Yoga: There’s a Lot More to it Than Just Stretching

Practice of yoga

Over the last several years, yoga has been gaining popularity, and for a good reason. It came from an ancient Indian philosophy more than 5,000 years ago but has evolved into more. Grab your mat, take off your shoes, take a deep breath and let’s go!

A Little Background

Yoga connects your mind and body through a series of poses, movements, breathing and meditation. It can be relaxing and mind centering as you work on strength and flexibility. The practice starts by following certain poses concentrated on certain parts of the body combined with breathing techniques. Additionally, it focuses on the mind as you are directed to be centered, present, relaxed or focused at different times during the practice.

Getting Started with Yoga

You certainly don’t need a fancy yoga studio, although that can be an option. Yoga is also for everyone, regardless of your fitness level or age.

To start, you need a mat or towel and comfortable clothes. Most people practice yoga in bare feet. It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have to be perfect when starting out. Everyone is different and it’s perfectly fine to modify poses to meet your needs. There are certain tools that can make yoga easier, such as a block (used if you can’t quite stretch to reach the floor) or a strap (to help with a stretch).

Finding a place to practice yoga doesn’t have to be difficult. When you are new, you will need some guidance from an instructor. Consider visiting a yoga studio or taking a class at a local community center. For some, this can be intimidating. If you prefer yoga at home, there are many online classes as well. A quick internet search can help you find a perfect match. Many places offer a free trial as you start to get a feel for what works best.

For more tips on getting started, click here and here.

Types of Yoga

There are many types of yoga. Some are more challenging than others. As you search for a class, keep in mind the type you may want to try. If you aren’t sure, try a variety.

  • Vinyasa Yoga: This is “flow yoga” and a great place to start. Vinyasa works on connecting your breath and movement. It is typically slow, mindful and calming.
  • Hatha Yoga: The focus on Hatha Yoga is to balance opposing forces. Many classes are Hatha. This type of practice is more traditional and focuses on poses, breathing and meditation.
  • Hot Yoga: Hot yoga is practiced in a hot and humid room. Bikum is practiced in a room around 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 percent humidity. Practicing in this environment can allow for deeper stretches and postures and can detoxify the body.
  • Power Yoga: Power yoga is typically more active and has a quicker pace. This type of practice strengthens muscles and works on flexibility.

Take the Next Step!

Now the basics are set. Give yoga a shot and see what you think. You’ll be surprised at how you feel! There are so many benefits you can reap. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health lists several. Some of them include stress reduction, improvement of mental health and improvement of sleep and balance, just to name a few. Other benefits include increased flexibility, better sleep and easier breathing.

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