With origins in ancient India, Yoga is one of the most recognized forms of exercise in the world. Although the practice of Yoga did not become popular in the United States until the 1960s. However, today, yoga is not only practiced by millions of Americans in the United States, but millions more throughout the world.
The first references to yogic concepts have been found dated as far back as the 2nd century BC. Oral traditions of yoga concepts and poses likely stretched back thousands of more years, although their exact date of origin is difficult to pinpoint.
In Sanskrit, the word yoga is literally translated as "yoke," meaning to attach, join, or unite. But the specific goals of yoga vary based on the exact type and style being practiced, and range from achieving moksha, meaning "release" to improving flexibility, balance, and coordination, enhancing physical health, and calming and centering the mind.
To some practitioners, yoga implies a lifestyle, and many of the tenets of Eastern Hindu philosophy apply. To many others, yoga is an enjoyable and healthy activity that has been shown in numerous studies to improve joint flexibility, cardiovascular health, muscular strength, and mental health.
The Various Styles of Yoga
The style of yoga you undertake will largely determine what benefits you derive from the activity and which poses you perform. There are many individual types of yoga, which can be divided into larger categories, based on the poses you can expect to find in the respective types. The categories of yoga types include:
Chanting Yoga is the only approach that completely emphasizes the spiritual and mind connectivity aspects of the art. By using what followers refer to as "vibrational medicine" participants combine meditation and the repetition of mantras with concentration on sound vibration. The repetition of the mantras is meant to make concentration easier and thus free the mind.
The most aerobic style of yoga, fast paced yoga is designed to raise the heart rate of the participant to a point where they are strengthening their body's endurance level and building muscle in almost all of the major areas.
The primary purpose of Flexibility Yoga is, of course, to increase flexibility. This, in turn, will also raise agility and make strength and aerobic training easier and safer. Most people begin practicing this style of yoga for exactly those reasons.
Because injury related yoga is the most careful of all styles of yoga, (while still building strength and flexibility) it has been often used for people that are too overweight to perform other activities. Too often, yoga is shown as being an elite form of exercise for the super fit percentage of the population. This is simply not true as anyone can use yoga in some way. Consider Injury Related Yoga if you are injured or overweight and then move on to something a little harder.
Meticulous Yoga arose from a movement in traditional yoga that stressed extreme focus and concentration as the fastest road to mental peace in the late 90s. Contrary to popular belief, meticulous yoga has little to do with obsession but rather a different approach to an art that already requires deep focus.
Very popular among women that practiced yoga during their pregnancy, post-natal yoga is an effective way to lose extra weight put on during pregnancy and readjust the body to its previous way of understanding itself.
Although it may seem like pre-natal yoga is a relatively recent development in the art, this style has been in practice since the pre-classical period. Originally developed to aid the baby in its transition into the world, the style has been revamped in recent years to focus on both the expected and the expecting.
While there is actually no recognized type or style of Yoga referred to as "relaxing," a recent movement (around 1991) has been made to transfer the ideas of yoga that strengthen the mind and connect it with the body to their own subset. In fact, relaxing yoga is closely related (if not the same as) a form of musical and theater study often referred to as the Alexander Technique.
Self motivated yoga focuses on setting goals, meeting them, and remaining consistent. Use a self motivated approach to yoga as you study in another style and you will quickly begin to see results. In fact, 80% of people that study yoga in some form say that being self motivated is one of the most important parts to studying the art.
By studying yoga in a spiritual style, one must study and adhere to the laws and the tenets set forth by the teachings in order to be successful. If the laws are followed and the participant has freed their mind, they are prepared to what believers call "transcendence."
One of the greatest benefits of yoga is its proven ability to reduce or relieve stress in its participants. Countless studies of brain patterns and activity have shown that people who participate in yoga are generally happier, more productive, more focused and have more successful relationships than people who don't use yoga at all.
Traditional Yoga, also known as classical Yoga, arose during the 2nd century and encompasses a wide variety of techniques and teachings. It was preceded by a nearly 2,000 year period that is generally known as pre-classical.
Almost every form of yoga will use poses that help to develop muscles, build strength and increase flexibility. However, there are a few that will not increase heart rate levels enough to be an effective stand alone form of exercise. The two types of yoga that are the most effective for losing weight are Ashtanga and Hot.
The Benefits of Adding Yoga Into Your Life
One of the primary draws to Yoga is the ease by which it can be incorporated into most people's lifestyles. While physical Yoga usually requires a Yoga mat to support and cushion the body, there are typically no other expenses. You may want to purchase a book or a tape, but Yoga classes are optional and most people can perform introductory poses with relative ease. After mastering these poses, you can move on to more difficult poses by building on the concepts that you have already learned.
Some people choose to take Yoga classes. This are an excellent idea if you are not getting what you feel you should from a simple book or tape. If you are unable to afford the books or tapes, you are in luck.
We have compiled a large resource meant to educate you about the various poses, techniques and styles of Yoga. By simply reading the pages related to Yoga on our website, you will likely be able to perform most introductory Yoga poses on your own. Be sure to read the "Origins" and types and styles sections to impress your friends at your next Yoga class.
Yoga fitness is a method of getting into shape, both physically and mentally, and has grown greatly in popularity among western cultures. While traditional yoga places much more emphasis on mental and spiritual development, fitness yoga is largely geared towards improving physical health, fitness, and wellness. In part, Essentially, it requires a completely different approach to the eastern practice.
Yoga fitness involves improving strength and muscular endurance by stretching the muscles and joints and practicing static poses in which the practitioner is required to actively engage every muscle in their body. Many individuals choose to learn these poses through the use of a trained yoga professional of which there are currently many.
However, developing a yoga fitness routine on your own is not impossible by any means and millions of people practice yoga privately before joining a class or continue to practice privately for the duration of their lives.