Imagine an activity that increases your flexibility, strengthens your muscles, centers your thoughts, and relaxes and calms you. Yoga does all that and more! In this article, I will review a brief history and the philosophy of yoga, the different types of yoga, the benefits, equipment you need to do it, where to do it, how to get started, and a whole lot more.
What is yoga?
Yoga is an ancient physical and spiritual discipline and branch of philosophy that originated in India reportedly more than 5,000 years ago. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to yoke, join, or unite. The Iyengar school of yoga defines yuj as the "joining or integrating of all aspects of the individual - body with mind and mind with soul - to achieve a happy, balanced and useful life." The ultimate aim of yoga, they claim, is to reach kaivalya (emancipation or ultimate freedom). Yoga means:
- To Engage
- To Get Involved
- To Participate
- To Connect
TYPES OF YOGA services provided
The term Hatha Yoga has been commonly used to describe the practice of asana (postures). The syllable 'ha' denotes the pranic (vital) force governing the physical body and 'tha' denotes the chitta (mental) force thus making Hatha Yoga a catalyst to an awakening of the two energies that govern our lives. More correctly the techniques described in Hatha Yoga harmonise and purify the body systems and focus the mind in preparation for more advanced chakra and kundalini practices.
The Hatha Yoga system includes asana along with the six shatkarmas (physical and mental detox techniques), mudras and bandhas (psycho-physiological energy release techniques) and Pranayama (pranic awakening practices). Fine tuning of the human personality at increasingly subtle levels leads to higher states of awareness and meditation.
- Yogasana(Yoga positions)
- Six shatkarmas(physical and mental detox techniques)
- Mudras and Bandhas(psycho-physiological energy release techniques)
Japa Yoga, Requirements, State of Consciousness in Matra Yoga, Methods of Chanting, Effects of Mantra, How to Practice & Rules of Mantra Chanting)
This system of Yoga is concerned with awakening of the psychic centers or chakras, which exists in every individual. (Please refer to the figure) There are six main chakras in the human beings.
The mind is made up of different subtle layers. Each of these layers progressively are associated with the higher levels of consciousness. Each of these levels are related to the different chakra or psychic center located throughout the psychic body. There are no of other chakras apart from the six main, which are associated with planes below the human level. In all we have chakras that connect us to animal levels of mind, to the instinctive realms of being or to the sublime heights of consciousness.
In Kundalini Yoga, higher-level chakras are awakened and also the activities associated with these higher psychic centers.The basic method of awakening involves deep concentration on these chakras and forcing their arousal. Asanas, pranayama, mudra and bandha and other forms of Yoga such as Mantra Yoga are also used to stimulate the awakening.
Power yoga is a general term used to describe a vigorous, fitness-based approach to vinyasa-style yoga.1 Though many consider power yoga to be superficial "gym yoga," this style of yoga practice was originally closely modeled on the Ashtanga method.
Power yoga incorporates the athleticism of Ashtanga, including lots of vinyasas (series of poses done in sequence) but gives each teacher the flexibility to teach any poses in any order, making every class different. With its emphasis on strength and flexibility, power yoga brought yoga into the gyms of America as people began to see yoga as a way to work out.
Health Benefits - Power yoga enthusiasts say it enhances stamina, flexibility, posture, and mental focus. Like all physical activities, it also relieves tension2 and releases toxins through sweat. Because it is rigorous, it burns more calories than most traditional forms of yoga and therefore can help with weight loss.
Some Caveats - Before you take the plunge, keep in mind that power yoga is hard work and is not for everyone.
Avoid Power Yoga If:
- You aren’t in good shape. Power yoga, at a minimum, requires you to be moderately fit—otherwise, the physically intensive asanas (poses) can end up doing more harm than good.
- You are pregnant. Certain asanas can potentially cause complications during pregnancy. (Instead, try prenatal yoga classes, which are gentle and designed for pregnant women.)
- You suffer from a chronic physical ailment such as diabetes or arthritis
YOGA FOR CHILDREN
Yoga for children is a form of modern yoga designed for children. It includes poses to increase strength, flexibility, and coordination. Classes are intended to be fun and may include age-appropriate games, animal sounds and creative names for poses.
Benefits: Emotional benefits include greater optimism and a less reactive nature. Mental benefits including increased focus, concentration and improvements in the quality of sleep have been reported.
Academic performance improves, along with confidence in physical abilities. Yoga is used for the treatment of children with special needs, and to aid conventional medical treatment.
Research suggests that yoga practice can protect boys from increases in negative behavior.
Physical benefits include increased flexibility, improved coordination and balance, and increased core and body strength. Mental benefits include stronger mind-body connection, increased self-esteem, better focus and concentration, and increased ability to relax and cope with stressful situations. Social and emotional benefits include more awareness of self and others, and increased skill in problem solving and conflict resolution.
YOGA FOR SENIOR CITIZENS
As we age, it’s important to incorporate physical activity into our daily routines to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. With a regular exercise routine, seniors will feel more energetic and can help manage the aches and pains that come with aging. This leads to a more independent life where you’re staying safer and feeling your best.
Yoga has been called one of the best forms of exercise for older adults. Over time and with the proper classes, seniors can improve their flexibility and balance, enhance their strength and boost their mood.
Strengthened bones - Yoga for seniors can help prevent the onset of osteoporosis, which causes bones to become brittle or weak. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone can’t keep up with the decrease of bone mass and density that occurs with aging.
Reduced stress - Yoga offers a relaxing way to let go of the tension you’re holding in your body, especially in your shoulders and upper back. It’s been known to help relieve some of the stresses that lead to hypertension, which in turn leads to not needing as many medications on a daily basis. Yoga also helps reduce anxiety, lowering your heart rate, blood pressure, and helping you breathe easier.
Improved sleeping habits - Because yoga for seniors can be so relaxing, many individuals report that they are sleeping longer and more soundly, which can often be an issue for older adults.
Enhanced balance, flexibility, mobility and strength - The slow, measured movements involved with yoga poses can lead to better balance and movement, which can also help prevent falls. As falls are the leading cause of injury among seniors, yoga helps provide the tools you need to improve your mobility so you can get around more safely.