Yoga yoga, yoga… You’re bound to be familiar with the term (not because I typed it 3 times), it’s been around for years! 10,000 years to be precise, and it’s had its ups and downs on the trendy radar.
Some people try it once and instantly love it, practicing every day – while others don’t really see the benefits and move back to their pilates or HIIT workouts. Both are fine, of course.
We’re here to explore some basic topics on yoga – is it worth it and could you benefit from it?
What does yoga even mean? There are also different types of yoga, just to make matters more complex for us beginners!
Not to worry, I know the feels of not really knowing where or how to begin the yogaing journey, so how did it all start?
For me, I was signed up for a random yoga session at school. We had this yogi teacher come in, and did a large session in our sports hall. After that 1 hour session, I knew I was a fan, I was just utterly amazed by how relaxed and open my body and mind felt afterwards.
It was something I was going to stick with, for sure!
As always, life got in the way, I somewhat lost my motivation to do any yoga at home due to lack of room at home, exams and well, time…
Yoga means to unite and rejoin, which refers to the spirituality of the practice, connecting between the mind and the soul.
Reasons why you might want to start doing yoga:
- If you experience back pains
- It you need to de-stress and relax
- If you need to lower your blood pressure
- If you’re trying to lose weight
- If you’re having difficulty sleeping
- If you feel you need to boost your energy levels and enhance your mood
- If you suffer with anxiety
- If you’d like to be more flexible
Quite a handful of reasons, and if you find at least one of them relates to your goals or issues, why not go for it?
Try it a few times and see if you can see a difference in yourself, your mind and body and it might be the next best thing you do!
You could try a local class or if you’re a little shy and don’t want other people watching you while you struggle to make any of the poses, try an online class or YouTube! Yoga with Adriene is my favourite channel and she has a variety of different yoga types, for different body parts and in various lengths.
Even if you only have 10-15 minutes, you can find a video/class that suits you.
When you try more and more of yoga, you’ll start to notice what you prefer, which poses, what pace and whether a longer sessions suits you better.
Types of Yoga
Although Hatha yoga is the most well know and most practiced from of yoga, there are other types and variations of yoga. The different types of yoga vary depending on the postures, what they focus on and the effects they’re supposed to help you achieve.
A few less commonly know yoga types are:
- Raja Yoga
- Nidra Yoga
- Kemetic Yoga
- Kriya Yoga
Hatha yoga is basically a set of postures and exercises that you most commonly see people do, most classes are based on Hatha and most books too.
I have a great Hatha Yoga book which I’d recommend if you’d like to learn more:
I also got given a really great Yoga DVD to do at home which I love:
What is Raja Yoga?
Raja Yoga is classed as the King of Yogas. It goes by another name too so you might have come across it – Ashtanga Yoga. It basically consists of 8 stages or parts. These 8 parts when combined, should allow you to gain inner peace, clarity and self control, with each part playing a vital role, in gaining that ultimate peace.
The 8 parts of raja yoga are:
- Self-control: Yama
- Discipline: Niyama
- Physical exercises: Asana
- Breath exercises: Pranayama
- Withdrawal of senses from external objects: Pratyahara
- Concentration: Dharana
- Meditation: Dhyana
- Complete Realisation: Samadhi
In essence, once you practice all of the above enough, you should eventually achieve and have perfected raja yoga, the king of yogas. Oh, and you would have achieved the complete inner peace, sense of clarity and ability to control your actions a bit more.
Yoga Nidra is essentially a combination of both meditation and yoga, relaxing your brain and calming your thoughts. This would be particularly beneficial for those who tend to suffer from anxiety.
The intensity of this mediation, is equivalent to a 2-hour sleep! How good is that?!
It’s such a deep, relaxing ritual/exercise, that after 30 minutes of practice, you will feel as if you slept for 2 hours. We all seem to be short for time and want more hours in the day, so Yoga Nidra would be a great way to squeeze in some rest, while saving 1 and half hour of your day.
Your body relaxes, your thoughts slow down and ultimately, you feel like you’re asleep, but your mind knows you’re awake because you can feel yourself breathing, while your body has entered a sleeping state.
This almost sleeping state your mind and body enter are related to your brainwaves, which you can read about more in detail here.
Kemetic Yoga originates from Egypt and is a type of yoga that connects prayer, spirit of ancestors and meditation all in one. It’s almost a ritual in itself.
It focuses on self-development, self-discovery and overall healing of mind, body and soul. There are 3 key features of Kemetic Yoga:
- The Rule of Four Breathing
- Geometric Progression
- Tongue Connection
The key distinguishing factor for Kemetic Yoga is placing your tongue behind your front teeth and at the roof your mouth, while breathing.
It is supposed to connect your whole body flow, enhancing the whole experience and effect of connection to inner self and spiritual world.
Although it originated in ancient Egypt (known as Kemet back then), it is still practiced today, with a few modernisations/adaptations to suit our modern lives.
It focuses heavily on correction of the spine and helping with blood flow through the whole body, supported by breathing.
The main goal of practicing Kirya Yoga is that eventually you reach a point of realisation between God and liberation of the soul from any restrictions. Kriya is broken down in India into 2 syllables – Kri which means to work, and Ya – which means soul.
During the practice the power of God/Divine/Universe is pulling from and into your soul. Soul and body come together in the Kri Ya practice, enhanced through yoga and breathing exercises.
It is a teaching of self, that is constantly with us but not necessarily acknowledged. A simultaneous development of mind, body, intellect and soul.
It goes beyond religion but is somewhat related to religion teachings too – it is simply a teaching of yoga with the following 3 features:
- Prathyahara: renunciation
- Dhyana: conception of self
- Samadhi: absorbed in god
It is mainly a 4 minute technique of breathing to reach the above 3 features.
There are many benefits to yoga, positively affecting our minds, bodies and spiritual connection to our soul. The emphasis on slow movement and breathing is prominent in every type of yoga as the main features of this practice.
Yoga is almost like a ritual, it’s a time out of your day to slow down, to re-focus your energy back to yourself and to what really matters.
It can also make you more flexible, help with your metabolism, back problems and overall energy levels.
As it’s a relaxing practice, it reduces your stress levels too – so if you have a stressful job or you know you’re likely to get nervous, anxious or frustrated with situations and you’d like to change that, yoga could be perfect for you!
Yoga and Weight Loss
As yoga is a form of movement, although slow, it can help with weight loss. As it can speed up metabolism, naturally, that aids with weight loss too.
Several studies suggest that yoga helps with weight loss, as it helps to reduce stress and increase mindfulness, which in turn can often help us establish why we are overheating for example.
As yoga is also a form of exercise (as you’re moving your body), naturally movement helps with muscle build, blood flow, all supported by stretches/twists of our insides, restoring a natural flow of our bodies inside and out.
If you’d like to lose weight and try yoga, you could try more intense yoga sessions for 45 minutes to 1 hour, 3 times a week and increasing this to 5 times a week when you feel able.
We hope this article on yoga gives you a good insight into yoga and hopefully inspires you to try it!