Yoga: Benefits and Different Types of Yoga
Are you looking for a way to get fit that builds strength, flexibility, and muscle, yet can relax the mind and improve your mood and overall well-being at the same time? If so, yoga may be the perfect practice for you. This ancient art from India dates back over 5,000 years, yet today it is one of the most popular forms of exercise for people all over the world. Yoga offers many health benefits to practitioners, including increased strength, balance, and energy, and a decrease in stress, disease, and depression. There are many different types of yoga, so it is easy to find a style to suit any taste.
Health Benefits of Yoga
Studies show that yoga can have an extremely positive effect on the health and well-being of those who practice it on a regular basis. This low-impact form of exercise involves physical poses that stretch the muscles, which relieves tension and pain in the muscles by releasing lactic acid in the joints. The long duration of the poses also helps to build and tone muscles, particularly those in the core area such as the abs and the obliques. Yoga also involves controlled breathing, which increases lung capacity as well as self-awareness of the body. Researchers have found that people who take yoga often experience lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels, as well as an increase in white blood cells, better concentration, and less stress.
Types of Yoga
Hatha is an excellent type of yoga for beginners or those looking for stress relief, as it involves slow-paced and gentle poses, controlled breath work, and meditation. It is a combination of the basic elements of yoga, and a good starting point for those new to the practice.
Vinyasa yoga involves fast-paced poses and synchronized breathing. It is often called ‘flow’ yoga because the movements and the breath flow together in a smooth, continuous motion. This is a great workout for those looking for a more active form of yoga.
Ashtanga is a very intense form of yoga, and best suited to those who have experience with yoga practice. It involves steady breathing and vigorous, continuous poses. It is very good for building muscle strength and tone, and is often called ‘power yoga’ for its physically demanding nature.
Bikram yoga was created by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s in Los Angeles, and has become famous as the original ‘hot yoga’. Practitioners work on a series of 26 poses in a room heated between 95-105 degrees. This helps to relax the muscles, increase flexibility, and detoxify the body through sweating.
Restorative yoga focuses on connecting the body to the mind, and holding gentle postures to restore the energy in the body. Classes may include props such as blankets, ropes, and blocks to align the body and many of the poses are done lying down.
Whether your aim is to release stress and tension after a hard day, focus on aligning the mind and body, or sweating through an intense workout, there is sure to be a style of yoga for you. Yoga not only makes you look and feel good, but it can also help ward off harmful conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression. Those with existing medical conditions should consult a health care professional before starting a yoga program.