For the new year I have decided to attend Yoga on a more regular basis. I used to go to yoga every week and I really did enjoy it, but my attendance started to dwindle as I began to do much more fast paced exercise all the time such as Spinning, Circuits and Aerobics. Suprisingly I have noticed that I had more muscle tone and definition when I did yoga regularly, in comparison to when I do aerobic activities. It is good to have a mix of both aerobics and strength exercises such as yoga as they both have different benefits.
Yoga is an ancient Hindu practice that people have been doing for thousands of years. There are numerous styles of yoga so it is always best to try and find a class that is suited to you. Yoga relieves daily tensions and anxieties, it improves spine health and muscle tone immensely. It can be started at any age and there is no age limit for when you should stop practicing yoga either. Below I have listed a few more of the benefits:
- Cardiovascular efficiency increases
- Posture improves
- Core muscles are strengthened
- Energy levels are increased
- Pain decreases
- Integrated functioning of body parts improve
I practice Ashtanga/Power Yoga I find it the most enjoyable and challenging. Ashtanga means “Eight Limbs” and this is a fast paced intense style of yoga. You follow a set series of poses which are always performed in the same order, this class is physically demanding but fun.
Bikram Yoga, also known as Hot yoga, was pioneered by Bikram Choudhury, and is performed in a room that is heated to 95- 100 degrees! This encourages tight muscles to stretch and also causes you t sweat rather profusely which some believe is cleansing to both the body, skin and mind. I have not tried Bikram yoga yet but I do want to, there are numerous classes held in and around central London which are easy to commute to.
Hatha Yoga is a term which is sometimes used quite generally to cover different types of yoga, if it is used to describe a class it will usually mean that the class will be slow- paced, providing a good introduction to beginners on the different types of yoga poses.
Vinyasa Yoga is based around synchronizing your breathing with the yoga moves that are being performed. This class will be slightly more vigorous than a Hatha class as you perform more sun salutations and again match your breathing. This class is intermediate and the warm up at the beginning of the class means that the body is prepared for more intense stretching.
Iyengar Yoga is mostly concerned with keeping the body aligned and being precise with poses. In Iyengar classes you hold the pose for a longer period of time.
This is just a brief introduction to some of the most popular styles of Yoga on the market, there are many more. I hope that I have encouraged you to give Yoga a try for the new year, or if you already practice yoga you could challenge yourself with a different style. I intend to try Bikram Yoga at some point this year!