Why Practice Yoga?
Yoga offers us a holistic approach to body, mind and spirit, which can provide us with tools to cope with the challenges of daily life.
You may be drawn to yoga for health and fitness. You might want help with managing stress, or would like pregnancy yoga classes or exercises suitable for the less able-bodied. Whatever your objectives, there are yoga classes that can meet them. By making yoga part of your daily routine, you may become aware of subtle changes in your approach to life.
What is yoga? A system of philosophy that originated in India approx 5,000 years ago, the Sanskrit word yoga is translated as ‘union’ between mind, body and spirit. In the West, the most widely taught form of yoga is Hatha Yoga with classes offering students exercises to stretch and flex the body, develop breath awareness, relaxation and sometimes meditation.
Asana (yoga postures) strengthen and tone the body, encouraging a healthy flow of energy (prana). The objective in asana work is not how far you can stretch or contort your body, but to maintain focus and concentration, combining stability (stira) with ease/relaxation (sukha).
Breathing Practice Simple breathing techniques are taught to develop awareness and relaxation of the breath. These are then developed into pranayama exercises – moving prana through the breath. Prana means the ‘vital’ or ‘life force energy’.
Meditation There are a huge variety of meditation techniques and styles.You will most likely come across Dharana practice, the practice of stilling the mind by focussing your awareness on a single object – the movement of the breath, an image or candle, a sound or chant. From this quietness you may experience a transition to meditation (Dhyana).
How to start and where to begin Choose a teacher qualified to a nationally accredited standard eg British Wheel of Yoga. Different classes will have a different emphasis – some being more physical, some focussing more on relaxation, breath work and meditation. Talk to the teacher about their approach before you sign up for a class. Wear clothing that you can move and stretch in, layers are a good idea.
Most yoga is practised on non-slip mats, a blanket is also a useful prop.
Always remember to tell your teacher about any medical conditions and if there are any changes to your health.
Your yoga teacher offers you tools to discover your own individual yoga journey.
For more information see http://www.bwy.org.uk/information/1/About_Yoga.htm
British Wheel of Yoga South West Region http://www.bwysouthwest.me.uk/