There are many different types of Yoga. The word “Yoga,” in Sanskrit, means “Union” or “Oneness with the Divine.” There are Yoga practices of the mind and those of the body. The physical practices, known as “Hatha” (Body) Yoga, are the kind we see people doing in all the teaching videos and Yoga studios. With literally hundreds of styles, the practice is designed to promote health and fitness, longevity, mental clarity, and to prepare the body for meditation and eventually advanced meditation practices. This article shall focus on achieving an idea of Yoga Explained for the rest of us.
One need not necessarily delve into the meditation practices or the religion associated with the advanced meditations and chants in order to practice this practical exercise for physical health, mental clarity, and longevity. Anyone gets to do Yoga, so there is no requirement to convert to Hinduism. In fact, most Yoga instructors and systems of practice have separated the religious aspects from the physical practice so all creeds may receive the benefits.
Yoga is a practical, comprehensive style of exercise which combines stretching with strength training and cardiovascular intensity. The stretching and lengthening of muscles result from the different poses and depths of the poses, while the resistance and strength training manifests counter resistance to one’s own body weight and movement. It is actually quite an intense workout, contrary to popular belief among those who have never even tried it out.
The world of Yoga practices is indeed a confusing one thanks to the media and the sheer number of different studios, videos, books, and retreats available. Which kind of Yoga is the right one? Which one is right for you? Because one friend told you that Ashtanga Yoga was the best, but your best friend told you the only real Yoga is Iyengar Yoga. All of this simply leads to confusion and misunderstanding when the goal is Union, not confusion.
Learning straight from a book or from YouTube or a video is not the best approach for the beginner seeking Yoga Explained in the proper manner. It is better to learn proper form and style from qualified, professional instruction as you venture into what will become a life-long practice. The solution is to find a reputable Yoga teacher at a good studio and start with what are simply known as beginners’ classes. This first step is vital to develop a strong foundation for more advanced practices.
By starting with basic Hatha Yoga instruction, you eventually develop a solid routine which you remember and can do anywhere. Then you can move on to more intense Yoga, such as Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga, both of which emphasize continuous transitions and more cardiovascular exercise with the focus on developing total body strength and mental focus.
There is also the system of Iyengar Yoga, which eventually moves into some of the most advanced postures, but starts with a clear beginner’s practice and you gradually progress. This was the most popular style in the 1960’s and 70’s because it was the first style brought to the West. After you learn the basics, begin to choose the style with which you find the best connection.