21 Jun THE WORLD OF YOGA: YOUR 12-POINT BEGINNERS GUIDE
Most people know two things about yoga at least: it’s from India and famous people around the world swear by it. But if you’ve never tried a class and are curious to learn a little more about it, here’s our 12-point beginner’s guide:
1. The word Yoga means ‘unity’, ‘union’ or ‘connection’
It’s really about creating a harmony and balance between body, mind and soul – much more than the “muscle stretches” people often mistake it for.
2. Breathing is everything
Pranayama, the term given to consciously controlling the breath, is really at the heart of all yoga practice.
Breathing is given the attention it deserves as the source of all our prana (life force). Even just a few minutes a day spent breathing correctly can produce major changes in how you feel and your state of mind.
3. It’s old. Really old – over 5,000 years, in fact
Despite only having become popular in the Western world in recent decades, and although it’s true that some newer versions have sprung up over the past years, yoga is one of the oldest practices known.
4. You don’t need to spend an hour at it…
Even just a few minutes of yoga during the day has been proven to have beneficial relaxing effects on both your body and your mind, by releasing built-up tension in the muscles and calming down your poor, overworked brain.
It’s common for yoga classes to finish with the typical “Namaste” gesture, where you place your hands together in the centre of your chest (the heart chakra), close your eyes and bow your head. The term literally means “I bow to you”, but is recognised in its wider significance of “the divine within me honours the divine within you”.
6. Yoga isn’t a really a sport…
…nor, as some people believe, is it a religion.
Yoga is a lifestyle. The “yogic way” has masses of followers and perhaps one of its most attractive characteristics is that anyone and everyone can adopt the yogic philosophy, no matter where you are, what you do or what your physical capabilities are.
7. The term “yogi”
Generally applied to a person following the yogic way of life.
What does that mean? Well, basically a person who practices asanas, pranayama and meditation as well as being kind and compassionate.
8. A lot of yogis follow a vegetarian diet, but it’s not compulsory
What it does encourage you to develop is awareness of what and how you eat, what you put into your body and the effect it has on you.
9. Yoga is said to work very well in cleaning the body’s 8 chakras
Unblock energy paths and to allow positivity to flow throughout you.
There is an almost endless list of health benefits associated with regular practice.
This includes better concentration, increased flexibility, reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease, lower rates of depression and anxiety, improvement in joint health and flexibility, etc.
There’s actually a thing called DOGA, which, yes, you guessed it, is a type of yoga encouraging people to bond better with their pets.
Yoga with dogs. It’s an American invention (are we surprised?) and started in New York in 2002.
12. Schools of Yoga
There are, to date, over 100 different schools of yoga, including Hatha, Iyengar, Bikram, Javamutki and Kundalini.