The benefits of Yoga are well know to everyone who has ever tried the discipline but if you are new to Yoga let me recap. Yoga is a fantastically popular and effective way of strengthening you physically as well as mentally and spiritually. This last ‘spiritual’ aspect may turn some people off, but it’s not something that needs to be associated with religion. Really the best alternate word for the spiritual strength of Yoga is contentment or happiness. It allows you to be a calmer person and more happy with yourself. Put like that it sounds pretty great doesn’t it?
So you’ve probably heard a little about Yoga and wondered what it’s all about. you probably have a few preconceptions and maybe an image of an old man with a long beard sitting in the lotus position springs into your head in automatic association with the word. Let’s go through step by step what you can expect in a typical Yoga session.
Step One: The Introduction and Preparation.
Most Yoga classes begin in a standing position. There are both mental and physical reasons for this and they are closely connected. The standing position is the most natural Human position there is. Leonardo Da Vinci produced a famous scientific picture of the symmetry of the human body when it is in it’s natural standing position. The outstretched arms and legs can have a perfect circle drawn around them and this is true of everyone regardless of their height or weight. What this means is that a standing pose comes naturally to us – we are not worried about getting it wrong and we can concentrate of the state of the body. Breathing exercises will be a key part of the warm up stage for your routine. This is the only time in your life you will be ‘taught’ to breath and it’s a skill which allows people to restore calm to their bodies and thoughts.
Step Two: The Main Routine
This is the art of your Yoga session which will vary the greatest depending on what forms of Yoga you are learning. While the individual exercises you will be doing are going to be quite different, the nature of them will be very similar. This will mean moving into certain poses and positions and holding those poses to allow the body to stretch out muscles and muscle groups that in many cases haven’t been given much attention during the week. Some Yoga teachers will talk to you about energy points of chakra’s. These are important junctions in your body where congestion occurs and stretching them out allows energy to flow freely around your body.
Ste Three: Ending the Session
While the main session is about releasing pent up energies, this stage of your Yoga workout is all about allowing that energy to flow around your body. Many people have trouble with thinking about some strange mystic force that is flowing through you and driving it to certain parts of your body. If you are one of them just mentally substitute the word ‘energy’ with the word ‘blood’. We know that the job of blood is to carry nutrients and oxygen around our body, and we know that if any part of our body is lacking in this supply that we will become ill, so it’s not a huge stretch to think of blood as the mystic energy force that brings health around our body, and exercises such as Yoga as being the method of ensuring the smooth and successful flow of that blood.
Yoga is an ancient Indian physical practice for well being and it has four paths described in the vedas. The Bhagavad Gita also talks about these four paths for peace, freedom and libration. These are the aspects of a whole that is called yoga. Yoga is the union of mind, body and soul. Below are these four paths-
1. Bhakti Yoga- It is the path of devotion, compassion, love, emotion and service to God and others. It is path of devotion to someone/something superior or higher than yourself. It helps to reduce your ego, increase your spirituality, develop a tangible relationship and connect you to the divine. You will experience the emotions like love, devotion and compassion at points along the journey. It is the path of divine love and makes yogi motivated by the power of love and sees God as the embodiment of it. In bhakti yoga, a yogi surrenders himself to God through worship, prayer and ritual and it is a process of connecting to God through chanting, worship, prayer or singing. It is also a way to connect you to God or a greatest power and it opens the heart and helps let go of preconceived ideas. The bhakti yoga develops love for God and creation and appealing to the emotional by nature.
2. Karma Yoga- It is about doing actions. It is the path of action and remembering the levels of our being while fulfilling our actions in the world. A karma yogi needs to be selfless and do actions without thought of gain or reward. Everyone have their duties in the world in the role of wife, daughter, sisters, father, colleague, teachers etc. We should do our duties to the best of our abilities without thought of gain or reward or appreciation. Nobody can live without doing actions. We should do our duties in the right attitude, right motive, do best, and follow the discipline of the job. There are a hierarchy of our duties-
* Duty towards society.
* Duty towards family.
* Duty towards yourself.
3. Raja Yoga- It is the path of self-discipline and practice. A raja means king who acts with self-confidence, independence and assurance and a raja yogi is independent and fearless. It is about controlling the mind to get all eight stages of raja yoga. Raja yoga is also known as ashtanga yoga and its eight stages are-
* Yama – Self-control.
* Asana – Physical exercises.
* Niyama- Discipline.
* Pranayama – Breath exercises.
* Pratyahara – Withdrawal of the senses from external objects.
* Dhyana – Meditation.
* Dharana – Concentration.
* Samadhi – Complete Realization.
4. Gyan Yoga (Jnana Yoga) – It is the path of acquiring knowledge from a variety of different sources. After getting knowledge from the credible sources put it in practice. It uses the mind to inquire into self-nature. The sources can be classes, lectures, reading, seeking the company of wise peoples etc. Before this yoga you needs have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths. We use our knowledge and power to analyze to grow that improves our awareness. We have to ready to distinguish between true and untrue.
While most people have the notion that you have to be flexible in order to do yoga, the truth is, anyone will benefit from yoga regardless of age. Even people who aren’t flexible will actually see results faster. It’s perfectly suited to all levels because yoga is a practice geared to helping you become aware of your own highly individual mind/body connection.
The raves about yoga is more than just a current trend or a flash in the pan fad. The physical and psychological benefits of yoga for stress management has been taking America by storm no matter if it takes one to stand on his head, or twist her foot behind the neck like a human pretzel.
The regular practice of yoga can help decrease stress and tension, increase strength, balance and flexibility, lower blood pressure and reduced cortisol levels. It also yields strong emotional benefits due to the emphasis on breathing and the interconnection of mind, body and spirit.
Frequent practice of yoga for stress management induces better sleep, helps individuals not to focus on things beyond their control and how to live in the present. It makes a stressful event a lot easier to handle, whether it’s family or work.
Whatever misconceptions you have about yoga and stress management should take a back seat. While most people have the notion that you have to be flexible in order to do yoga, the truth is, anyone will benefit from yoga regardless of age. Even people who aren’t flexible will actually see results faster. It’s perfectly suited to all levels because yoga is a practice geared to helping you become aware of your own highly individual mind/body connection.
There are many different styles of yoga to suit your preference. Hatha yoga is one of the most flowing and gentle options that is a good choice as starting point. Vinyasa is more athletic while Iyengar concentrates on proper alignment. However, Bikram or “hot” yoga, is not recommended for beginners.
It doesn’t matter if you join late in a yoga class. It’s not about doing it better or worse than the others, it’s about how you feel each stretch in your body. What matters most is how relaxed you can allow yourself to feel.
Yoga is considered as a deeply personal practice and no two people can or should hold a pose in exactly the same manner. A person has to work at his or her own level of flexibility, one that is challenging but not overwhelming. If you don’t feel good with what the instructor is telling you to do, don’t do it. Your body will warn you if you are about to get hurt. It is important that you listen to your body, push the limits gently, but don’t let yourself be overcome by ego. Allow your body to guide you and be your friend.
The goal of yoga is to synchronize the breath and movement. It is important when to inhale and exhale as you work through poses. Breathing only through your nose keeps heat in the body and keeps the mind focused. Concentrating on your breath is the key to yoga for stress management, as it helps you let go of external thoughts and anxiety. The easiest way to bring yourself into the present moment is to focus on your breath. Feel how it goes down your nose and into your body. It helps you let go of the worrying thoughts.
As you end each yoga session, simply lie on your back with both arms at your side with eyes closed and breathing deeply. This final “corpse pose” is designed for deep relaxation.
Bear in mind that yoga is a slow process. Forget about expectations. Let go of competition and judgment. As yoga brings you into the present moment, you will experience joy not only in the physical movement and mental benefits but in spending time in the now.