The benefits of yoga transcend the physical realm and, in a classic Hassed manner, extends to the psycho-social facets of life. As an alternative therapy, yoga has been recommended as an adjunct to treatment for many medical conditions – and, unlike many other complementary therapies, has been proven to be of benefit. The physical aspects of yoga combined with the breathing exercises and mediation result in it being almost the perfect recipe for a wholesome healthy life.
Regular yoga practice will lead to visible improvements in the below aspects of bio-psycho-social wellbeing amongst others:
- Strength and muscle tone
- Stress reduction
- Body awareness
- Psychological – concentration, memory, attention, mood
There are many types of yoga, each with its own unique philosophy, and as a result it is important that you do some research on the class you’re planning to attend; firstly, to know what you’re getting yourself into, but also to make sure you pick the type of yoga that suits you the best. Some of the most popular styles you are likely to come across are:
- Hatha – movement tends to be slow and gentle and hence more relaxing
- Bikram – a progression through 26 poses in a hot room, take a towel
- Vinyasa – poses flow from one to another, tends to be the most popular type
- Kundalini – a lot of spinal and core work
- Ashtanga – aka power yoga, physically intense and probably not for a beginner
If you are signed up to a health club, most should have a yoga class that you can involve yourself with. Otherwise, there are numerous dedicated yoga studios all around Melbourne that you can either participate in classes on a casual basis or join on a fixed contract if you fall in love. If the aforementioned options don’t suit you for one reason or another, you can practice at home with the help of some excellent YouTube classes or Apple apps (Yoga Studio would be a personal recommendation – it’s full of detailed instructions and videos – all for $4.99). If you’re an absolute beginner I would highly advise you to at least start with a couple of live classes with an instructor so that your basic technique can be corrected and will decrease the chance of you causing yourself injury.
Beyond the mat, yoga is a way of life that people from all walks of life “convert” to after really connecting with the physical side of it. The philosophies surrounding yoga are ancient and deeply meaningful. If you do a quick Google search you will find endless hits on individuals who have transformed their lives through yoga and its teachings. If you really want to connect with yoga and practice on a deeper level I would highly recommend you reading “Light on Yoga” by B. K. S. Iyengar; it is a great insight to yoga off-the-mat.
Overall, the best aspect of yoga is that it is totally inclusive in the sense that anybody can do it – regardless of fitness level – and further, regardless of your fitness goals, everybody can benefit. Each pose tends to have advancing variations that you can progress through to challenge yourself as your practice improves. I can’t stress the importance of practising as regularly as possible – even if its only for 15 minutes a day – as increased frequency of practice will lead to maximal benefit.
So grab a mat, open your mind and enjoy the journey – what are you waiting for?
If you have any questions regarding Yoga or any other fitness topic please ask us in the comments section.
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