What is yoga?
The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root “yuj”, which means “to yoke” the spirit and physical body together. No one knows exactly when Yoga began, but it certainly predates written history. Stone carvings depicts figures in Yoga positions. The practice has evolved over thousands of years to embrace a wide range of styles and disciplines. Most importantly, yoga is about breathing and enhancing circulation of breath and energy throughout the body. If you are in a pose and not breathing, back out to a place that allows you to breath naturally.
Yoga is a popular activity for athletes, children, and seniors. Poses can be modified to suit all levels of fitness. Yoga can help to lower blood pressure and increases strength and flexibility. Yoga energizes our bodies and calms our minds.
Types of yoga
Ashtanga: Athletic and vigorous.
Hatha: Foundation for most yoga styles. Great for beginners.
Hot: The title says it all. Room temperature is usualy kept at 95-100 degrees. Make sure to bring a towel — or two!
Iyengar: With a focus on structure, usually uses blocks, straps for support.
Kundalini: Focused on meditation and breathing.
Power/Flow/Vinyasa: An athletic and physically challenging style that links movement with breath.
Pre- and Post-natal: Gentle Hatha yoga is ideal for pregnant women to help lower stress.
Yin: Said to be one of the oldest forms of yoga. A slow class designed to get into connective tissues and joints. Poses are held for a few breaths and up to several minutes.
Restorative: An even slower class that will take you deeper than you’ve ever gone. Postures are held for several minutes and supported by blankets and blocks.
This is a small sampling of yoga styles. Below are some resources available to learn more.
What style if best for me?
Explore different types of yoga with a variety of teachers until you find a practice which works for you. Be sure to let your teacher know if you have any questions and share medical history that is relevant (e.g. recent surgeries, high blood pressure, asthma, osteoporosis, etc.) so that they can share safe pose modifications. Most importantly, be gentle with yourself and allow yourself time to ease into practice. Yoga classes are offered at a variety of locations beyond yoga studios, including fitness clubs, hospitals, community centers, recreation centers, and often local middle and high schools.
Free Yoga Resources
www.yogajournal.com Great resource for all things yoga including sequence builder tool that provides assistance for building a home practice.
www.yogabasics.com Nice place to start for those new to practice. Postures are covered thoroughly and include pictures.
www.yogafinder.com Just what it sounds like – Yoga Finder provides a yoga studios, retreats, workshops, teacher training, and more.
http://yogahealthfoundation.org September is National Yoga Month and a great time to try a explore a new type of yoga and attend a week of free yoga classes. This site provides a list of participating organizations and you can download a voucher for a free week of yoga in September. There are also many other resources including information on health benefits of yoga and opportunities to volunteer.
http://myfreeyoga.com/ Online yoga videos featuring many types of yoga classes.
Pandora (free music) featuring Yoga Radio, Jager Yoga Radio, and Pramahansa Yogananda Radio
White Noise – Soothing sounds
Calm.com – Guided meditation
The Key Muscles of Yoga: Scientific Keys, Volume I by Ray Long & Chris Macivor
Yoga:A Yoga Journal Book by Linda Sparrowe
The Yoga Sutras many versions availableThe Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice by T. K. V. DesikacharOne Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps by Kevin GriffinYoga for Depression by Amy Weintraub
Yoga for Transformation by Gary Kraftsow