The word yoga can be translated as “union” or “yoking together”. The goal of yoga is to bring body, mind, and soul into harmony by focusing on the present moment without judgment or reaction. It is a way of life that includes postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. Yoga can be practiced in many different ways, such as Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Yin. There are many benefits to practicing yoga and one of them being that it can help you to feel more relaxed and at peace with yourself. Yoga can also help you to improve your mental health, increase your flexibility, improve your posture, and reduce back pain. It truely is ‘A journey of the self to the self through the self’ (Bagavad Gita.) Read this guide to yoga to see which styles you would like to explore further and be fully prepared for what to wear and bring when you attend or give a class a go online,
Getting Started with Yoga
Yoga can be practiced on the floor or on a mat. A mat is not necessary but if you want more padding for your knees and elbows then you might want to invest in one. Some people like using blocks under their hands when doing poses that require them to push up from the floor such as downward dog or plank pose. Yoga blocks can also be used under your feet when doing standing poses like warrior two or triangle pose so that your balance is better.
Wear comfortable clothes you can move freely in and feel confident in and bring a bottle of water and a blanket and cushions, even an eye mask for savasana.
If you are new to yoga a beginner’s course is a great way to get your confidence up and try it out in a really encouraging and safe space. Beginners courses can be a great place to make friends and see if you like the style of teaching and the person teaching the class.
For beginners in the North wales area, specifically Flintshire and Denbighshire, There will be a 4-week beginner yoga course starting. We will go through all the postures in the modified ashtanga series, learn how to use props, breathwork and meditation such as ujjayi breathing and mindfulness body scan. Register your interest here: https://www.hiddenlotusyoga.com/contact/
A Guide to Yoga Styles
There are many different types of Yoga, all of which are unique in some ways and similar in others, they each have their own benefits and pulls for practising. As a guide to yoga, here are some of the most common styles of yoga you may find here in the yoga:
Hatha Yoga is a type of Yoga that focuses on breathing techniques, postures, and meditation. It’s a great way to get in touch with your body and mind while building strength and flexibility. The word Hatha comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “forceful” or “strong.” Hatha Yoga is a form of yoga that emphasizes physical exercises, breathing techniques and meditation. The physical aspect of hatha yoga includes postures, which are body movements that stretch and strengthen muscles and stimulate the nervous system. The breathing techniques include pranayama or breath control.
The goal of hatha yoga is to balance the body’s energy by stimulating the nervous system with both gentle movement and deep breathing.
Bikram Yoga is a type of Hot Yoga that is done in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius. This type of yoga can help you burn up to 900 calories per session! It also helps with weight loss by increasing the metabolism rate which means more calories burned throughout the day.
Vinyasa means “to place in a special way” and it is used to describe the movement of the body in a yoga class. Vinyasa yoga is an ancient style of yoga that focuses on synchronizing breath with movement. TT Krishnamacharya was the father of this style of yoga and it was developed by K. Pattabhi Jois, who combined asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises) with the traditional practice of āsana (posture).
It is a type of yoga that involves synchronizing breath with movement. It is a dynamic style of yoga that focuses on fluid movements. The word vinyasa means “to place in a special way” and the word asana means “posture”. So together, they mean the flowing postures of this type of yoga.
There are three main types of vinyasa:
1) Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
2) Ashtanga Yoga
3) Vinyasa Krama (sequential linking postures).
This practice is very popular among people who are looking for a way to connect with their inner self. The word vinyasa means “breath” and “flow”. This is a form of yoga that offers a balance between physical exercise and spiritual practice.
Ashtanga yoga is a type of yoga that consists of six different series. The six series are called: Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, Advanced B, Yoga Chikitsa and Yoga Sutra.
The primary series is the most basic and serves as a foundation for the other series. This series includes postures that are generally done on the floor or wall. The intermediate series has more challenging poses than in the primary series such as balancing poses and backbends. Advanced A has postures that are even more difficult than those in the intermediate series such as headstands and handstands. Advanced B is similar to Advanced A but with more difficult poses like arm balances and advanced backbends. Yoga Chikitsa is a set of postures designed to heal various ailments such as asthma or arthritis while Yoga Sutra focuses on standing poses with an emphasis on balance and strength.
Yin yoga is an ancient practice that focuses on the connective tissues of the body. It helps to balance the energy in the body to help prevent injuries and improve strength, flexibility, and mental clarity.
The aim of yin yoga is to stretch and lengthen the connective tissues and fascia. This type of yoga is slow-paced, and it consists mainly of poses that are held for a long time. In contrast, other types of yoga such as ashtanga or vinyasa are fast-paced with poses that are done in sequence.
Yin Yoga requires a lot more patience than other types of yoga because it can take between three and five minutes for each pose to be completed. The benefits of yin yoga come from the long holds in poses; these longer holds can help people who suffer from chronic pain or injury to heal their bodies more quickly and effectively. It has been seen as an alternative to more rigorous forms of exercise like jogging or weight training which may not be suitable for people with certain health conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis.
The main goal of yin yoga is to cultivate awareness about your body through slow-paced movements that focus on deep stretching and compression. It is a great class to balance out a more yang heavy practise but also as a relaxing and releasing class when you feel called to it.
Iyengar is known as a system of yoga poses designed to strengthen and stretch the body with a strong focus on alignment! The founder of this yoga – BKS Iynegar has written many books on the subject, some of which have been translated into English. , including “Light on Yoga” and “Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health”.Born in Mysore, India, Iyengar began his yoga career as a student of Krishnamacharya’s from the age of 14.
Iyengar’s main 3 strands are:
- A strong emphasis on precision – seeking structural alignment in each pose.
- A set sequence in which asana are taught and practised.
- Encouraged use of props throughout the practise.
Kundalini Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “kundal” which means “coiled up” or “coiling like a snake”. It is also called “serpent power”.
The Kundalini system consists of seven major chakras, or energy centres, in ascending order, from Muladhara to Sahasrara. When awakened, kundalini energy flows up these seven chakras and activates them.
Kundalini yoga is a form of yoga that aims to awaken kundalini energy in order to bring self-realization and spiritual enlightenment. It was developed by Yogi Bhajan who learned it from his guru (teacher), Guru Ram Das.
Tantra yoga is a form of yoga that focuses on the body, mind and spirit. It is a practice that aims to unite the individual with their true self and to achieve spiritual enlightenment.
It has many different forms, but most tantra yoga classes will focus on breathing, meditation and asana (yoga poses).
Pranayama – breathwork in yoga
Pranayama is one of the eight limbs of yoga which focuses on breath control. It has many benefits including controlling the mind, healing diseases like asthma or diabetes, reducing stress levels, improving concentration and memory power and increasing energy levels. It also helps in achieving weight loss goals by reducing hunger pangs.
The Ujjayi breathing technique is one of the most important breathing techniques in yoga. It is a type of breathing that is done through the nose, with the mouth closed. The exhale and inhale are both active and audible.
The Ujjayi breath can be done in any position, but it is most commonly used while sitting or standing upright. The breath has three steps: inhalation, retention, and exhalation. Inhalation fills the lungs to capacity, retention keeps air in the lungs for a short time before letting it out, and exhalation releases air from the lungs completely.
This technique helps to calm the mind and body by slowing down your heart rate and reducing anxiety levels. It also increases blood flow to your brain which boosts cognitive function.
We use this breath during our ashtanga practise as it helps to calm the breath and extend further into poses.
Savasana is the final pose in yoga practice, and it is one of the most important poses for relaxation. It can be translated to “corpse pose”.
The purpose of this pose is to help your body and mind relax after a long yoga practice. You should also do this at the end of your day to help you sleep better.
In savasana, your legs are relaxed to the bottom corners of your mat and hands are placed on either side of your body with palms facing up. You can use a blanket for extra comfort if needed.
Savasana is a great way to end a yoga session, but it can also be done any time you need some relaxation in your life!
Sometimes during savasana, the teacher may guide you through a meditation or breathwork session. A common practise is to go through a mindfulness body scan before savasana.
Mindfulness body scan
A mindfulness body scan is a technique that requires the person to focus on various parts of their body, one at a time, and notice how it feels. This can be done by either sitting or lying down and scanning your body from head to toe.
This technique is often used as a way to practice mindfulness or meditation. It can also be used as a way to deal with pain or discomfort, such as anxiety, stress, or physical pain. If you are looking for a more in-depth journey into mindfulness why not try an MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course which aims to give an understanding of mindfulness and our brain along with formal and informal techniques.
Now you know what to expect in a yoga class and what each style is like, get your mat rolled out and dive into a practise whether it is online at home, by booking. a beginner’s course or signing up for a class. You won’t regret it and who knows where it will lead!?
If you would like to try out Ashtanga Yoga, I teach a modified Ashtanga in Mold Rugby Club every Thursday night from 7-8 pm, there is a strong focus on finding your own edges, listening to your body and using props and adjustments to guide you through the set sequences. Classes can be booked here: https://www.hiddenlotusyoga.com/classes/ or subscribe to the mailing list below to be the first to hear about all the latest events, pop-ups and workshops.