Well, yoga can mean very different things to different people. It all depends on who you ask! In literal terms, the word yoga derives from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘to yoke’ or ‘to join’ and simply refers to the principle of connecting the mind, the body and the breath.
Traditionally yoga has been used as a way of life, a pathway to self-enlightenment, with the physical act of yoga being just one element of the practice. However in the West yoga is primarily used as a fantastic form of physical exercise, and is considered to be one of the only forms of exercise able to simultaneously tackle the stresses of both the body and the mind.
It’s no real secret that yoga can aid flexibility and improve your stress-levels, but there are so many additional benefits to be had from a regular practice…
- Improved flexibility
- Increased muscle tone and strength
- Aiding weight management
- Detoxifying the body
- Improving spine and joint health
- Encouraging better posture
- Healing former joint or spine injuries
- Improving circulation
- Managing feelings of stress and anxiety
- Promoting better sleep
- Encouraging relaxation
- Discovering an inner calm
You don’t need to be 21, a size 8 and able to bend yourself in to a pretzel to benefit from yoga. And on the flipside there is so much more to yoga than simply sitting cross-legged and chanting. A good yoga class will have you bending, stretching, twisting, contracting, releasing, strengthening and most importantly…breathing. A good yoga teacher is able to understand your individual needs as a student and modify your practice accordingly.
The truth is that yoga really does suit any age, gender, body shape or fitness level, and with regular practice and a little guidance from your teacher, you’ll be able to form your very own yoga practice to suit both your physical and psychological needs.
Scroll down to discover some of the different styles of yoga Susie teaches…
When first starting out on your journey in yoga, all the breathing, stretching, aligning and moving can seem a little bit intimidating. Beginners yoga classes start from the very beginning, teaching you all about breath control whilst slowly guiding you through different asana (poses). Greater explanation will be given during your practice to explain the hows and whys of a given pose or sequence. That’s not to say its easy…beginners classes have an emphasis on building strength in the body and you’re guaranteed to discover muscles you never knew existed! These classes provide a safe and supportive environment for you to build up your confidence and strength before trying out some of the other classes on the schedule.
The term ‘vinyasa’ is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘to synchronize movement with breath’ and in a vinyasa flow class you will be guided through series of postures using your breath as your guide. Vinyasa movements are fluid, smooth and free-flowing, with each movement assigned to an inhale or exhale. The aim is to build up an internal heat in your body and create a dance-like sequence. Vinyasa flow is physically challenging and deeply meditative, fantastic for aiding flexibility and building strength in the body. It’s a great class for anyone seeking an all-over mind body workout.
A hot yoga class is just that…hot! It is typically practiced in a very hot and humid temperature, up to around 42 degrees. The concept was created by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s as a way to replicate the conditions of hot, humid India. The benefits of practicing hot yoga include increased flexibility, detoxification of the body and healing former injuries, all whilst creating a dynamic cardio workout. The original Bikram sequence contains a set series of 26 postures, however many variations of the original sequence now exist, including Absolute 50, the series Susie trained in.
Yin yoga is inspired by ancient Taoist tradition of yin/yang theory and focuses on passive, seated postures that target deep in to the connective tissues in the major joints of the body. Poses are typically held for 3 – 5 minutes but can be held anything up to 20 minutes. The aim is to increase the health and flexibility of the joints of the body, whilst creating a feeling of release. Yin yoga is also a fantastic way to study the basics of mindfulness meditation and quieting the mind. It is the perfect complement to more dynamic forms of yoga.