Yoga has been a popular trend in recent years. Not only have yoga studios starting popping up on every corner, yoga-clothing and zen-style have become known as the most comfortable clothing choices out there. There are dozens of different styles of yoga and it can be hard to know where to start. So consider this your ultimate beginners guide to yoga, where we will answer a few of the basic questions for people starting their yoga journey.
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What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice that was started over 2,000 years ago in India. It is suspected to have been developed in either 5 or 6th century BCE. Traditionally yoga is a meditative and spiritual practice that is aimed at connecting the physical, mental and spiritual parts of humans.
In western culture yoga is more popularly recognized as a form of exercise, physical fitness and stress relief. No matter what you’re searching for, whether its physical fitness or spiritual engagement there yoga is for everybody, and every type of body.
Why Should You Be Doing Yoga?
The benefits of yoga are numerous!
- Increased flexibility, muscle strength, muscle tone, respiration
- Improved cardiovascular and circulatory health
- Protection from further injury
- May reduce inflammation in the body
The mental benefits of yoga are mostly related to stress relief. When we are less stressed out we feel better, and the decrease in the amount of cortisol (a stress hormone in our bodies) may also aid in relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression![/notebox]
What Kind of Yoga is Best for Me?
The type of yoga that is the best fit will depend on what it is that you want to get out of the practice! Here are a few of the most common styles of yoga, to help you make your choice!
Hatha is an umbrella term that refers to all of the yoga styles that are grounded in physical movement. Hatha yoga is a classic approach to yoga, and is a great place for beginners to start their yoga journey.
Iyengar yoga relies on props to help perfect the form of each pose and to allow you to stretch deeper into the poses in a safe way. Iyengar yoga focuses on bodily alignment, precision and breath control. This style of yoga is good for people who are methodical and enjoy moving at a slower pace to really feel the poses.
Kundalini yoga is equal parts spiritual and physical. Kundalini yoga is all about releasing energy that is trapped or coiled at the base of the spine. You will pay special attention to the internal sensations that arise. Kundalini yoga works your core with fast moving and energizing postures. The practice usually involves mantras, chanting, or meditation. While it is still physical, kundalini is a yoga for someone who also wants to gain something more from their practice.
Ashtanga yoga is referred to as both “The Eight Limb Path” and “Power Yoga”. Ashtanga yoga is very physically demanding, and focuses on a series of 6 postures that are repeated many times during the session. Ashtanga yoga is directed towards more advanced yoga students as it is often quite challenging.
Vinyasa yoga is an offset of Ashtanga yoga. Vinyasa yoga is athletic and fast paced, focusing on quickly flowing from one pose to the next to get your heart rate up. Vinyasa is good for active beginners who are focused on physical fitness.
Yin yoga is slow paced and often revolves around seated postures. Postures are held for longer periods of time, sometimes even lasting two minutes. Part of the aim is to let gravity do the work for you as you slowly move into positions. Because of its slower pace, yin yoga is often meditative and focused on inner peace.
Other popular forms of yoga include hot yoga, prenatal, restorative, and jivamukti (which is the most spiritual of the yoga practices). yoga trends are also out there, such as yoga with animals, nude yoga, beer yoga, and aerial yoga.
With so many different styles and practices, there is a yoga style out there for everyone. While it may seem challenging at first, yoga benefits everyone and you’ll be smiling in that downward dog in no time!