When you go to the gym there are two ways of approaching your work-out: you can throw yourself into the activity, pump out the repetitions, hoist up the weights and work your body to near exhaustion; or you can take a cerebral approach, listening to your body, responding to its needs and concentrating upon the impact you are having on your muscles.
This in effect, is the difference between pure physical exercise and the more concentrated movement associated with Yoga.
Remember both intense physical workouts and calmer but equally intense Yoga workouts are great ways of staying fit and healthy. There should be a place for both in your fitness regime.
Let’s take a closer look at Yoga
While there are more than 100 different types, or schools, of yoga, most sessions typically include breathing exercises, meditation, and assuming postures (sometimes called asana or poses) that stretch and flex various muscle groups.
The benefits of the activity include increased flexibility, increased muscle tone and strength and higher levels of energy. Yoga can also help weight reductions, cardio health and will help protect against injury.
Yoga for stress management
Aside from the physical benefits, Yoga also helps a person manage stress, which is known to have devastating effects on the body and mind.
Writing in the magazine of the American Osteopathic Association, Dr Natalie Nevins DO, a certified osteopath said: “Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate.
“Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life,” she added.
Incorporating meditation and breathing can help improve a person’s mental well-being. It also helps sharpen a person’s awareness of their own body and this helps early detection of any physical problems, which allows for preventive action.
Frequently asked questions:
How often should I practise yoga?
A weekly class will help you learn the correct techniques. As you start to feel the benefits you may want to add more yoga to your weekly routine. This could comprise one hour session and three/four 15 minute sessions complementing other workouts.
Do I need a high level of fitness?
The extreme positions in which you see the top Yogis is at the far end of the scale! Yoga is an activity that is suitable for just about everyone. You just need to talk to an instructor to find the level that suits you.
Do I need to meditate?
Meditation allows us to kind stillness and peace, essential for mental well-being. This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours chanting, but just a few minutes when you are not hunched over a computer screen, checking in with your i-phone or thinking about work. The answer – no, you don’t need to meditate but, if you can, it is good for your soul.
How do I find a good Yoga teacher?
Personal recommendations are always good, there are a lot of teachers practising in the area so it is worth trying a few and finding one that you like.
Organisations such as the British Wheel of Yoga, Yoga Alliance UK and the independent Yoga Network will also be able to point you in the right direction.
At Kelsey Kerridge, there are regular Yoga classes with fully qualified instructors. Ask in reception for more information or come along to a class and try for yourself.
If the class times are not convenient, try online Yoga programmes at home. There are many free online programmes that will introduce you to Yoga and take you through some structured practices. While you should be careful that you are not pushing yourself without the guidance of an instructor, these programmes can be provide a valuable addition to your regular routine.
One of the best and most popular free online programmes is Yoga with Adriene, where the instructor Adriene Mischler takes you through a simple and safe Yoga programme. The movements are not difficult and Adriene offers guidance throughout. You can select the programme based on length, the area being targeted or the way you are feeling. ‘For when you are feeling angry’, ‘For hips and core’ or ‘A 25-minute practice’.
The beauty of Yoga is that anyone can benefit. Whether you are an elite sports person or a couch potato who is just turning to exercise. Because there are so many different kinds of yoga practices, it is possible for anyone to start.
As Dr. Nevins explains: “The idea is to explore your limits, not strive for some pretzel-like perfection. It is a great way to get in tune with your body and your inner self.