
- Very effective against common ailments like PCOD, thyroid problems, hypertension etc.
- Mild enough to be practiced by children, elderly and pregnant women, making it a very versatile form of exercise.
- Helps in correcting and improving posture. There are poses designed to pull back shoulders and open the chest, thus relieving people from a hunched look.
- Helps correct issues with cartilage and joints by working them, circulating the fluid that lubricates the joints and provides nutrients to the cartilage to perform its function better.
- Strengthen sand lengthens and corrects the alignment of the spine, resulting in a stronger back and relieves backache.
- Since Yoga is a body-weight bearing exercise, it improves the bone health, by strengthening the skeletal system while holding poses. Poise and balance, which is important while performing yoga works on the limbs from bones to muscles and strengthens the whole system from the inside
- Improves cardiac health – Performing a full set of sequences for an hour at a moderate pace sets the heart pumping, improving blood circulation through the body, and improving cardiovascular health.
- Improves your mood, focus and gets you to relax.
An hour-long session of yoga helps you to relax your whole body because of the alternate stretching and squeezing of muscles helps to get the blood and the lymphatic fluids moving through the body and delivering oxygen and nutrients to all the organs.
Breathing is an integral part of yoga, and poses are tightly coupled with the breathing pattern, making it one of the best exercises to help deliver adequate oxygen and subconsciously teach the right way of breathing to people who practice it.
Practicing yoga regularly helps to improve body balance. The concentration required to perform the poses helps to build focus and relaxes the mind by forcing the person who is practicing yoga to stop concentrating outside and focus inwards towards own well-being.
The best part about yoga is that it requires no other equipment, except yourself and it is perfect to be practiced anywhere. You can take it with you on business trips or vacations, a yoga studio or gym, or practice at home itself to gain full benefits.
Beginners often are confused about how and where to start. There are plenty of videos available, which will take you through guided sessions. However, it is recommended that you start by practicing under a trained teacher who can teach the right techniques and correct the poses, at least initially, till you become used to the workout and understand the nuances of each pose.