Yoga is a combination of physical, mental and spiritual disciplines. It is believed that practicing yoga brings about perfect harmony between body, mind and nature. It has no connection to any religion and is safe almost for all ages.
Yoga comes from Rig Veda and later it was restructured and developed by Brahmin priests and sages. They then put it in manuscript form in Upanishads. Around the world yoga is most popular as fitness exercise.
Types of yoga
There are various forms of yoga namely Patanjali, Hath, Tantra, Vinyasa, Bikram, Asthanga, Iyengar, Kundalini, Jivmukti yogaand many more.
- Patanjali yoga - Patanjali first put together the ideas, beliefs and techniques. It illustrates Raj yoga. In this eight limbed path the way to reach the enlightenment or the samaadhiavastha is described.
- Hatha yoga - The emphasis of this yoga is breathing and calming down the mind by correct breathing and postures. In this there are relaxation techniques also.
- Vinyasa yoga - It is more fitness oriented and of faster pace. In this, there are several athletic postures. Every movement is synchronized with breath.This is physically demanding type of yoga. In this, there is no holding of posture. One has to quickly move from one pose to other. In this the heart rate gets a push.
- Bikram yoga - It is created by BikramChoudhury. In this yoga is done at 41oC and 40% humidity. In this there are 26 basic postures and two breathing exercises. All this needs to be done twice in a time period of 40 minutes. The heat causes excessive sweating and toxins are thrown out and exercise brings about oxygenated blood circulation to the body. In this, lots of fluid intake is required to replenish fluid loss.
- Ashtanga yoga - It is series of yoga postures which go on increasing in terms of difficulty. This is not for beginners or for those who are not in great physical condition. In this there are suryanamaskar and standing and floor postures. In every class there are six series of postures and they have to be repeated. This is also called as power yoga.
- Ayangar yoga - This involves holding the breath for certain duration in each pose. It is for correct alignment of the body and perfect movements. It helps in healing injuries and joint problems. For perfect alignment props may be used like traps, blankets and blocks. This enhances flexibility, stability, strength, and mobility.
- Kundalini yoga - It is form of yoga which is physically and mentally challenging.In this there is meditation, mudras, breathing exercises, and chanting. There are fast moving postures with period of relaxation. This type of yoga is for releasing kundalini energy that is twisted in lower spine.
- Kripalu yoga - In this there are less asanas and more of pranayama, deep relaxation, meditation and self-reflection. This is to relieve physical and mental stress, better health and self-awareness.
- Jivamukhi yoga - If one wants to have spiritual experience then this is the yoga to be followed. In this apart from postures there is chanting, meditation, pranayama and deep relaxation.
Yin yoga, prenatal yoga, restorative yoga, hot yoga, goat yoga, dog yoga, naked yoga, anti-gravity yoga, beer yoga, and cannabis yoga are some more types of yoga exercises.
Benefits of yoga
- Body flexibility: If joints and muscles have become stiff, yoga helps in making them loose. It takes place gradually. Yoga also improves flexibility and help in reducing aches and joint pain.
- Muscle strength: Yoga makes body flexible and at the same time strengthens muscles.
- Posture improvement: Yoga asanas help in maintaining normal curves of the spine and thus help in improving posture.
- Prevention of breakdown of cartilage and joint: In yoga asanas joints undergo full range of motion. Thus, all the parts get used and thus degenerative changes get prevented by utilisation of all parts of body including those which are not generally used. During yoga asanas joint fluid gets squeezed out and get replenished by new fluid thus joints get fresh supply of nutrients. Thus wearing out of cartilage is prevented.
- Bone health: In Yoga asanas in many postures body weight needs to be balanced thus bones strengthen by increasing bone density.
- Blood flow: The yoga asanas is a relaxation exercise. This improves blood circulation of the body. It also provides more oxygen to the body tissues. Twisting body positions in the asanas squeeze out blood from deep veins and new oxygenated blood flows thus increase oxygenated blood supply to the organs. Yoga also enhances haemoglobin concentration which ultimately carries oxygen to tissue.
- Immunity: In yoga asanas there are stretchings and contractions that move the organs. This drains the lymphatic system and thus body can fight infections, destroy cancerous cells, and cellular metabolic waste can be moved out well.
- Heart rate: Yoga brings down heart rate. During exercise it enhances the oxygen intake. Pranayama is helpful in consuming less oxygen while doing more exercise. When the intensity of asanas increases they become aerobic exercises which reduce the risk of heart attack.
- Relaxation: Slow breathing and focus on present are practiced in yoga. This moves balance to parasympathetic nervous system from sympathetic nervous system. This is healing and soothing. This reduces breathing and brings down heart rate. Also it brings down blood pressure and improved blood supply to reproductive organs and intestines.
Persons who should talk to their doctor before going for yoga include
- Pregnant ladies
- Patients of hypertension, sciatica or glaucoma
It is not recommended to manage a condition with yoga. Neither conventional care should be replaced by yoga nor consultation with healthcare provider for pain or other health related problems.
Yoga is an activity that strengthens bones and muscles, improves flexibility, orients the thoughts and relaxes body and mind. It is safe if the instructor is well trained. Cases of injury due to yoga practice are very very rare.