What is Yoga – Culture, Body Practice, or a Way of Life?

In recent years, yoga has become popular worldwide, and many new disciplines have developed within the practice. There are many yoga centers and camps where you can learn many things about this mastery, but there are also quite useful e-books and online videos that explain the basics of yoga.

You’ve probably heard about the effectiveness of yoga practice, and you must’ve seen the various ways of practicing it. In this article, you are going to see the 13 most popular types of yoga, as well as their benefits. Get a yoga mat, a water bottle, and goodwill, and let’s get started!
When picking the right outfit for doing sports, we mostly go for baggy tops and comfy shoes. Still, these “rules” can’t be entirely applied to yoga. Yoga is mostly about movements and relaxation, and the clothes we choose for that should be tight and breathable in order to perform the positions flawlessly. Read on and find out what’s the best solution for your studio and class.

Due to its numerous health and mental benefits, yoga is becoming more and more popular these days. It’s practiced equally among men and women, and even children are encouraged to practice it since it can significantly impact their development, posture and condition. Even though practically anyone can do it, yoga is especially convenient for women because it can help them feel better during periods, menopause, and even pregnancy.
The first step of preparing yourself for successful yoga journey is the start. The first class is intimidating for most people, and some of them even get frustrated because they are not able to touch the toes. Still, you shouldn't be worried about that. As soon as you start practicing yoga regularly, you'll begin to notice that your muscles become stronger and more flexible.

What is Yoga – Culture, Body Practice, or a Way of Life?

Yoga is a concept that opens many doors for discussion. People who are devoted to yoga see it as a cult of unity between our mind and the universal mind, which is achieved by performing physical exercise based upon the poses that improve control of the mind and body.

In recent years, yoga has become popular worldwide, and many new disciplines have developed within the practice. There are many yoga centers and camps where you can learn many things about this mastery, but there are also quite useful e-books and online videos that explain the basics of yoga.

Speaking of the handy Internet content, this article will reveal you all the critical stuff about yoga, including its definition, its history, and many other essential facts, such as what does yoga do to make your body feel healthy and relaxed.

What is Yoga?

To explain the yoga definition, we need to start from the question What does yoga mean? In Sanskrit, yoga means to yoke, or to bind, which is the reason why it’s referred to the unity or a method of discipline in the first place.

Even though most people see yoga as a feminine practice, the truth is that the men often devote themselves to this binding activity. They are called yogis, while female practitioners are called yoginis.

According to some yogis and yoginis, yoga is not a system of beliefs, but techniques and guidance for more enriched living. To learn its essence thoughtfully, it's not enough to read the studies and manuals only but to use your experience to acquire the most vital concepts of yoga.
Yoga, like many other ideas spread worldwide, has a variety of different approaches. Still, it’s based on a comprehensive system for wellbeing, which is built on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level.

How Old is Yoga?

Let’s start with a brief introduction to a history of yoga.

As you may assume, yoga is quite an ancient discipline. It was developed about 5,000 years ago in India, but there are no written testimonials that explain who the inventor of the practice was.

During the past, yogis were passing the practice of yoga to their students, and the main goal was helping people achieve mental and physical balance. The instant development of yoga impacted the opening of many schools where this practice was learned, and that's how yoga reached global popularity.

The most famous book of yoga is the “Yoga Sutra, written 2,000 years ago by the Indian sage Patanjali, who tried to explain how to master the mind, control the emotions, and grow spiritually.

That text is one of the oldest written records that exist today, and it is one of the best guidebooks for the modern understanding of yoga.

Yoga is mostly known for its postures and poses, but the truth is that they are not a primary part of the original traditions – yoga for fitness started developing in the 1920s and 1930s, both in India and in the West.

The Main Concepts of Yoga Philosophy

From a philosophical point of view, yoga uses the imaginary tree that consists of roots, a trunk, branches, blossoms, and fruits – each branch of yoga is aimed at different focuses and sets of characteristics.

Here are the six branches of yoga:

  • Hatha yoga: It is the most popular branch, and it is aimed at achieving physical and mental equilibrium.
  • Raja yoga: This branch is about meditation and strict adherence to a series of disciplinary steps, which are known as “eight limbs” of yoga – yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (absorption).
  • Karma yoga: Karma yoga is designed to create a future that’s free of negativity and selfishness.
  • Bhakti yoga: This branch tries to establish devotion, a positive way of channeling emotions and cultivating acceptance and tolerance.
  • Jnana yoga: This is about wisdom, the path of the scholar, and developing the intellect through study.
  • Tantra yoga: Tantra yoga branch represents the pathway of ritual, ceremony, and consummation of a relationship.

When you approach yoga with a specific goal you want to achieve, it will be easier for you to choose the branch that would help you widen your horizons.

How to Start Yoga?

Many people who have never done yoga before are afraid that they might not be able to complete the training. However, that’s not true.

Since there are various techniques, we can say that yoga is for everyone. If you’ve never had an opportunity to practice it, you’ll need your body, your mind, and a bit of curiosity to step into the world of yoga mastery.

And if you’re wondering how to do yoga with comfort and style, go for yoga leggings or shorts, and make sure the T-shirt is not too baggy. If you want to add extra support, check out some of the fantastic yoga bra models.

The most popular yoga styles today are vinyasa and hatha yoga, and they both refer to a set of physical exercises (asanas and postures), which are designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. Those postures are beneficial for opening many channels of the body, especially the spine, allowing energy to flow freely.

Although these two styles are similar in some terms, there are some crucial differences between them – unlike hatha yoga, whose primary goal is aligning body, mind, and spirit, vinyasa includes poses that are intended for increasing body heat, sweat, and building strength.

Now, the question is, What type of yoga is more suitable for the beginners?

The truth is that beginners can do both styles – however, it’s recommended to start with hatha yoga since it’s less intense, and it can be a great warm-up for some more challenging postures you’ll want to try later.

What Is Yoga Good For?

If we go back to the origin of the word yoga, we’ll remember that it is about bonding and uniting.

It should be noted that the uniting occurs within us, and the connection between our mind, our body, and the rhythm of our breath is being established – that way, our entire body becomes more flexible, and our mind becomes ready to feel the freedom.

Apart from yoga’s positive impact on body and mind, there are some more benefits that yoga brings to our immune system and organism in general. Here are some of them:

  • Improves your posture: When your posture is bad, you may suffer from back and neck pain, which may prevent you from performing everyday activities. When doing yoga, you’ll learn how to reach the perfect balance and heal the pain.
  • Drops blood pressure: If you suffer from hypertension, yoga might be quite beneficial for you. Even if you practice the simplest postures, you’ll notice a significant improvement after some time.
  • Increases blood flow: Yoga can have a positive impact on your circulation and blood flow. By performing the relaxation exercises, you'll see the improvement, especially in your hands and feet circulation.
  • Involves a healthy lifestyle: Regular practice helps you find equilibrium between a healthy diet and spiritual and emotional dimensions.
  • Helps you focus: When you're distracted by your own thoughts, it becomes more difficult to stay focused on the things that happen around you. Regular practice will improve your coordination, reaction time, IQ scores, and memory – that way, you’ll demonstrate the ability to solve the problems more efficiently and stay focused on the things that matter.

How Often Should You Do Yoga?

There is no definite answer on how often you should practice yoga – it depends on you.

The optimal rule of healthy practice is about 3-5 times a week – that way, you’ll have enough time to take a rest, which is crucial for becoming stronger and maintaining your health.

Still, the most vital thing you should consider is to give yourself time – the results won’t be visible if you force yourself too much, and if you “go hard,” you are at risk of getting injured. Find the rhythm that suits your body, start slowly, and you’ll notice the benefits of yoga pretty soon.

Are There Any Side Effects of Yoga?

Although yoga is less intense than cardio training and fitness, you still need to be aware of some potential risks.

First, if you have never practiced it, it’s essential to find a well-trained instructor, who’ll guide and observe your practice – as mentioned, the injuries happen frequently, and the lack of adequate guidance is mostly the reason.

If you suffer from high blood pressure, glaucoma, sciatica, or if you’re pregnant or have an on-going medical condition, make sure you consult your healthcare provider before you start practicing, since there might be some positions that you should avoid.

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