If you have never practiced yoga you may be a bit intimidated by it and have lots of questions. Here are some answers to common questions about yoga.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient health and fitness philosophy designed to help bring your body, mind, and spirit into balance. It’s a true body-mind approach to health and wellness that originated in India more than five thousand years ago.
The branch of yoga most common here in the west is hatha yoga, which focuses on the practice of physical exercise to bring balance, strength, and flexibility to the body and mind.
The fundamental aim of yoga from its onset was to help quiet the mind and create inner stillness-something we need more than ever in these over-scheduled chaotic times.
Is Yoga A Religion?
According to respected Viniyoga Master Teacher, Gary Kraftsow, “Yoga is actually more correctly understood as a science of mind oriented towards understanding the mind/body relationship.”
Yoga can support and complement the faith of all religious traditions. There are Yoga enthusiasts who are practicing Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims.
Why Practice Yoga?
For me the answer is easy. Yoga is the only form of exercise, besides walking, that I have been able to stick with. I’ve now been doing yoga for more than 13 years and still enjoy it. The list of benefits yoga can provide is long and varied. Yoga has help me:
-Cure my back pain and sciatica attributed to herniated disks
-Eat more healthy
-Lose thirty pounds and keep it off
-Normalize borderline high blood pressure
-Alleviate tension headaches
-Feel calm and balanced most of the time
-Be more patient and centered in my life
-Cultivate focus and concentration
-Manage stressful times
-Feel simultaneously relaxed and energized
-Be kinder to myself and others
-Gain strength and flexibility
-Improve body awareness
-Slow down and savor life
-Connect with like-minded people
-Trust my intuition
-Cope with loss
-Develop more confidence
What Is The Best Type Of Yoga For Beginners?
There are many types of yoga being taught today. The type of yoga for beginners that is best for you will depend on many things including:
-Your reason for practicing
-The benefits you seek
-Your current fitness level
-Your existing health concerns
-Your exercise style
Some types of yoga are very detail-oriented and slow, others very physical and/or fast-paced. Some types of yoga are suited to the healthy athlete and others are more amenable to modification for mature adults and/or those with health concerns. Some types of yoga are gentle while others are very vigorous. Some classes and studios stick with tradition – which can mean om’s and chanting, while others take a more western fitness based approach.
Do a little research to learn about the different types of yoga being taught in your area. Remember to check with your doctor or health care provider before starting a yoga practice.
If the first class you attend is not right for you, please don’t give up. Keep searching until you find the style of yoga that is right for you. It may take a bit of effort but the benefits will be worth it.