Happy September to you and Happy Dog-Days of Summer! Here’s my fitness question for all of you:
Are you Yoga Fit yet?
If you answered “YES!!” congratulations on discovering a possible missing link to your workout routine and your stress levels.
If you answered “No”, then I encourage you to climb aboard the Yoga fitness bandwagon.
Now if you’re like me (past me that is!), you thought of Yoga as being in a group of people sitting crossed-leg on the floor and going “ohmmmmm…..Ohhmmmmm” and generally view Yoga as boring.
Well, let me tell you I was sooo wrong and now the Yoga community has my complete respect. And I hope, after reading my article, your interest and respect for Yoga is that of any other form of strength training!
Now, before I get into the many variations of Yoga, here’s a little background history on Yoga:
Yoga (which is not a religion) has been around for more than 5,000 years and teaches one to move the body with the breath. Yoga is not about being a contortionist; it is about mind, body and spirit as one.
Yoga can be a great addition to your workouts, and can be done at your home, in the park, the beach, or by going to a Yoga studio. Yoga can be considered your “me time” to increase your strength, agility, and balance. And balance as we know, especially as we get older, can become a big concern. A big plus is also Yoga can increase your beautiful lean muscles as you’re not using weights… this exercise is total body weight!
The following are some of the more popular types of Yoga, to help you decide which one(s) to try first.
It is important to distinguish between the different types according to what you want from a Yoga practice. Below is a list of the most popular types, and why they would appeal to certain people.
Anusara Yoga: A practice that usually revolves around a heart-oriented theme. The teachers look for the good in all things, especially within their students and themselves. The practice is committed to helping build self-esteem while integrating playfulness in a light-hearted environment. This practice is ideal for those who like to use their Yoga practice for spiritual as well as physical growth.
Ashtanga Yoga: This is a system of Yoga that is a modern adaptation of classical Indian Yoga. It is a more rigorous, and strictly practiced. Traditionally Ashtanga is taught in a format with each practitioner moving through the series at his or her own pace. Now, many Yoga schools offer led Ashtanga classes for all levels. This practice is ideal for those who want a stricter, traditional, structured and challenging Yoga practice.
Ashtanga Yoga: A series composed of 90 minutes, 26 postures 2 breathing exercises practiced in a hot room. No matter when or where you go, a Bikram Yoga class is always the same sequence of postures. The idea is that you see your body change while the postures do not. Because of this, it is a great style of Yoga for beginners. There is major sweating involved, which helps detox the body and can help you lose weight, and the heat is ideal for people who want more flexibility.
Hatha Yoga: Hatha Yoga is a general term meaning a type of Yoga that holds a certain pose for many breaths. If a class is described as Hatha, it will most likely be friendly towards beginners.
Iyengar Yoga: In an Iyengar class, you move through a handful of Yoga postures, and hold them in the correct alignment for long periods of time. The teachers must undergo an extensive training, so it is good for someone seriously interested in Yoga or anyone with chronic pain or specific injury they are healing.
Kundalini Yoga: In Kundalini Yoga, the emphasis is on the breath and various breathing techniques in conjunction with the Yoga posture. The main theme of this style of Yoga is to help the energy in the lower body move upward. Because it is rooted in energy and the chakras, it can be viewed as more of a mystical style of Yoga. It can also be a mentally and physically challenging class. It would be a great practice for anyone who feels like they are stagnant in life or could use some cleansing.
Power Yoga: Many people associate this style of Yoga with a workout, as it flows with an energetic pace. Each class will vary from teacher to teacher. This is an ideal class for someone who is already fairly physically fit, enjoys a challenge, and wants minimal chanting and meditation.
Yin/Restorative Yoga: A style of Yoga that strives to achieve physical, mental and emotional relaxation with the use of props to help you melt into relaxing poses. Each restorative pose is meant to be held for a couple minutes. This is an ideal practice for beginners or anyone who wants Yoga to be a relaxing experience.
Vinyasa Yoga: Similar to Power Yoga, it is an energetic flow. You change postures each couple of breaths by flowing from one posture to another. Usually set to music, this style of Yoga is different every time and can be a challenging way to use Yoga to gain strength, flexibility and coordination. This is a good for people who like to move and like a challenge.
ViniYoga/Yoga Therapy: This is specific to healing a certain injury. The sequences are designed with safety and anatomic principles in mind. These classes are slower paced, with the goal of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health. This is an ideal class for someone recovering from illness or injury and/or beginners who want to take it slow.
Make sure that you arrive early to meet your instructor and to let them know of any pre-existing injuries that you may have.
Make sure that you’re wearing comfortable clothes. I recommend Yoga pants (seriously!), and a close-fitting but comfortable top. Many of the Yoga moves involve bending, and you don’t want to spend your time pulling down your tank/shirt and shorts.
Additional supplies to carry with you include:
Yoga Mat, these are different from your regular gym mats, as they are sticky (non-skid) on one side, to prevent you from sliding on the floor
Stay hydrated. Bring in water and include lemon, lime, sprig of mint, etc. to keep you refreshed.
The bottom line: Yoga can help you to increase body awareness, increase your flexibility/range of motion and to get in touch with your body through meditation and breathing. Yoga is designed to open your heart and to help you experience and increase your inner peace. As someone who is new to Yoga myself, I encourage all you RxGirls to give Yoga a try.
Now that you have a more informed idea of Yoga and the various Yoga modalities, it’s time to sign up for your first class!