Yoga is the practice of a set of postures and breathing exercises which aims to bring physical and mental well-being. this ancient art of living as it is explained in the texts is revealed as an initiation path that transcends physical discipline.
The first references to yoga are found in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali written about 200 years before our era. In this work we understand the basis of the philosophy of yoga and its possible application in all spheres of our life.
- There are dynamic yogas in which the sequence of postures is done to the rhythm of breathing such as ashtanga and vinyasa, in these rather physical courses while softening and strengthening the body, we improve the cardiovascular system.
- The Iyengar which is a more static yoga emphasizes the alignment of the body, here we take the time to dissect each of the asanas, we develop the understanding of our body.
- Hatha yoga is a gentle yoga easily practiced by older people.
it is important to find the style of yoga that suits us best, it depends a lot on our potential.
It is preferable, in order to benefit from the benefits of dynamic yogas, to be in good general health and to have a certain physical condition, otherwise it becomes difficult to keep pace, which generates a risk of injury.
For those who have back problems and who are not athletic, we must turn to a less dynamic yoga where we take the time to explain postures like Iyengar and hatha.
Types of yoga
Although postures classics are proven and remain the same for thousands of years, the Hatha Yoga continues to evolve and has taken different forms, especially during the XX th century. Each of the styles of yoga combines postures, breathing exercises and meditation in a more or less energetic or gentle, lively or calm manner. Here are the most common yogas in the West.
Anusara. A new form of yoga created in 1997 by John Friend. It quickly became popular and is now present in 70 countries. Its basic philosophy is to celebrate the heart and to see the good in everyone and everything.
Ashtanga. Characterized by the synchronization of breathing with fast sequences of increasingly demanding postures. This dramatically elevates metabolism and body temperature. Ashtanga is excellent for endurance. In the United States, a particularly dynamic form called Power Yoga has been devised .
Integral. Designed in the United States in the 1960s, it offers a balanced integration of postures, breathing, meditation and relaxation. (Not to be confused with the spiritual approach of Sri Aurobindo, also called integral yoga.)
Iyengar. Disciplined and rigorous courses which emphasize the alignment of the limbs and, above all, the spine; very health oriented. No spiritual connotation, but the meditative aspect is present.
Kripalu. A dance of body, mind and energy, with an emphasis on breathing techniques. Would particularly favor the cardiovascular, digestive and nervous systems.
Above all, aims to awaken kundalini , the original healing energy. The approach works on meditative awareness through sequences of postures.
Sivananda or Vedanta. The courses are given by the Sivananda organization, in its own centers. Emphasis is placed on positive thinking, meditation, breathing, relaxation and eating. Spiritual aspect very present.
Sudarshan Kriya. This form of yoga was created by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in the early 1980s. Present in more than 140 countries, it relies heavily on breathing to rebalance the body and mind.
Viniyoga. It is characterized by the integration of movement with breathing and by personalized teaching that adapts to each individual.
As for prenatal yoga , these are courses geared towards the specific needs of pregnant women. The instructor then chooses certain exercises (postural and respiratory) to help them overcome the difficulties related to pregnancy, facilitate the stages of childbirth and promote the return to bodily balance after birth. Instructors may have practiced in either of the movements listed above.
Benefits of yoga
Today when we talk about yoga we are talking mainly about the practice of asanas and pranayama, that is to say the postures which aim to soften and strengthen the body and the breathing exercises which regulate the flow of vital energy.
Yoga brings a large number of physical benefits including muscle relaxation (yoga postures are varied to stretch all of the large muscle groups). Some postures help build muscle gently, others work balance rather.
With regular practice we can correct posture errors developed throughout our lives which greatly reduces chronic back problems. A study carried out by the Temple University in 2008 showed that the practice of Iyengar yoga improves balance in women over 65 years of age.
Yoga helps reduce stress. During the session the attention is entirely focused on the body and the breath, one is in the “here and now”, which is a form of meditation. A study by Boston University published in 2010 showed that the yoga was effective in relieving anxiety.
On the carpet we are invited to take the time to listen to the body, attention is constantly brought back to the breath, we develop our ability to concentrate. For example in balance exercises all our attention is required to maintain the posture
Poses to do at home
When practicing at home the best is to do simple postures so as not to injure yourself, for example:
The triangle (trikonasana): stand with your feet together, take a step forward with your right foot, put your right hand on your right ankle and raise your left arm in the sky, try to keep your bust aligned with your right leg . Repeat the same on the opposite side.
The child’s posture (balasana) which is excellent for relieving tension in the lumbar region: get on your knees, feet and knees together then put your forehead on the ground in front and bring your arms along your body, listen your breathing.
A yoga session in practice
The sessions can be very different from one type of yoga to another. For dynamic yogas, the whole body is warmed up at the start of the lesson, with an emphasis on the muscle group that the professor has chosen to work on in particular.
Once warmed up, we advance in the intensity of the practice with a series of standing postures and balance postures. The last part of the course aims to slow down the heart rate so that it returns to normal, we prefer stretching in sitting and lying postures. We close the session with the dead man’s posture or “shavasana” which consists of lying on the back and relaxing all the muscles of the body.
What equipment to follow ?
The practice of yoga does not require much material just a mat for more comfort, in certain styles of yoga in particular the Iyengar one can use “bolster” which are big cousins on which one can rest a part of the body.
The yoga teacher: what is his training?
The yoga teacher must follow a minimum training of 200 hours which he can then supplement with a training of 300 hours to deepen his knowledge and improve his teaching techniques.
In conclusion, yoga is a lifestyle and a complete physical activity for the body and the mind. The practice of yoga brings real benefits by improving strength and flexibility but also by reducing stress and anxiety.
Also read: What to wear to Yoga Class? Best Yoga Outfit for beginners
Yoga as revealed by Patanjali is a path that leads to Samadhi, the union with the original principle. This route has 8 branches. To advance on the path of yoga, you must first follow a set of ethical principles which represent the cornerstone of this philosophy: Yamas and Nimyamas (do not steal, do not covet, have discipline, study self and sacred texts …)
Then comes the practice of asanas which are the postures that we teach in a yoga class, the asanas soften and strengthen the body and teach us to focus our attention in the present moment.
Once the practice of postures is well integrated, we can move on to the third step which is the harmonization and regulation of breathing: pranayama. Breathing exercises regulate our life force called prana.
the way of the yogi (the one who practices yoga) then becomes more subtle and includes concepts such as the abstraction of the senses and meditation always with the aim of uniting with the higher principle and returning to unity: samadhi.
Is yoga a religion?
Issues related to religion are very sensitive and the ordinary person cannot decide anything in them, so how can a multi-dimensional process like yoga be avoided in the name of religion ???
Actually, what happens is that some contractors decide that it has to be associated with religion or not ??
Yoga is a comprehensive system which gives great benefits, it keeps a person’s body, mind, money green, because if you are not sick then you will be healthy and your time and money are saved.
Now you tell me that the God of a particular religion will want that his people are not healthy or rich!
You will do yoga and the God of a particular religion will come and say to you – wait, don’t do this, it is against us and it does not come under my purview.
Don’t you love your body?
Are Yoga only beneficial to Hindus?
You can take sunlight but not greet it ??
Which religion is against breathing in and out ??
You cannot add it to a particular religion for any reason because it is going to benefit you as much as other religions ..
Where is the problem again ?? In yoga or in yourself…
When the international stage has implemented it globally and most of the countries of the world have adopted it, then where is the religion in it?
Today, the whole world is celebrating it as Yoga Day because it is beneficial for everyone who has adopted it.