Yoga has been around for over 5000 years. It’s a popular form of exercise in the United States, practiced by about 11 million Americans. There are over 100 different schools or types of yoga. However, most sessions involve breathing exercises, meditation and the performance of postures or poses.
The purpose of yoga is to strengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility while creating an awareness and balance in both the mind and body.
Even if you don’t feel like you’re very flexible or strong, you can still practice yoga. Over time, with practice, your flexibility and muscle strength and tone will improve.
Yoga also can provide many physical, mental and spiritual benefits, including:
- Reduced chronic pain, especially lower back pain
- Lower blood pressure
- Better breathing and lung capacity
- Improved digestion
- Reduced insomnia
- More energy
- Better posture and alignment
- Greater balance
- Less chronic stress
- Enhanced mental clarity and concentration
- Greater mental calmness
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- More positive outlook on life
What type of yoga is right for you?
That depends. Some of the more common types include:
Hatha Yoga – Focuses on slow and gentle movements with a variety of poses. This type of yoga is good for beginners, as well as a great way to wind down after a long day at work.
Anusara Yoga – Involves a lot of alignment and breath work while focusing on seeing the light within yourself and others. You can also use props with this type of yoga. Beginners can benefit from Anusara Yoga.
Ivengar Yoga – Concentrates a great deal on alignment and the use of props like wooden blocks, harnesses, cushions and straps. This type of yoga is useful for people requiring physical therapy.
Vinyasa Yoga – Offers a variety of changing movements. This is the most popular type of yoga in the U.S.
Kundalini Yoga – Concentrates on the energy of the Root Chakra, the area around your lower spine, so it involves core work on the abs and around the spine. This type of yoga can be pretty intense.
Ashtanga Yoga – Requires constant movement – also known as Power Yoga. Since this type of yoga is physically demanding, it’s best suited for someone who is very athletic.
Jivamukti Yoga – Infuses music, scripture reading, chanting and vegetarianism. This type of yoga is more physically intense.
Whichever type of yoga you determine is best for you, you can benefit physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
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