About Yoga

Yoga: Union of body, mind and spirit.

What is Yoga?

Simply put, yoga is a science which has its basis in ancient Indian philosophy. It offers a holistic approach to day-to-day living and has become highly relevant in today’s fast-paced way of life.

There are four paths of yoga and the choice of path to follow is dependant upon the temperament or approach to life of the individual. Whichever path is followed, the ultimate destination is the same: union with Brahman or God. More information about each of the four paths of yoga will follow in future blogs, however for now they are, in brief:

  1. Karma Yoga – the path of action which teaches wisdom and purifies the heart by teaching the follower to act selflessly, without thought of gain or reward.
  2. Bhakti Yoga – the path of prayer and devotion and surrender of the self to God.
  3. Jnana Yoga – the path of philosophy leading to knowledge of the absolute and so dissolving the veils of ignorance.
  4. Raja Yoga – the path of physical and mental control offers a comprehensive method for turning our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy by controlling the waves of thought.

Raja yoga is the yoga that is usually followed in the West. The yoga postures that we practice are a part of the eight limbs of raja yoga. The eight limbs are a progressive series of steps or disciplines which are designed to purify the mind. The eight limbs of yoga will be discussed in future blogs. They are:

  1. Yamas (restraints).
  2. Niyamas (observances).
  3. Asanas (postures).
  4. Pranayama (regulation of the breath).
  5. Pratyhara (focusing inward).
  6. Dharana (concentration).
  7. Dhyana (meditation).
  8. Samadhi (superconsciousness).

When people attend yoga classes in the the West, their primary reason for attending is usually to practice the physical postures (the third limb from the eight limbs of Raja yoga). Although there are hundreds of yoga asanas, there is a core of postures that are commonly practiced. The choice of those practiced depends entirely upon the teacher, and the abilities of the student. Good yoga asana practice relies heavily on the teacher who is trained and qualified to properly demonstrate the postures, explain the numerous health related benefits they create and make any necessary adjustments to the posture as practiced by the student.

A good class will, however, normally include other aspects of Raja Yoga, such as breathing exercises, mindfulness and/or meditation, the philosophy of yoga, information about the yogic principles for healthy living and a final relaxation.

What Are The Benefits of Practicing Yoga?

The health benefits associated with practicing Yoga are numerous and they include: lowering blood pressure; reducing (and even eradicating) levels of stress, anxiety and depression and improving levels of self-belief and self-esteem. The regular practice of yoga encourages flexibility of both mind and body, allowing a more rounded perspective on life and relationships. It develops stamina, improves breathing, calms the mind and stabilises and controls the emotions to develop inner equilibrium and happiness. A comprehensive list of the mental, emotional and physiological rewards is given at the end of this page.

Yoga optimises the functioning of the mind/body throughout. It balances and harmonises all aspects of the body/mind: physical mental and emotional.

Practicing yoga is a little like igniting a small flame of awareness inside, and watching it grow.

What Are The Requirements For Attending A Class?

Yoga is equally beneficial for adults of all ages and children. It is a gentle, slow paced activity that is suitable for any level of fitness. If you are suffering from an injury or medical condition, your teacher is qualified to adapt and modify postures, as necessary to ensure that you can still practice. Yoga is completely personal and non-competitive making it suitable for everybody.

All that is required is to wear loose comfortable clothing, and bring along a yoga mat, if you have one, and a blanket. Although most regular practitioners of yoga prefer to have their own mat, mats are provided for those who do not have one. If you are attending a chair yoga class, you don’t need to bring anything!

If you live in or around Crowland, Bourne or Long Sutton, and would like to take part in a yoga class please contact me on: 07817623330 or use the contact page.

Physiological Benefits of Yoga

  • § Stable autonomic nervous system equilibrium
  • § Pulse rate decreases
  • § Respiratory rate decreases
  • § Blood Pressure decreases (of special significance for hyporeactors)
  • § Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) increases
  • § EEG – alpha waves increase (theta, delta, and beta waves also increase during various stages of meditation)
  • § EMG activity decreases
  • § Cardiovascular efficiency increases
  • § Respiratory efficiency increases
  • § Gastrointestinal function normalizes
  • § Endocrine function normalizes
  • § Excretory functions improve
  • § Musculoskeletal flexibility and joint range of motion increase
  • § Breath-holding time increases
  • § Joint range of motion increase
  • § Grip strength increases
  • § Eye-hand coordination improves
  • § Dexterity skills improve
  • § Reaction time improves
  • § Posture improves
  • § Strength and resiliency increase
  • § Endurance increases
  • § Energy level increases
  • § Weight normalizes
  • § Sleep improves
  • § Immunity increases
  • § Pain decreases
  • § Steadiness improves
  • § Depth perception improves
  • § Balance improves
  • § Integrated functioning of body parts improves

Psychological Benefits of Yoga

  • § Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase
  • § Mood improves and subjective well-being increases
  • § Self-acceptance and self-actualization increase
  • § Social adjustment increases
  • § Anxiety and Depression decrease
  • § Hostility decreases
  • § Concentration improves
  • § Memory improves
  • § Attention improves
  • § Learning efficiency improves
  • § Mood improves
  • § Self-actualization increase
  • § Social skills increases
  • § Well-being increases
  • § Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase
  • § Self-acceptance increase
  • § Attention improves
  • § Concentration improves
  • § Memory improves
  • § Learning efficiency improves
  • § Symbol coding improves
  • § Depth perception improves
  • § Flicker fusion frequency improves

Biochemical Benefits of Yoga

  • § Glucose decreases
  • § Sodium decreases
  • § Total cholesterol decreases
  • § Triglycerides decrease
  • § HDL cholesterol increases
  • § LDL cholesterol decreases
  • § VLDL cholesterol decreases
  • § Cholinesterase increases
  • § Catecholamines decrease
  • § ATPase increases
  • § Hematocrit increases
  • § Hemoglobin increases
  • § Lymphocyte count increases
  • § Total white blood cell count decreases
  • § Thyroxin increases
  • § Vitamin C increases
  • § Total serum protein increases

Overall Yoga Benefits

  • Parasympathetic Nervous System dominates
  • § Subcortical regions of brain dominate
  • § Slow dynamic and static movements
  • § Normalization of muscle tone
  • § Low risk of injuring muscles and ligaments
  • § Low caloric consumption
  • § Effort is minimized, relaxed
  • § Energizing (breathing is natural or controlled)
  • § Balanced activity of opposing muscle groups
  • § Noncompetitive, process-oriented
  • § Awareness is internal (focus is on breath and the infinite)
  • § Limitless possibilities for growth in self-awareness.

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