15 June 2018: Whether you are new to yoga and wondering what its all about or have done yoga for years and need a reminder here are 7 REASONS TO LOVE YOGA!
- Yoga is good for your body. Yoga asana (postures) and vinyasa (posture sequences) work the whole body, so nothing gets left out, even those muscles you didn’t know you had!
- There is a yoga style for everyone, whether you seek a gentle stretch or a power workout. (see last weeks post for more info about styles of yoga)
- Yoga is good for your mind. By drawing our attention to the breath and directions about which hand is going where etc, yoga brings us into the present moment to quiet that string of inner dialogue (you know, the ‘to-do’ lists, the ‘what am I having for dinner?’ questions, the ‘are these leggings flattering’ talk). There’s just INHALE, EXHALE, HOLD THAT POSTURE, REPEAT.
- Sweet sweet Savansana: that time at the end of every class where you can relax and let go.
- Yoga is good for your emotions. You should feel better after a yoga class, maybe sore, but better, a little more calm, a little freer, a little stronger.
- The more you learn with yoga, the more there is to learn. A new posture to work on, a different feeling you find during your practice, a new technique to try, a new style to experiment with..there’s always something fresh and exciting.
- Yoga is good for your spirit. At a class, you find a community of wonderful people. During savasana, you may find your awareness of the world around you and inside you opens up. On the mat, you find you can do more than you thought you could and accept the limit of where you are.
Those are just a few reasons I love yoga. What about you?? I’d love to hear from you.
4 June 2018: A question I am asked frequently is ‘What are the differences between all these types of yoga?’ Good question! There are a lot of varieties of yoga, which gives students a lot of choice to find a class that is right, but it can be confusing too.
All of today’s yoga traditions are rooted in ancient India (although the yogis of old would certainly look at our leggings and mats and think ‘WHAT?!’) but as far as what is on offer in the 21st-century, here’s a quick summary:
I practice and teach Hatha yoga. Hatha comes from two words in Sanskrit (the ancient language of India), ‘Ha’ meaning Sun and ‘Tha’ meaning Moon. So Hatha is about balance, between effort and rest, and between body, mind, emotions, and spirit/consciousness (whichever word you like better). Hatha is great for beginners because its a ‘slow and steady wins the race’ pace of a class, but it also doesn’t get old – tens years later, I’m still hooked!
When yoga started to become popular in the West in the 20th-century there were two main teachers who began influential branches of yoga: BKS Iyengar & K Pattabhi Jois. Iyengar yoga, is a yoga of ailment where you’ll be aiming for the ideal form of a pose. That means holding poses longer and doing lots of little adjustments to reach that perfect position, usually using props along the way. This is great for people who like to get things ‘right’, but, depending on the teacher, does not always address the fundamental differences in our anatomy. From Jois came Ashtanga yoga, an aerobic practice that is physically challenging and beautifully sequenced. This great for people who enjoy movement and rhythm, but can sometimes be too much for a beginner without a current exercise regime.
In the past few years, there has been a growing interest in hot yoga, particularly Bikram yoga, created by Bikram Choudhury. In a Bikram class, the room is heated to 35-42 degrees Celsius and you’ll be directed through the same series of poses every class, no matter the teacher or location. Great for those who love the heat, the ‘detoxifying’ of sweating, and like the reliability of a practice, but it can be too intense for some. (I must admit, I have never been to a Bikram class because I love hydrating and struggle to function, let along yoga, in the heat!)
All of these yogas are ‘yang’ style disciplines, which means you’ll be focusing on working your muscles, but classes that are ‘yin’ means holding particular poses for 3-5minutes in a way that encourages joint health. Yin yoga also brings in ideas from Asian philosophy of acceptance, allowing, and the feminine aspects of ourselves and is growing in popularity.
These are only a few forms of yoga, there is also Kundalini Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Restorative Yoga, and the list goes on and on AND every teacher will apply their discipline differently.
Final Top Tips: 1) Never be afraid to give a class a couple of tries, sometimes it takes awhile to see if you like it and get used to the format and the teacher. 2) Never be afraid to ask your teacher questions before or after a class – in my experience, it is usually welcomed. 3) Whatever class you try, always work within your own practice! If you don’t feel comfortable ‘going there’ with a pose, don’t go there. Let’s face it, you are paying to be there, so your mat, your rules. 4) Have fun with it! Trying different styles of yoga is really interesting and is even better with friends, so go out and yoga!!!