YOGA - THE TOTAL HEALTH SYSTEM
Much has been written about the benefits brought by regular yoga practice Â?healthy, body & skin, improved posture, toned muscles, calmer mind Â? are a few of the claims made. Well, as a practitioner of Iyengar yoga for nearly 20 years, I can whole-heartedly agree. It has made me strong & flexible; it has improved my posture, balance, coordination and concentration. It keeps colds and flu away by bolstering my immune system. Above all, it has helped me cope with life in a calm and focused way.
For many of my students, physical problems such as flat feet, back pain, stiff joints or sporting injuries are greatly improved and yoga for them quickly becomes an essential habit. For more serious illnesses, it provides relief from symptoms and from stress caused by the disease. Whilst working with the Northants County Cricket team, players such as Monty Panesar told me how yoga had helped them to focus more, improved their recovery time and alleviated existing injuries.
Yoga postures work on all parts of our body not just external Â? muscles, tendons, bones & joints but also internal Â? heart, liver, kidneys etc and also on the major body systems Â? endocrine, cardiovascular, immune, excretory, circulatory, digestive, lymphatic, respiratory & reproductive. It acts like a body maintenance programme, helping to get rid of toxins, improve circulation, regulate hormones, toning and detoxifying the liver, improving the flow of blood to all our organs including the brain and skin. This means that if the body is healthy on the inside, it will look healthy on the outside helping to improve the tone & texture of the skin giving a more radiant, natural glow.
However, you don't have to practice anything complicated or be a certain body type to receive the benefits of yoga. Learning good posture has profound affects on the whole body and mind. Try this simple exercise as an example:
Stand with your feet planted squarely, just a little apart. First, let your shoulders and back round, droop your head and collapse your chest. Notice how you feel physically & mentally. Then, stretch your toes, tighten your knees and thighs, lift your chest and head, roll your shoulders back, feel yourself getting taller and stretch your arms down by your sides. Notice the immediate difference. Then, extend yourself further by taking your arms straight up and stretch the fingers towards the ceiling Â? don't forget to breathe! Hold for a little while then rest.
Yoga is for every "body" and a skilled teacher will be able to provide help for the complete unfit beginner to the professional sportsperson. BKS Iyengar, one of the world's foremost authorities on yoga said: "A good (yoga) book is better than a bad teacher". It is important to make sure that your teacher is qualified and experienced, particularly if you have an injury or illness that might need special attention. Iyengar yoga teachers have to go through several years' training before they can qualify, and every year have to update their training in order to maintain their teacher status. Other yoga training schools have similar programmes designed to protect students and further good teaching of yoga. There are many skilled teachers available offering a variety of teaching styles. Don't be afraid to try different classes until you find the one you are most comfortable with, but my advice is to go a few times until you make your choice.
For Iyengar Yoga classes and holidays in Portugal and UK workshops, contact Rachel Lovegrove Â? 0207 558 8658 Â? firstname.lastname@example.org or for other areas visit www.iyengaryoga.org.uk
About the author:
Rachel is an Iyengar qualified teacher living and working in Portugal. Teaching for over 10 years, she helps students of all levels of ability, fitness and health to enjoy and benefit from Iyengar yoga. For more information, visit www.orangetreeyoga.com or call her on 0207 558 8658/00351 913 839 621
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