Are you interested in learning about yoga? It's gaining popularity across the globe. You may have some questions about it, and this guide is here to help you learn more and decide if yoga is right for you.
What is yoga?
Part fitness and part meditation, yoga is an ancient Eastern Indian practice rooted in spiritualism. Using positions that involve stretching and concentration, a yoga workout helps you strengthen your body and your mind. In fact, the word "yoga" is Sanskrit for "union," and the poses and breathing are meant to unite the functions of your body and your mind.
Is it exercise or is it a religion?
The type of yoga usually done in the West is "asana," but in the Eastern tradition, asana is just one part -- known as one "limb" -- of yoga. The other limbs incorporate meditation, lifestyle, and morality choices; development of control over the senses; and achievement of bliss. If that sounds like more than you want to get into at first, you don't need to worry. You can focus your yoga practice on any facet of yoga that appeals to you, and you can always add more to your practice if you want.
Are there different types of yoga?
There are many different types of yoga, from slow, stretching styles to serious workouts that rival any aerobics class. There are yoga styles that focus on developing your spiritual side and yoga styles that teach you to bend and twist yourself into knots. Starting with a basic yoga class or a yoga DVD that covers basic movements at a slow pace can be an excellent way to learn more about how you'll want to do yoga.
Why should I do yoga?
Developing your spiritual side and achieving bliss might be your goals, but even if they aren't, there are many other incredible benefits of doing yoga.
Yoga can help correct your posture and ease the strain that may come from sitting at a desk or being on your feet all day.
When your posture improves, you feel taller.
The stretching movements of yoga make you more flexible, so you'll prevent injuries in the future.
You'll have more energy because the movement of yoga helps your body eliminate toxins.
As you unite your body and mind through yoga, you'll become more aware of your physical needs, so you can take care of yourself better.
The deep breathing and the time you spend focusing on yourself will help reduce stress and will sharpen mental clarity.
Will I lose weight by doing yoga?
Because you use your muscles so much in yoga, you will build them, and strong muscles are proven to help lead to some weight loss. If weight loss is your main fitness goal, look for a class or a yoga DVD that will help you reach that goal. Ashtanga yoga features a rapid progression of yoga poses, so the workout turns can be very athletic. Power yoga can be more of a cardiovascular workout, or you may want to try Bikram yoga, also known as "hot yoga." Hot yoga is done in a room with the heat turned up high, so you'll be really working your muscles, sweating out toxins, and helping your body flush out fat.
Can kids do yoga?
Yoga can be an excellent way for kids to get active and start a lifetime of fitness. The skills they learn in yoga can help them with many things, including concentration, stress management, patience, and discipline. Kids love trying the yoga poses, and they're often very flexible because they probably haven't developed bad posture habits yet. Let them try the poses along with you at home or look for yoga classes held just for kids, which are becoming more and more popular.
How do I learn the positions?
When you take a yoga class, you'll have a teacher there to show you the correct way to do the positions and to give you a good order in which to do them. A class can be helpful to keep you motivated to continue your practice, too. Before you commit to one class by buying a set of passes, try out a few. With so many different types of yoga and so many different yoga instructors, you'll want to find what suits you best. If you'd rather try yoga at home, look for a DVD or video. You can shop for one that addresses your concerns, like relaxation, fat burning, or muscle strengthening. Also, a yoga DVD or video can be a more economical choice than a class.