Everyone seems to be talking about yoga lately. So what exactly is it?
Yoga is commonly recognised as a method, or discipline consisting of a series of physical exercises and breathing techniques. The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means “to yoke” or “bind” or “unite”, and the union yoga refers to is of the body, breath, mind, and spirit. There are eight (astau) limbs (anga) of yoga practice which consist of mental and breath control as well as physical postures – in fact, physical asana, what we commonly perceive as yoga, is only one of these limbs.
The physical postures, or asanas are practiced to cultivate control of the body, and the breathing practice, or pranayamas, are practiced to cultivate control of the breath. Pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses is practiced to gain control of the mind, leading to dharana, concentration and dhyana, meditation – and all of this comes through repetition and practice.
Yoga works well as a standalone practice, or it is a healthy complement to other sports and activities where a programme of regular stretching would be beneficial. There are far too many benefits of regular yoga practice to list in this short blog post, but here are a few of the things that make yoga such a great addition to your life:
- it stretches muscles and connective tissues that are often tight from overuse, or from too much time spent sitting, improving mobility and preventing injury
- it strengthens limbs and core, working on deeper supporting and stabilising muscles rather than the obvious big muscle groups, although it works them too!
- it teaches us how to be more aware of our physical bodies – we begin to notice, for example, when our posture is poor, or when our core muscles are inactive
- it teaches us how to breathe more efficiently and effectively which has the dual effect of improving lung capacity and health, and also tapping in to the parasympathetic nervous system to de-stress and relax
- it creates a place of space, away from your busy daily life, where you focus on breathing and movement and nothing else
- it can reveal both strengths and limitations – where you try too hard, or where you back down too quickly – this deeper awareness can affect how you react to day to day challenges
- finally, it leaves you feeling mentally and physically revitalised and refreshed, and what’s not to like about that!
The best way is to jump in and try a class. For more information about classes here at Miyoga visit the timetable and see if anything suits