What is Yoga?
Yoga has become a very popular exercise trend in the last few years. Many people are confused by what yoga actually is. There are two main mind sets when it comes to yoga. It can be a form of exercise or a lifestyle. I will not go into the lifestyle of yoga but discuss the exercises and some of the benefits of practicing yoga on a regular basis.
Yoga is about holding a position and focusing the breathing. It increases flexibility, strength and bodily awareness.
Here are some tidbits of information that make yoga what it is.
Stage by stage relaxation:
- Lie flat on your back in corpse position (body flat against the floor with legs slightly wider than your hips and your hands slightly away from your body with your palms facing up).
- Observe breathing, without controlling it for a few minutes.
- Make 2 deep breaths expanding and contracting the abdomen – relax the abdomen after.
- Observe breathing again. When the breath becomes slow and even, start to look for tension in your body, and let it go, so the muscles can rest with their full weight. Note the sensation of tension and then its absence. Work your way up the body starting at the feet and up to your head.
- Observe breathing again for 1-2 minutes and then repeat the sequence of letting go with the muscles from feet to scalp. Repeat for as long as you have (15-30 min is ideal). By the end the body should be tension free and the mind at peace.
Our breathing is considered faulty because we, for the most part, take shallow, high chested breaths. It is generally brought on by social pressures and tension. By doing this we are not using our body they way we were meant to and the way we did as children. The proper breathing can be re-learned.
The 4 stages of breathing:
- Inhalation: a continuous process that is evenly controlled
- A pause: holding the air in the inflated lungs
- Exhalation: a smooth continuous process, letting the air go from the inflated lungs, the expansion of the thoracic region, the pressing down of the diaphragm
- A pause: holding the “empty” lung position in an effortless suspension; at the end of this the air is starting to flow through the nostrils again
The rewarding practices of yoga posturing are: the gradual suppleness of the spine, the joints move more freely, the hamstrings lengthen and loosen, the legs fold and the knees spread without discomfort.
Here is a great website to help you get started on your yoga practice.
If you have never done yoga before, you may want to go to a class to make sure that you’re doing all of the postures correctly and getting the full benefit of each exercise. If you are not interested in the meditation portion of the exercises, there are classes that offer just the exercises or you may want to get a DVD so you can pick and choose what you’re comfortable doing. Hopefully at the end of your yoga class you’ll feel stronger, more flexible and relaxed.