Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock (igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic) then you will have heard of yoga. In case you are unaware, yoga is an ancient practice dating back 5,000 years that aims to align the spirit, mind, and body in perfect synchronicity and harmony using various breathing techniques, philosophies and physical exercises through pose transitions, and comes in many varieties.
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The practice was made famous in America with the introduction of Bikram, now called Hot yoga (best not go into that one) that soccer moms and Wall Street traders alike took part in. Fast forward a few years and yoga is everywhere with all varieties available. Classic yoga is known as Hatha, but there are various types that have been designed for a more intense workout such as Ashtanga and Power yoga, but yoga offers more than just exercise.
Regular practice of yoga not only works your muscles but the pose transitions involved also seek to improve the flexibility of your body. Flexibility such as this is essential at alleviating or preventing many common complaints such as decreased circulation, muscle-related injury and poor posture, with additional benefits for female sexual health.
The very nature of yoga itself means that flexibility will be increased no matter what type of yoga discipline you practice but for most, Hatha yoga would be the best option if you are either physically unfit or have never tried yoga before as the intensity of Hatha isn’t as extreme as some disciplines and the poses are relatively easy to perform.
One of the main reasons for the creation of yoga was to focus the mind, and while the poses and transitions themselves, as you perform them, can help with this, the meditation aspect of yoga will be of the greatest benefit for centering your mind. Not all disciplines of yoga incorporate the meditative aspect, such as Power yoga, for example, but many of the main derivatives do.
Usually done after a session, yoga meditation is extremely easy to perform and all it requires is that you sit comfortably, close your eyes and make no conscious effort to breathe while focusing your attention on your rhythm and body with each inhale and exhale. Meditating in this way has been found to reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and increase concentration.
One of the biggest buzzwords around for the past couple of years has been “mindfulness” and relates to your overall sense of health and happiness. There are some obvious ways that you can increase your wellbeing such as eating a balanced diet, exercising, and earning enough money to live well, but as the proverb goes, a man cannot live on bread alone.
Essentially, wellbeing refers to a state of health attainable through realising and developing your meta-consciousness. This basically means achieving a higher state of consciousness which can be helped through the stress-reducing exercises and meditations of yoga as well as the study of the philosophical aspects of the practice. Once implemented, you can begin to organize your life as you see fit as you consciously identify changes that need to be made and act accordingly.