A complete System for Health of Body, Heart and Mind
Yoga is a complete and holistic system for health and wellbeing. Regular practice brings awareness not only to the body- how you move, sit, stand and breathe- but it also focuses your mind, letting you learn how to relax.
Whether you are new to yoga or a seasoned stretcher it’s helpful to approach each session without preconceptions- what is known as keeping a ‘beginners mind’. It creates a sense of possibility and playfulness and helps you to be mindful of the present activity. There is lots to be discovered through all the different aspects of yoga- postures, breathing, philosophy and literature. You can take as much or as little as you want, do what feels right for you, slowly developing the ability to trust your intuition and become your own teacher.
Aspects of yoga typically practiced in class…
Asanas are physical postures that are approached with concentration and awareness. They aim to bring balance to the body by moving it in it’s full range of motion, gaining both flexibility and strength. This develops over time with a regular practice and a bit of patience! It helps to have a steady yet lighthearted attitude whilst practicing yoga and to move with your breath; connecting body and mind and making it a form of moving meditation.
Postures can flow together in a sequence, known as Vinyasa, or can be held for several rounds of breath which is a little more of a challenge and a well balanced class will move the spine in all directions- forward, backwards, side to side, twist and lengthen. Yoga postures not only tone the outside of your body, they also stimulate the internal organs and revitalise the nervous system.
For a beginners guide Asana check out the little vids by Yoga with Adriene – Foundations of Yoga
Yogic breathing or pranayama is the fourth limb of the eight fold path of yoga. Prana means life force, energy, vitality, breath. It is known as Chi or Qi in Chinese practices which also mean energy. Energy is designed to flow and by practicing specific breathing techniques and exercises one can eliminate blockages in the body and bring about a balanced and healthy system that has been refreshed and rejuvenated. Yogic breathing calms and quietens the mind, strengthens the immune system, improves concentration, increases the capacity of the lungs and improves blood circulation.
You can find out more about the different practices here
Relaxation is an important element of yoga. It’s purpose is to bring stillness to the body and mind and is a very useful skill to learn. Relaxation calms and refreshes you in equal measure, it can increase creativity, lower blood pressure, invigorates nerve cells, helps to increase blood supply and bring oxygen and nutrients to vital organs. Once you have practiced relaxation regularly you will find it easier to apply it in your everyday life, helping you to cope with the day to day stresses of modern living.
There are many styles of guided relaxation. One I use regularly is Yoga Nidra or a body scan. If you want to practice this at home there are many free videos online, a favourite of mine is this 10 minute one on youtube – Yoga Nidra