HISTORY AND DEFINITION OF YOGA
Have you spoken to any yogis lately? Try walking up to a few and inquire about the definition of yoga – you will get different answers. For many, yoga gives them a good feeling in their bodies. Others see it as a form of spiritualism, while for many others, it is just another way of life. But whatever the approach, it helps to open up your unconsciousness and habits. It’s mostly related to conscious breathing, Meditation & body poses. We will learn about different forms to practice & how to get started?
Yoga lays the foundation for cultivating good habits like non-attachment, self-inquiry, and discipline. It provides that empowering force that encourages you to live a healthy and fulfilled life.
Yoga is derived from the word “yuj”. It signifies happiness, peace, and clarity.
According to the second verse of “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,” it is defined as “cessation of mind wandering.” ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” was written sometime between 500 BCE and 400 CE. It is based on an eight-limb system that guides you to transcend beyond your mind.
Today, modern Yoga is mostly-practiced. Asanas of modern yoga was developed by Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya in the early 20th century. He has written famous books like Yoga Makaranda, Yogaasanagalu, Yoga Rahasya, Yogavalli. We know him as “the father of modern yoga”.
YOGA MOTIVATION: WHEN SHOULD YOU START PRACTICING?
In today’s world, our nervous system and our minds are under constant stimulation. Yoga helps to slow your mind and restore balance.
A study was conducted in 2016 by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance. Results from the study showed that over 35 million people were practicing yoga & meditation. This translates to a 50% increase from 2012.
The cause of this rise and booming growth is not clear. But it may be attributed to the many benefits that yoga bestows on the mind and body.
Yoga has physical benefits
Many postures help to increase:
Perhaps this is why athletes incorporate it into their cross-training regimen.
When you engage in a yoga session, your body will undergo a wide range of motion. This motion can counteract the pains and aches associated with poor posture and tension. So, it increases your awareness of your own body and also improves your athleticism.
It eases stress and helps you relax
Another important factor that motivates us to do yoga is that it eases stress. When you get overstressed, your nervous system will go into overdrive. And you will find it difficult to sleep, focus, or unwind. During yoga, you will practice some breathing exercises which will lower your heart rate and relax your nervous system. It also increases focus and helps you to sleep better.
For spiritual people, they may experience an effect that is beyond the physical. Yoga creates a link to your sense of purpose. As you kickstart a yoga plan, your aims and objectives can change depending on your needs.
BASICS AND FOUNDATION
Yoga is not a one-size-fits-all activity. It varies, and you can try out any form of it. If you are a beginner, then you should try different styles. This will help you to find out the one that is most suitable for you. Here are the major types.
This type focuses on meditation and breathing for people who cannot move about as they should. It improves their posture, body awareness, and relaxation.
This form of yoga involves a combination of sitting and standing postures especially for those whose emphasis is on posture, alignment, range of motion, and muscular power.
It incorporates compassion, meditation, deep listening, and chanting. Jivanmukti is most suitable for practitioners who want to incorporate to ancient yoga teachings in their practice. It also makes a good for those who want to follow the spiritual route while learning Sanskrit, gaining full awareness of their bodies, and building relationships.
It is also known as a “flow class.” Vinyasa is a dynamic form of yoga. Your physical movement is synchronized with your breath. The physical moves made in the Vinyasa are faster than in a regular Hatha class.
Hatha uses breathing techniques and yoga poses to calm your mind, body, and spirit. It prepares the yogist for meditation. Maintaining the poses may require a great deal of physical exertion.
In Ashtanga, you will undergo many physically-tasking and fast-paced moves. In conventional classes, you may not have access to water and you can only move to the next step after you have recorded success in the last.
Kundalini incorporates Kriya (repeated movements), mantras, dynamic breathing, meditation, and chanting. It awakens your spinal energy and draws it through the chakras.
It is made up of two breathing techniques. It also involves 26 poses. You have to repeat the same poses for 90 minutes in the same order. Bikram is practiced in a heated room of temperature 40.6oC. And so, your sweat brings out the toxins.
This comprises of gentle poses. Each pose is held for at least ten minutes. Restorative yoga allows props for relaxation and support. The props may include bolsters, blankets, and straps.
The yin pose is maintained for 3-5 minutes. You may sit or lie during the exercise. The aim is to ease tension and restore the motion range of connective tissue and muscles. Yin is very beneficial to those who have chronic pain, stress, or tight muscles.
A cursory look at the different styles will reveal a common denominator – self-healing. Whatever style you practice, it will help you to look inward and understand yourself better. This will enable you to be of greater service to your loved ones and those looking up to you.
YOGA BEGINNER STAGE: What to expect
When you are starting something new, you will be very excited, and in some cases, nervous. The same experience also comes with it. We will illustrate what you should expect during the beginner, intermediate, and pro stage.
Where to start?
There are many yoga & meditation classes out there. You may have a few in your locality as well. Find a place that is convenient for you – a place who’s schedule fits with yours. Examples would include:
- Private instructors
- Yoga studios in your neighborhood
- Athletic and gym clubs
- Corporate and workplace yoga
- Chiropractic offices, physical therapy offices, and other integrative health settings
- Websites and online programs
Strive to make one or two classes weekly for the first few months. With consistency, you will become familiar with the poses. You will also begin to reap the physical and mental benefits of it.
A beginner’s class usually holds for at least 60 minutes, and at most 90 minutes. Your instructor will guide you via breathing techniques and also sets you into the poses. Some instructors demonstrate the poses themselves.
The class typically ends with the Savasana pose. In the Savasana pose, you will lie on your back for several minutes with your eyes closed. During Savasana, you can feel the physical impacts of the yoga.
The teacher says a “namaste” after Savasana, while the students will repeat. Namaste signifies gratitude.
YOGA INTERMEDIATE STAGE
By now, you would have mastered most of the things that seemed impossible to you at first. You understand the benefits, and you’ve also experienced the calm and clear moments.
This is what you need to do during the intermediate stage to advance your yoga journey:
Be dedicated: Now that you’ve identified your best style of yoga, engage in regular practice. You could do an online subscription, register at a yoga studio, or fix regular dates with a friend who understands it and who is willing to help.
Subtlety: You’ve outgrown the basics. What you need to do now is to explore its energetic, emotional, and mental effects. Cultivate body awareness. Develop a sense of your body’s position in space. Take note of the details, from pranayama and meditation to mudra and mantra.
Be focused: The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. As you become familiar with the practice, you may develop “Drishti.” Drishti means concentrated intention or focus. The continued focus will help you to avoid distractions while generating a sense of calm and clarity.
YOGA ADVANCED STAGE
As an advanced yogi, you should practice 4 – 6 times every week. At this stage, you have to practice more forms of it including active asana and restorative asana, meditation, and pranayama. You can also add mantra and mudra if it appeals to you.
How long you practice and the style of practice will depend on your needs. At this point, maintaining focus on your internal state and breathing will help you to tap into the depth of your practice.
YOGA SHOPPING LIST
Your attire is as important as your ability to focus during the sessions. You need something comfortable – maybe running shorts or yoga pants. You may already have your clothes or you may need to buy something new. Whatever the case, choose an option that matches your budget and makes you comfortable as well.
A sample shopping list would include:
- Set of blocks
- Yoga pants
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