Always been curious about yoga? Well, it is not hard to get started. Yoga, which has been practiced for thousands of years, is actually a spiritual practice. But it has many health benefits. Research has shown that yoga can help you manage stress, alleviate the pain from arthritis, lower blood pressure, improve muscle tone, flexibility, strength and stamina as well as help with depression, and headaches, among other things.
One of the best ways to start is to find a class. Look for a class in the type of yoga you are interested in taking. There are various forms, such as:
• Hatha Yoga. Often called forceful yoga, this style is physically demanding. In addition to poses, Hatha Yoga also includes spiritual practices such as meditation. This form of yoga is considered by serious practitioners as a pathway to get closer to God.
• Vinyasa. Vinyasa means breath-synchronized movement. These types of classes tend to be more vigorous and are based on the performance of a series of poses called Sun Salutations. In these poses the movement is matched to the breath.
• Ashtanga and Power Yoga. Ashtanga is fast-paced and intense style. Ashtanga is very physically demanding because there is constant movement from one pose to the next. Ashtanga inspired another high-energy style called Power Yoga.
• Iyengar. This style is based on the teachings of the yogi B.K.S. Iyengar. Here the concentration is on bodily alignment. In these classes, you will hold poses over long periods instead of moving quickly from one pose to the next.
• Kundalini. Kundalini stresses breathing in conjunction with physical movement.
• Bikram or Hot Yoga. This style was developed by multi-millionaire, Indian yoga guru Bikram Choudhury. It is often called “hot yoga” because it is practiced in a 95 to 100 degree room.
• Anusara. Created in 1997 by John Friend, Anusara combines physical alignment with a positive philosophy derived from Tantra (holistic approach to the study of the universal from the point of view of the individual). Its philosophy is that there is goodness in all beings and classes are usually light-hearted and accessible to students of differing abilities.
• Jivamukti. Founded in by David Life and Sharon Gannonm, this style takes inspiration from Ashtanga yoga and emphasize chanting, meditation, and spiritual teachings.
• Integral. This style follows the teachings of Sri Swami Sachidananda. After coming to the U.S. in the 1960s he founded many Integral Yoga Institutes as well as the famed yogaville Ashram in Virginia. Classes often also include breathing exercises, chanting, and meditation.
• Restorative. Here props are used for support the body so you can hold poses longer.
• Sivananda. The first Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center was founded in 1959 by Swami Vishnu-devananda; there are now nearly 80 locations worldwide.
There are various forms to choose from and depending on where you live, you might even discover more. “I would encourage others to try yoga,” says yoga instructor Michael Archie, who teaches privately in Chicago and founded his own style. “The classes I teach are very general. I studied Yoga around the world, in India and China extensively. From my studies and life I find that Yoga is like dance or a craft. I keep it simple and make it applicable to my clients. The type of Yoga that I teach is my own creation, Emo Yoga. I choose from the best possible Yoga poses available and suit them to my clients’ comfort and for their best success. And I measure success by joy. Emo Yoga, which I have designed, is yoga to make you feel better. Doing these gentle stretches, holds, and movement patterns bring a sense of wellbeing and clarity to the body of the participant. It is all about easy moves, soothing music, and a happy instructor who is inspiring by lifestyle, interaction, and appearance. Emo Yoga utilizes the inherent wellness within the body and the planet to enrich the participant. It’s easy.”
To get started, you won’t need much. One of the plusses of yoga is it can be practiced almost anywhere, without special equipment, and by people of all ages. It’s best to wear loose-fitting or stretch clothes and have a quiet space.
If you are starting out at home, start with a few warm-up exercises. Next, do your standing poses. These poses help increase blood circulation and aid in weight loss. Sitting poses not only help shape your buttocks and legs, but also have a calming effect. ‘Twist’ exercise are best. These relieve stress n your spine. Supine and Prone poses take away tension from your abdomen and strengthen your back, arms and legs. Inverted and balance poses will help you improve your coordination, increase stamina as well as your ability to focus. Back bend poses benefit the adrenal glands and the kidneys. Finally, finishing poses are the cooling down exercises.
Yoga is truly a practice that connects mind and body. “I want people to have good time. I relax people and let them get comfortable. I allow them to get in touch with their inner beings,” explains Archie, who also teaches at Kalmese Wellness Studio. “It’s really simple, effective. I focus on the client achieving a better state of health, relaxation, ease, and happiness.”