How yoga works
Yoga is a traditional combination of physical and mental exercises that for thousands of years, have hooked people around the globe. It can be traced back to northern India over 5000 years ago.
Yoga does much more than stretch out your body, it is a total mind-body workout that comprises of physical strengthening and conditioning, as well as breathwork, meditation and control of your thoughts.
Whatever type of yoga you opt for, by completing a series of movements, you will tone muscle, alleviate muscle tension and give yourself time to reflect and adjust your headspace. Regular practice can promote endurance, strength, calmness, stability.
Why is yoga good for you ?
As practicing yoga combines both physical and mental elements, it is a workout for your whole being. It has many benefits, for both your body and mind.
1) Yoga improves balance - holding various poses builds strength, and allows you to practice balancing in a calm and stable environment.
2)Yoga improves strength - many yoga poses require you to support your own body weight, allowing you to build and tone muscle.
3)Yoga can help you sleep - yoga can be incredibly relaxing, helping you to wind down and get in the mindset for sleep.
4) Yoga can reduce stress - the calming and relaxing nature of the class, can help you to relax and feel less stressed. Studies have shown that regular practice reduces levels of cortisol in the body.
5) Yoga can increase flexibility - depending on the type of yoga undertaken, much of the practice includes poses that help you to improve your flexibility.
6) Yoga can improve breathing - Pranayama or yogic breathing is a practice in yoga that focuses on controlling the breath through breathing exercise. This can increase lung capacity over time.
What are the different types of yoga?
There are many different types of yoga, each with varying movements and a different focus. Below we explore a few common styles:
1) Iyengar - with similar lineage to Ashtanga yoga, this practice focuses on alignment, so is great for beginners. It focus on the precision of your yoga poses.
2) Ashtanga - has similar poses to iyengar, but with a much more vigorous style. It offers a series of poses each held for only 5 breaths. This is a more advanced class that can include poses such as arm balances, headstands and shoulder stands. Beginners are encouraged to do this with an experienced instructor.
3) Vinyasa flow - is a term used for many different types of flowing yoga practices, where the teacher leads classes that flow from one pose to the next without a break.
4) Hot Yoga - is a favourite of those who like to sweat, it is designed for you to strengthen the body while the heat loosens it. Improving flexibility, and is loved by many for its detoxification benefits.
5) Hatha Yoga - a gentle class of yoga, that does not flow as much, and focuses more on the poses or ‘asanas".
6) Yin yoga -Yin yoga comes from the Taoist tradition and focuses on still seated positions that target the hips, pelvis and lower spine. The aim is to increase flexibility and encourage a feeling or release. It is great for beginners and aficionados alike.
Where to start with yoga
Don’t be intimidated but complicated terminology, fancy yoga studios of complicated poses. Yoga is for everyone.
Whether you start by going to a local yoga studio, or following an online class at home, taking a class can be a fantastic way to start your journey with yoga. With a teacher to guide you through the poses, and help you learn how to move your body.
If you are just starting out, starting a free course like Yoga with Adriene can be a great way to build yoga into your ritual. The most important thing to remember when starting to practice yoga (or when you are starting any healthy habit) is doing it routinely, start small with a few minutes a day and work up from there.
What to wear to yoga?
Wear what you are comfortable in! Usual workout wear is recommended, as it allows you the freedom of movement. Loose fitting clothes might also get in the way if you go on to attempt any inversion poses (a headstand for example).
What time of day is it best to do yoga?
Any and all of the time! The trick is to make it work for you. So whether it is practising early in the morning to stretch out and get in the right headspace for the day, or heading to a class after work to de-stress after a long day - yoga is fantastic for your mind and body anytime that works for you.
How often should I do yoga?
Generally speaking, many say that it is best when practiced between 2 and 5 times a week. As you practice more you may find a daily practice helpful or you may find that you can only realistically fit it into your schedule once or twice.
Is CBD good for yoga?
CBD is short for cannabidiol and is derived from the hemp plant - it works with our body’s ECS (endocannabinoid system), a system of nerves and receptors to help our body to achieve balance. This can aid relief of stress, anxiety, improve sleep, soothe pain and inflammation and support our immune system.
Many people who practice yoga may also take CBD. CBD oils
may help to calm the mind, help you to de-stress and find your balance. If taken before a yoga class this may help you to feel more zen and relax into the class.
You might also want to try a CBD Drink after class, to refresh yourself (especially after hot yoga class!) as CBD’s anti-inflammatory benefits may help to soothe sore muscles and reduce inflammation.