Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual disciplines that has its roots in ancient India. The popular types of yoga are the Hatha yoga and the Raja yoga. Yoga came to the attention of the Westerners in the mid-19th century. In the 1980’s yoga became a popular form of physical exercise in the Western world. However in Indian traditions yoga is more than a physical exercise. It has a meditative and spiritual core.
Research Has Proven Health Benefits of Yoga
Yoga Promotes Mental Health
Boston University researchers found that yoga is highly beneficial than other forms of exercise in its positive effect on anxiety and mood. The researchers using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy(MRS) imaging found that GABA levels increased significantly in subjects, who practiced yoga than participants who spent time walking.
Low levels of Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA)is linked with depression and other widespread anxiety disorders. The study participants who practiced yoga reported a more significant decrease in anxiety and greater improvements in mood than those who walked.
Practicing yoga for three times a week can significantly improve the cognitive performance of senior citizens, according to the scientists of the University of Illinois. Studies show that yoga has an immediate quieting effect on the sympathetic nervous system and the body’s response to stress. Since stress and anxiety can affect your cognitive ability,yoga intervention can boost your performance by reducing stress.
Yoga Prevents Middle Age Spread
Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has found that practicing yoga prevents middle age spread. It promotes weight loss in obese people. If you practice yoga regularly, it will help you to eat mindfully. And individuals who eat mindfully are less likely to put on weight.
Yoga Is Useful for Treating Pain
According to the American Pain Society, yoga appears to be an effective treatment for neck pain. It provides additional benefits such as improved psychological wellbeing and quality of life. Experts say that yoga might enhance the toning of muscles and releases muscle tension. These relaxation responses modify neurobiological pain responses and help to reduce pain.
According to University of York researchers, yoga could provide a cost-effective way of treating patients who suffer from chronic or low back pain. Yoga offers positive long-term outcomes. You can do it according to the bio-psycho-socio nature of the condition of your chronic back pain.
Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Yoga
Experts at the European Society of Cardiology says that there is promising evidence that the mind-body practice of yoga is beneficial and improves the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.
Research results pointed out that yoga had a significant reduction in the body mass index, systolic blood pressure and the bad cholesterol levels (LDL). Yoga increased the High-density lipoprotein or the good cholesterol. The risk factor improvements were significant when yoga was performed along with medication.
According to the investigators, yoga has some possible physiological aerobic benefits and some stress reducing relaxation effect. These factors boost your cardiovascular health.
Informative Tips for Finding the Perfect Yoga Studio
Choose Your Yoga Style
Do you know that there are nearly two dozen types of yoga that are commonly practiced? Some of the most famous forms of yoga in the US include
Hatha Yoga. Yoga of this kind is readily suited for the beginners because it is gentle, slow and good for those who prefer a relaxed style, where they can hold the poses longer.
Iyengar Yoga. The trademark of Iyengar yoga is the use of props, such as belts, blocks, bolsters, blankets and chairs. In a typical Iyengar class, you have to pay close attention to the musculoskeletal alignment within each asana.
Bikram Yoga. This form of yoga consists copyrighted 26 postures and two breathing techniques in the same order. The classes usually take 90 minutes, and you have to perform the yoga in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or 40.6 degree Celsius with a humidity of 40%.
Ashtanga Yoga. Known as the hardcore yoga it is typically fast-paced, vigorous and physically challenging. There are six series in total. It becomes more difficult as you increase in order. Ashtanga is like a weight lifting course where the primary focus is on strength building and endurance.
Choose Your Goals
Are you interested in finding inner peace or minimizing stress levels, or are you interested in burning calories? Discuss your goals with your yoga instructor when you first visit the studio. Your instructor may help you to narrow down the choices and let you know whether the studio is for you.
Let’s say that you’re pregnant, and your goal is to get help in breathing and relaxation techniques. You may want to adjust to the physical demands of pregnancy and labor. It is best for you to choose a yoga studio with a prenatal class that focuses specifically on your goals.
Feel Out the Different Studios
Before you commit to a studio, it’s best to get a feel for your options in person. Drop in for an introductory class. You can just stop by and talk to the people hanging around. Some yoga studios may allow you to sit in class.
Most studios will allow you to stop by and chat with the owners and the instructors. It would be wise if you sample many studios, styles and trainers and zero in on the perfect one for you. You can ideally check these three things.
Location and Price
Check out whether the yoga studio is within easy reach, and the cost is reasonable. This point may sound like a no-brainer but regularly attending yoga classes is essential. If your yoga studio is in an inconvenient location or the cost too high, then you’ll find it difficult to establish a daily yoga habit.
Studios, where a coffee shop attached, are more social. And studios, with short lunch hour classes, are more business-like. So think about your preference, whether you want to chat with people from your class, or just drop in practice your yoga session and then leave.
Joining a yoga studio will be beneficial if you want to learn about meditation, nutrition, bodywork and natural health. Are you comfortable knowing about the spiritual connection associated with yoga? Some instructors will only teach you the asanas, while others may include chanting and reflections on ancient yogic texts. So if you’re concerned about your religious practices, it would be better for you to learn only the asanas.
Check out whether your studio offers a broad range of courses because as your practice grows you’ll want to do more challenging asanas. At that point of time, it would be a waste to start your search from scratch.
Yoga and Spirituality
Yoga is not just an exercise methodology, but it encompasses a holistic system with roots in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. These traditions govern ethics, self-discipline, faith, behavior, awareness, breathing and meditation.
In short yoga is a holistic package for a happy living. According to David Gordon White, the core principals of yoga include:
- Discovering dysfunctional cognition and perception and overcoming it to attain inner peace and salvation. This principle is detailed in the Hindu text, Bhagavad Gita.
- Raising and expanding the consciousness from oneself to being coextensive with everyone and everything.
- Acts as a path to enlightened consciousness.
- Yoga as a technique to enter into other bodies and attaining other forms of supernatural accomplishments. White points out that, the last principle is related to traditional beliefs rather than the realistic goals of yoga practice.
All these might sound heavy, but people gather in these studios to discuss spirituality. So, have a clear plan whether it would affect your religious sentiments and make an informed decision.
Choose an Instructor You Connect With
Sometimes trusting your gut feeling and your instincts proves beneficial. At the first impression, if you feel related to the yoga instructor then choose that yoga studio. Check whether the instructor teaches what you’re looking for.
The perfect teacher would be the one that guides you along your journey. Make sure whether the yoga instructor is approachable and clears your doubt before and after the class.
Yoga is a continuous process, the more you learn, the more that is yet to learn. Enquire your instructor where he got his yoga training and with whom he studied. Ask whether he is still continuing his training.
Expert yoga instructors advise you to look for teachers who challenges you; they should meet you where you are and not where you want to be. Find an instructor with whom you can be yourself, feel free, comfortable and safe.
Another sign of a great teacher is that he or she should encourage you to practice yoga outside of class. The teacher should give you all necessary guidance to carry on self-study and practice.
Start with a Beginner’s Class
Even if you have some experience with yoga, it doesn’t mean that you have experience attending the yoga class. It is always best to start with the beginner class writes Kaitlyn Moore in Greatest.
For the best classroom experience, come a few minutes earlier and have a chat with the teacher. Let your instructor know about any health conditions that you may have. So it will help them to modify the poses throughout the class.
Choosing the best yoga class is up to you. Think how you are feeling about the class. Do you think that the level is manageable, or do you feel lost? It is perfectly okay if you want to go to a beginner class time to time, even though you have advanced to the intermediate level.
It would be useful if you can go along with some friends; they’ll encourage you to stick to your yoga routine. Research studies say that finding a new exercise companion increases the duration of your exercise routine. If your workout partner is emotionally supportive, then your task performance improves even more. I think the same finding can be applied to your yoga classes.
Do keep in mind that the atmosphere of a group class can make you push yourself harder than you would at home.
Things You Should Know Before Your First Yoga Class
When you’re new, the scene at a yoga studio you may make you feel a bit nervous. These tips will help you feel prepared, comfortable and confident.
Avoid taking a yoga class on a full stomach. Experts advise you to eat an hour before practice. But if can’t do it then at least have a banana no less than 20 minutes before class.
Arrive 10 minutes early to the studio; it will be helpful if you need to fill any paperwork or ask about any introductory discounts for new students. Bring along with you a yoga mat, or ask whether the studio will rent one for the new students.
Grab the props such as a strap, block, and a blanket. Straps and blocks give you extra room for a twist. The sheet will make all your seated postures comfortable.
There may be some Sanskrit chanting at the beginning and end of a class. If you’re not comfortable, then there’s no pressure to take part. If you’re interested in trying just, keep up with the class.
Let go of the stress and tension of your body, the more you release them, the easier each pose would be. Pay attention to your breathing, if your mind wanders you can lengthen your inhales and exhales.
If you don’t understand a pose or aren’t ready to try, don’t be afraid to take rest in a gentle child’s pose. This action will help you to Zen out and tune into your body’s needs.
Move at your teacher’s pace and trust their choices and do your best to stay on track with your class. Some instructors will be more hands on than others. If you’re not comfortable with touching and adjustments, you can tell your instructor it isn’t working for you.
Make a list of the convenient studios and select the one that is close enough and cheap. Try beginner classes with a few teachers and choose the instructor with whom you’re comfortable. Show up early, talk to your teacher and make some new friends.
The most important thing when you select a yoga studio is that you should feel comfortable there. You should never feel judged about your body, technical ability or clothes. If you’re feeling uncomfortable for any reason, you should try a new studio.
If there are no studios nearby Google Help are a great option. You can virtually connect with a yoga instructor on a one on one section using Google hangouts. If you have specialized needs such as a serious injury, then a help out will be better than a large group because you’ll have the teacher’s individual attention. Practice yoga with no preconceived notions and this will result in your best experience possible.
What do you think?