Yoga: The benefits of Yoga for your Body & Mind…

Hi everyone,

Today I wanted to take some time to talk about a wonderful form of exercise that I love…Yoga!

Yoga is something that holds a special place in my heart, though I haven’t been as dedicated to it as I once was, lately I have felt that I need to start practicing yoga again on a regular basis. Whilst I do enjoy the gym, and how great I feel after lifting weights. My heart really does belong to yoga. I think many people either associate yoga as being a ‘trendy’ exercise or not even exercise at all. But yoga is not just a passing trend, it has been around for centuries, and quite frankly after an hour-long hot yoga class, you would soon change your mind about whether it is exercise or not.

So why do yoga?

There are many benefits to practicing yoga on a regular basis, it is great for your whole body. Yoga is very much about relaxation and strength, it brings balance to your body and mind. Not only this, but through the poses you will increase your flexibility, tone your whole body and another great reason to practice yoga, is the core strength you will get from it as well. You won’t be able to do a head stand after one class, but with yoga you will find that you progress fast, and the more you do it the more you want to carry on! There are times when we could all use a break from life, and our own thoughts, yoga helps to switch off your mind and focus on yourself. Whether it is for an hour-long class, a short sun salutation in the morning or a few minutes to wind down before bed. There is never a bad time to do yoga, and there isn’t a limit of how much you should do. It is really important however not to push yourself, there will always be someone a little more flexible, someone who can hold that pose a little longer, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get there as well.

Photo credit- Your yoga studio – I do not own this image. http://assets.youryogastudio.co.uk/library/original/jpg/3/dsc_5970-edit-edit.89ffead77167cb5bbf92efabe99bef85.1407878378.jpg

What type of yoga should you do?

There are different forms of yoga you can try, there are many classes that cater to all levels as well. It really depends on where you want to start but below is a basic summary of the different types of yoga you can practice. (That’s not to say you can’t try more than one).

Ashtanga

Ashtanga yoga combines fast paced cardio with strength training. This form of yoga can be quite demanding, but you will certainly feel the benefits after a class.

Vinyasa

This form of yoga is known for the fluid movements involved, switching between poses and therefore raising your heart rate. This is a yoga to try if you would enjoy a more cardio based yoga practice.

Hatha

Hatha is what you will usually find in most yoga DVD’s and a lot of classes offered. It has a large focus on the physical poses. Hatha yoga is quite traditional in its approach, quite gentle and has a focus on your breathing throughout and not just the poses you do.

Vinyasa

This form of yoga is known for the fluid movements involved, switching between poses and therefore raising your heart rate. This is a yoga to try if you would enjoy a more cardio based yoga practice.

Bikram

Bikram yoga is a form of hot yoga, this consists of a never-changing, 26-pose sequence in sauna like room.

This is not all forms of yoga, but the common ones you will find offered. I personally like Hatha and Bikram.

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(Photo credit- Karena & Katrina instagram- I had to include my Tone it up trainers)

Those who are fully committed to practicing yoga often practice other parts of the ‘Yogi’ lifestyle. This means that all aspects of you life should be about balance, you should eat a well-balanced and natural diet as much as possible and the way you treat others and other living beings should be with kindness. This in itself is a great message, and whether you choose to adopt all aspects of the Yogi lifestyle or not, I believe everyone should try yoga at least once. I fell in love with hot yoga after trying out a local class in Liverpool city centre. From the minute you walk in you feel like you are stepping into another world. Everyone must take their shoes off and you must switch off your mobile once in class. I expected the heat to be a little daunting, but it feels like you’re in a spa almost. Yes you do sweat, but at the same time you are focused on what you are doing and not the other people around you. No one in a yoga class is there to judge you on how flexible you are or how many times a week you practice, they are their for themselves and its great to be in that environment

Lately I have debated about quitting my current gym membership in order to explore a variety of exercises. There are many ways to stay fit and healthy. During my time in Edinburgh we did a lot of walking, and let me tell you, we were so tired after that! Walking/ Hiking is a great form of exercise. I think we often feel that unless we are sweating constantly during a workout we are doing something wrong, but as long as you have a balanced diet, exercise should not just be about how many calories you can burn. That’s what I love about the Tone it up plan, they have a weekly schedule that involves the gym, running, swimming and Yoga. It is a mixture of everything that is good for you.

I highly recommend yoga to everyone, whether it is with an at home DVD, a yoga class or even Youtube videos. If you are a beginner I would say going to a few classes would be good to ensure that you are doing things correctly. Watching a teacher guide you through is so helpful, and I do think you progress quicker from that. No one wants to end up with a bad back, or neck from rushing into a pose.

Love

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xx

* Anyone in Liverpool, I highly recommend Your yoga studio. It is a wonderful studio and very welcoming.