The Yoga Basics

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Over the years I have been experimenting with different styles of yoga, I go through stages when I really get into a type of yoga and then life will get in the way and I find myself drifting away from it which is annoying as I LOVE YOGA! My resolution this year is to make sure that I make time to do much more yoga as doing things that we enjoy is key to creating vitality. If you are new to yoga or even if you are an experienced yogi, over the coming weeks we will be getting the lowdown on all things yoga and I will be getting hands-on experience to reignite my love for this amazing mind-body therapy. We will also be meeting some of the experts in the field and hearing what they have to say.

Most people now know what yoga is all about – that it involves stretching, breathing, a sequence of some sort and that it’s very relaxing. This is all true, however it also offers so much more and also every type of yoga offers its unique style and trademark benefit. Nowadays there are so many types of yoga and there is literally a style to cater for everyone. So whether you are looking for something super relaxing like Hatha yoga which focuses more on breathe work; or something more dynamic and fast-paced like Bikram or Ashtanga; or perhaps Kundalini which incorporates meditation and mantras into the practice – the important thing is that you find a yoga practice that is going to work for you and sometimes this will mean trying a few types before you find the right one. Give it a whirly-twirl and see how fantastic it is!

Today I want to introduce you to Hatha yoga which is one of the gentlest forms of yoga which involves various basic postures and simple breathing exercises, so it is a great class for those new to yoga who want to see what it is all about. It is very slow-paced and very tranquil so don’t expect to break a sweat in this class but do expect to leave feeling super relaxed and calm. In Hatha yoga, the aim is to get the body into a meditative state, where it can unwind and truly start to loosen up and let go of the stresses of the day. The postures focus on lengthening out the muscles so that they can gain flexibility and strength; this is what makes it such a fantastic whole body workout. It helps to tone internal organs and opens up the energy channels of the body which is why so many people benefit from yoga and why it has helped to alleviate many ailments.

I also wanted to share something else about yoga which many people may not be aware of – something that I have only learned recently myself! There are actually 8 limbs of yoga and what this means is that each ‘limb’ relates to an aspect of achieving a healthy and fulfilling life. Yoga is a holistic practice and these 8 limbs communicate the whole philosophy behind yoga – the mind, body, spirit aspect that makes yoga such a unique and transforming therapy. The yoga that we know and love, usually focuses on the postures (the Asanas) and the breathing (the Pranayama) and for many this is where it stops. There are however another 6 limbs which make up the yoga practice and these are as follows:

1)  Yama: this a set of 5 moral behavioural traits which should be adopted towards others. To be compassionate towards others and not inflict injury or harm to yourself or others; to only speak and think the truth; to not be envious or steal from others; to have a sense of control and be able to abstain (especially from sexual relations) and lastly to not be greedy or take more than we have earned.

2)  Niyama: this is a set of 5 ethical guidelines that one should adopt towards themselves. Cleanliness of the body and mind; feeling contented with what you have; being in control of our own body and energy and not giving in to urges; self-reflection and self-awareness; to worship god and set aside time each day to become attuned with a force higher than yourself.

3)  Pratyahara: this relates to taking control of your senses and disengaging your senses from attachment to external objects so that you are not distracted by these. Much of the time we are so focused on external stimulation and influenced by outside events that we can never achieve complete stillness or inner peace.

4)  Dharana: this is having the ability to take control of the mind and focus your attention in one direction in order to allow for self-reflection and contemplation.

5)  Dhyana: this is about meditation and being able to concentrate on one particular thing and not wavering from that thing.

6)  Samadhi: this basically means ‘union’ and ‘bringing together’. It is a state of consciousness which is brought about by complete stillness of the body and mind through meditation.

Yoga is an all-encompassing therapy as well as being a form of exercise. Many people have seen profound changes in both their physical body and mental attitude. So wherever you are at in your health journey, give it a go as you may love it like me!

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Michelle is a qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist, Reflexologist and Reiki practitioner who is passionate about living a holistic lifestyle and helping others to achieve their health goals. She is also a Jungle Body Dance Fitness Instructor, which not only keeps her fit but also helps her to inspire others to feel confident and get in shape.

1 Comment

  1. sarahkrish

    April 7, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Great Read!

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