Yoga What Is It?

Yoga has been around for thousands of years but can still be shrouded in mystery.  Questions often asked about yoga include:  Is it a religion?  Can only certain people practice yoga?  Do you have to already be fit and flexible to practice yoga?  The answer to all three questions here is definitely NO!

People can practice yoga whether they have a specific faith or not because yoga is not a religion.  Yoga practice is also open to all individuals and you certainly don't have to be strong, fit and flexible to begin.  These three areas will develop as you continue with your practice.

Many new people are discouraged from starting any yoga practice due to the portrayal of yoga by the media.  We often see images of extremely young, slim and bendy individuals doing impressive and challenging yoga poses.  Here at Take Me To Health we will show you how anyone can try the poses and that you work to your own ability and range of movement.  We will be using willing volunteers from our current yoga classes to show how poses can look different when done by people with differing abilities.  We want everyone to feel comfortable with their yoga journey - after all, the word yoga means to join or unite.

The aim of yoga is to stimulate the connection between the mind and the body.  In traditional yoga there are eight limbs.  These are:
  1. Yama - abstinence
  2. Niyama - observance
  3. Asana - poses
  4. Pranayama - breath control
  5. Pratyahara - sense withdrawal
  6. Dharana - concentration
  7. Dhyana - meditation
  8. Samadhi - subconscious state - enlightenment
Most yoga practice in the Western world concentrates on three of these limbs, which are:  poses, breath control and meditation.

Regular yoga practice gives many health benefits including:
  • Posture improvement
  • Better balance
  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased muscle strengthening
  • Increased muscle endurance
  • Developed muscle tone
  • Extra joint lubrication therefore a reduction in joint pain
The practice is also linked to improvements in certain health conditions including:
  • Reduced digestive problems
  • Asthma improvement
  • Reduced symptoms of depression
  • Protects against osteoporosis
  • Helps to reduce high blood pressure
  • Improved circulation
Yoga will also help to develop a better level of body awareness, increased breath control and lung function, better mind focus, increased level of self control, better relaxation skills, increased will power, raised metabolism and a reduction of stress levels.

However, with all new exercise programmes, it is advisable to check with your G.P. prior to starting with your practice, especially when any medical conditions are present.

Remember, there are many different styles of yoga as well as different yoga teachers, if you try one style/class and don't like it - don't give up.....try another...…  the next one might just be for you.