We’ve all seen the image of the beautiful svelte yogi in the $90 yoga pants twisting herself into a pretzel. Once glance at this gorgeous photo of an experienced yogi in an advanced position and suddenly yoga feels inaccessible to you. You’re thinking I can’t do that, I can’t even touch my toes. But anyone can practice yoga! And yoga is for everyone– all ages, all body types, all colors, all levels.
Yoga feels good and it’s good for you. The benefits of a yoga practice include increased flexibility, muscle strength, mental clarity and stress relief. Yes yoga will change your body but more importantly it will change your mind.
Hatha Yoga combines postures (asanas) with conscious breathing and focus to develop strength, flexibility and mental clarity. Students can expect to develop body awareness and explore varied postures in a mixed-level environment
If you’re new to yoga, the first step is to discover which type of yoga works best for you. I recommend Hatha Yoga, a gentle style which focuses on the basic postures and breathing. The class flows at a slower pace and is perfect if you’re a beginner yogi.
Vinyasa means “breath-synchronized movement,” and Vinyasa yoga is a series of poses that will move you through the power of inhaling and exhaling. Vinyasa movements are smoothly flowing and almost dance-like, which explains why it is sometimes referred to as Vinyasa Flow or just Flow.
Stepping back on your mat? Or in search of something faster paced? Vinyasa flow is more your speed. Vinyasa, links breath to movement and lots of Sun Salutation A and Sun B sequences are performed in between the poses. This style of yoga involves continuous movement and is more physically challenging.
Some like it hot! Bikram yoga or Hot Vinyasa yoga are classes where the studio cranks the temperature up to between 95 to 100 degrees. Bikram focuses on the same set of 26 postures while Hot Vinyasa classes follow a flow style. The heat of the room plus the body heat of the yogis can make this class uncomfortable for some. Drink plenty of water before attempting a hot yoga class and check with the teacher or your doctor if you’re pregnant or have any health issues.
Once you feel comfortable and confident in your yoga practice, you may find Ashtanga is your yoga of choice. In Ashtanga, a series of postures are performed and always in the same order. There are several series in Ashtanga. Sun A Salutations are performed between postures making this style very physically demanding.
The benefits of yoga are vast and amazing. You get stronger, more flexible, happier (yes it’s true) and more relaxed. Your balance, focus, and immunity improve. The list goes on– better posture, blood flow, lower blood pressure, healthier joints, peace of mind. You start to take your practice off your mat and checking in with your breath when you find yourself in traffic, a long line or a stressful situation.
If you don’t feel comfortable attending a class, there are plenty of yoga classes and videos online instructed by certified teachers. You can always start at home. But start somewhere. Incorporating yoga into your life is will improve your overall mental well being and physical health
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