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Complementary Healthcare Information Service - UK

Yoga

 

What is it?

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice using physical postures to obtain a harmony of mind, body and spirit. It is not a religion, but the discipline of breathing and concentration during practice will bring tranquility and awareness to the mind. Whilst Yoga is now taking many different forms, regular practice of any may bring about benefits, which include:

  • increased oxygenation of the blood
  • muscle toning throughout the body
  • a clearer and more relaxed mind
  • improved posture
  • improved circulation of blood and lymph
  • regulation of bodily functions.

Yoga Terms:

  • asanas  -  postures which can be dynamic or static
  • Bandha  -  internal energy locks which hold in prana or direct it elsewhere – they are formed when muscles are contracted
  • chakra  -  there are seven chakras along the vertical midline of the body -they are powerful areas that connect mind and body together
  • mantra  -  a chanted sound used to assist meditation practices or focus the mind
  • mudra  -  a hand position that allows prana to be channeled through the body, and connect with the mind
  • pranayama  -  a breathing technique to focus on prana carrying channels
  • samadhi  -  the state of bliss that yoga aims to connect with
  • viniyasa  -  a flow of asanas and pranayamas linked together to attain maximum benefit

Yoga Styles:

  • Astanga

A set sequence of postures that will not vary from class to class. The sequence will move through a Primary, Secondary, and then Advanced Series, the aim of which is to leave you feeling energized and balanced with an inner alertness. It is not a beginner’s method as some knowledge of postures and their correct form is required.

  • Bikram

A form of yoga that teaches 26 postures in a set sequence in a room heated to about 38 degrees C. It is both suitable for the beginner or the advanced student as the same pattern is always followed. The aim of the class is mostly physical improvement, although internal cleansing will also take place.

  • Hatha

The basis of most yoga classes, Hatha has its roots in the ancient systems first documented over 2,000 years ago. Its aim is to balance you both physically and mentally and will leave you feeling both stimulated and relaxed. It is suitable for both beginners and more advanced students, and classes will vary from teacher to teacher.

  • Iyengar

A very thorough form of yoga that pays attention to detail,The emphasis during a class is on correct alignment. The class is very suitable for beginners as it helps to learn each asana. The concentration involved in perfecting technique also goes to help focus the mind. A class will leave you feeling stronger, longer and calmer.

  • Kundalini

Perhaps the most spiritual of all the yoga disciplines. Kundalini combines asanas with mudras, mantras and breathing to allow connection with the charkas.

  • Power Yoga

Similar to Astanga yoga, this form was developed in America recently to offer a tough cardio workout. The classes will vary from teacher to teacher as there is no set routine.

  • Sivananda

This form may use mantras and meditation. It is based on 12 basic hatha postures and has a strong emphasis on breathing technique. Much of a class will also be devoted to relaxation. You will be left feeling uplifted and mentally focused.

  • Viniyoga

A specific one-to-one form of yoga, that aims to address as individuals needs – both mental and physical.

 

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