Yoga is an ancient knowledge and a physical activity that has been gaining popularity in recent years. However, yoga is different from any other physical activity. It is not only targeting to develop your physical fitness and health but is also targeting to unite the mind, the body and the soul – which I personally, alongside many other yogis, aim to achieve. Perhaps the best way to explain this target is to look at the origin of the word ‘yoga’. Its origin comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’, which means unity or being one.
Today yoga is more in the forefront of physical practice (asana) for stretching and strengthening the muscles but it is also a set of discipline, verbal and behavioural approach and last but definitely not least meditation, with the ultimate goal of it being to understand the meaning of truth. Among the various yoga types, eventually, all have the same goal. Hatha, ashtanga, Iyengar, yin, restorative, kundalini, and hot yoga are some of the most practised yoga types today. The yoga practice usually is around 1 or 1.5-hour sessions, aimed at maintaining the order of energy flow by stretching and relaxing the muscles while remaining within the pose of the varieties. Breathing exercises and meditation are also performed before the end of the session.
One of the responses I hear in my classes is “I’m not a flexible person”. However, there is no need to be flexible and strong to do yoga. Everyone, no matter what their age is or what type of body they have, can practise and benefit from yoga. You can try and decide which yoga type is good for you at the beginning level. During the yoga practise mind focuses on the body, enabling you to create a space between your mind and yourself. This awareness helps you to observe your thoughts without any judgement or fixation. People’s minds always tend to think about themselves, but minds are fickle. They vary according to your mood, your challenges and your expectations. Therefore at the end of the day, you may find yourself slaved by your unhappy and intolerable feelings, getting lost within your emotions and swinging between the past and the future.
I have been teaching both hatha and yin yoga for more than 6 years. In my understanding, yoga is a lifestyle and a journey to your true self and I would love to share this journey with anyone who is also taking this path in his or her life. I have been working in marketing communications for a long time and spending most of my days in an environment which is very competitive, stressful and focused purely on success which sometimes makes me feel spiritually and mentally captured. When I discovered and started to do yoga, it made me realise that another way of life is possible, and it is much more rewarding for me both in a spiritual and mental sense. Also, multiple studies have confirmed various mental and physical benefits of yoga. Yoga helps to decrease stress, may reduce inflammation, could improve heart health, could improve breathing, could promote sleep quality, promotes healthy eating habits and definitely improves the quality of life.*
A humble recommendation to all of you; add one more thing to your New Year’s resolutions. “Do yourself a favour and give yoga a chance in your life this year.”
*Us National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654