Yoga is not about trying to force your body into a pretzel like position, it’s about creating a healthy lifestyle.
The postures give you the tools to prepare yourself physically and mentally for your daily life. The practice allows participants of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities to be still in a world often consumed by chaos. Deep breathing and meditation techniques help foster an inner shift from to-do lists, kids and spouse’s needs, financial concerns, relationship struggles to something a little bit bigger than the everyday issues we all face. Yoga helps to relieve stress, unclutter the mind, and promote a sense of wellbeing.
Today, yoga is taking over the health and fitness world. With professional athletes like Andy Murray and Ryan Giggs publicly speaking out about the benefits that yoga has brought them in their chosen sports, more people are taking the plunge and trying out yoga classes. Unlike other forms of ‘training’, the practice of yoga unfolds over time to reveal many layers of physical benefits and personal revelations. More and more people are discovering the many ways that yoga can be used to improve athletic performance by increasing mental concentration, improving flexibility and balance, preventing common injuries and fine tuning skills in their particular sport.
Most yoga classes and practitioners use postures (asanas) to prepare their bodies for meditation practice, much like an athlete would prepare for a sports competition. The posture acts as a vehicle to examine awareness of mind and body. In yoga, perfecting posture for meditation comes not so much by doing but of not doing. We have to put some effort into training the body to be aligned, however after that is accomplished, the next step is to learn to do nothing, and enter a space of stillness. It is an active form of doing nothing, of consciously ceasing to put any effort into the posture. This effort to release any form of effort can be felt internally. This process is the purpose of yoga; focusing on the journey rather than the goal. In its essence, all yoga is designed to unite (yoke) and bring peace and harmony to the body, mind and spirit.
Yoga focuses on balancing strength with flexibility therapeutically, having incredible benefits for the physical body. The postures are designed to strengthen the body from the inside out, so you don’t just look good, you feel good too. Twists squish and improve the digestive system; backbends strengthen and lengthen the front and back muscles of the torso and legs, keeping our central nervous system healthy; forward bends release tight hamstrings while massaging the digestive system and promote a sense of calm and clarity. There is something for everyone whatever the level of fitness.
Through regular yoga practice, all fitness and sports people can benefit. This is especially true when injuries occur from pushing too hard. A regular practice can restore a weakened body and build it back up. Postures, breath work and concentration will rebalance, strengthen and restore fatigued, overworked muscles, joints and ligaments. It will also improve concentration, calm the mind, and create a strong sense of focus. Whatever your reason for attending a yoga class, there is no doubt that a consistent and regular practice will significantly increase your sense of wellbeing.
One of the great benefits of modern Hatha yoga is that you can choose a style that is suitable for you, such as Ashtanga, Hot, Power, Restorative, Vinyasa Flow, Aerial, Acro etc. It’s important for anyone starting a yoga practice to find a suitably qualified yoga teacher you connect with. The possibilities are limitless with a huge variety of options available to suit your goals and needs, so no matter your fitness level, or health history, yoga has a place for you.