Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India. Yoga postures, called asanas, help align the body and prepare it for meditation. Practicing yoga promotes personal growth by helping you cultivate concentration and self-discipline.
It is not uncommon to see people of all ages practicing yoga , from children to senior citizens. On any given day, there are people practicing in parks, at home or even office buildings.
Types of Yoga
There are many forms of yoga. The most famous is probably Hatha yoga, which has physical poses (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama).
- Ashtanga Yoga – This is a form of yoga that involves eight poses and focuses on breathwork.
- Bikram Yoga – This is a series of 26 postures said to be done in temperatures between 95 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Iyengar Yoga – This type of yoga involves physical poses (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama).
- Kundalini Yoga – This type embodies asanas, pranayama and meditation (Samkhya).
- Viniyoga – Viniyoga focuses on form over function, focusing on the breath and adapting to the body. The practice works with repetition and holding poses for extended periods.
- Prenatal Yoga – This is a form of yoga that is practiced during pregnancy.
- Restorative Yoga – This yoga form is intended to balance the body and mind. A restorative yoga class can be as simple as four or five poses, combined with props such as blankets and bolsters. These props help the person sink into deep relaxation without expending any effort.
There are many benefits of practicing yoga. The most often-mentioned benefits include:
- Alleviates stress, anxiety and depression
- Improves well-being by helping you cultivate concentration and self-discipline
- Improves blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels
- Improves back and joint health
- Decreases risk factors for heart disease
- Reduces insomnia by helping you relax and sleep more efficiently
- Increases energy and sense of well-being.
Yoga for People With Arthritis
According to Everyday Health, regular yoga practice might help reduce joint inflammation, pain and swelling in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Yoga improves flexibility and reduces stress, which can also help with reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
How to Start Practicing Yoga
To practice yoga, you need a mat and towel. Water is often recommended, especially during hot yoga classes. You will also need comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely, but you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on exercise clothes. An instructor often leads yoga classes, but you can also teach yourself how to do yoga. Whether it is a class or self-paced practice, yoga can be done at home, in the park or even during lunch break at work.
Risks of Yoga
Many people benefit from yoga, but there are some risks associated with it. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma, you may want to consult a doctor before you begin practicing yoga. Even with these risks, studies have shown that the benefits outweigh the risks, and everyone can benefit from practicing yoga regularly.