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2021 JANUARY 31
Yoga: from a stretch to the peace of heart
Can yoga be any more valued and appreciated than it is right now?
Every magazine, mindfulness blog, yoga studio, and countless Youtube channels talk about how amazing it is, how to do it, and what benefits you could enjoy after a simple practice.
Well, despite all the talks and all the glory - I'd still give a guess as to yes - it could be even more relevant and needed.
And here is how...
It's not one of those practices that just disappear the next month out of the blue. It is not too tricky to do and it does not require expensive equipment. And most of all, it is not a trend with no lasting effects.
Yoga has a history of more than 5000 years - and it's still going strong.
Yoga has passed the test of time.
Sometimes it may feel like the whole world knows the mountain pose, downward-facing dog, or even a bridge pose.
But what is yoga really? Let's investigate.
The word itself means - union. And in many ways, it is first a philosophy rather than stretching or deep breathing.
You can see just how deep and thoughtful yoga is as a tradition and practice - in yoga symbols, where each one represents spiritual significance. Some of the most popular symbols include - a lotus flower - the opening of the heart, or mandala - representing the universe.
In fact, the very first yoga - was indeed about mental focus and expanding spiritual energy.
To connect to reality - to connect to self.
But naturally, yoga has somewhat transformed through such a long time of existence and became more postural based than primarily a mental affair.
Could this be a direct result of our abandonment of mental health needs and inner wellness?
But yoga in itself holds a balance. It is how you choose to approach it - that matters. If you crave more physical aspects - it has them. If you're interested in the more mental side - you'll find it.
Yoga is different for everybody. Even such a thing as 'yoga for beginners' does not have one look and can be interpreted differently.
6 branches of yoga
A long, long time ago - yoga was referred to as a tree. It was almost as its own living entity with roots deep in the soil and long-stretching branches in the air filled with beautiful blossoms and delicious fruit.
And each branch was thought to represent a unique function and approach to life.
Hatha yoga - aims to prime both the body and the mind.
Raja yoga - meditation through a commitment to a series of disciplinary steps.
Karma yoga - for creating a future free of negativity and selfishness.
Bhakti yoga - establishing the path of devotion while channeling emotions and cultivating acceptance and tolerance.
Tantra yoga - often in form of a ritual, ceremony, or consummation of a relationship.
Jnana yoga - ‘the path of the scholar’ developing intellectual thinking and wisdom through study.
The physical practices of yoga, however, would be almost impossible to mention. There are hundreds of types that have formed through time, all with different philosophies and intentions.
But what branch interests you the most?
Yoga for beginners
Is there really yoga for beginners and yoga for advanced individuals?
Well, in a sense. Usually, for every pose, there are several variations to choose from based on your level. So you can create your own beginner yoga routine based on what poses are suggested for your level.
If you find a yoga pose hard to do - learn it slowly, step by step. Like all the other things in life - don’t force it. Let your body move at its own pace.
Basic Yoga Poses
Here are the main pose groups to look forward to in your yoga class:
- Standing Poses
- Balancing Poses
- Seated Poses
- Resting or Supine Poses
You might be much better at some than others.
But remember, each pose has something new to offer. So, don’t skip those that seem a little daunting at first.
Benefits, benefits, benefits… There’s enough for everybody! Like a bottomless list - you can choose whatever you like best, or better yet - grab all of the benefits without a look back!
Think about all the good and healthy changes your body may encounter:
- increased flexibility
- increased muscle strength
- improved respiration, energy, and vitality
- a balanced metabolism
- healthy weight loss
- supported circulatory health
- improved athletic performance
- protection from injury
The short answer is - fight STRESS! Yes, the same stress that keeps you up at night, makes you irritated and tired or even causes you pain.
Yoga can help you counteract the devastating effects of stress by teaching you the skills that will make you feel better and have a more positive outlook.
But that is only the surface of what yoga can do.
The real value of yoga and how it could impact you specifically - can only be found on your own in due time.
But it is known to promote mental clarity, increase one’s awareness, relax the body, sharpen concentration, and generally calm and soothe the mind.
Am I too old for yoga? Or maybe not fit or flexible enough?
Many questions tend to roam our heads before we embark on a new journey of unexplored horizons.
No, you’re not too old - yoga is for everyone, no matter your age - there are various yoga sequences that cater specifically to your body and its capabilities. And if fact, yoga has various anti-aging benefits, which will surely attract you for health and appearance reasons.
Yes, you’re fit enough - maybe the mere thought that you’re not fit enough - is precisely the reason to do yoga. It will make you feel good, healthy, and fit - because there’s not only stretching involved but also strength building and much more.
Yes, you’re flexible enough - if only flexible people could do it - there would hardly be any people doing yoga. Flexibility increases with yoga, not the other way around. Just don’t be so hard on yourself - and take your time.
You are perfect
Forget the doubts, forget the apprehension.
Or better yet - use them as fuel to prepare for your own yoga journey.
And if you need just a little encouragement - check out the Mindful Souls subscription box. Each month - there are new spiritual items, including worldly crystals, affirmation cards, aromatherapy items, and so much more.
Written by Jade
Jade is a writer who loves art, nature, and various topics that cover psychology. She can often be found reading, practicing mindfulness, or redecorating her house while listening to easy jazz. And her favorite color is aqua blue :)