Why is Yoga Good For You?
I want to introduce you to Yoga in a simple way and explain to you why Yoga is good for you even as a beginner.
I only took up Yoga about 5 Years ago when I started to open my own studios and it was my way of understanding my teachers and seeing if they would be right for my business. Before this I had always thought that Yoga was very ‘hippy like’ you had to ‘be like and tree’ and it was far too complicated. I would therefore like to share with you my understanding and less complicated. In otherwise my simple yoga for beginners which I hope will help.
My first experiences were with a type of Baptiste Yoga which I enjoyed as I have always been highly active and sporty, so this was very powerful and moving. I then explored a Hatha Yoga class which was very strength based as you held postures for a long time. I also tried Yin Yoga which was more to do with lengthening the muscles in the lower body.
It is fair to say that all these types of Yoga gave me something different and encouraged me to explore Yoga a lot more. I continue to practice Yoga daily and do various types depending on what I believe my body needs at that time.
I therefore want to help you to understand Yoga a little more so that you can make choices for yourself about what can help you.
History of Yoga
So, we probably all know that Yoga has been around for an exceptionally long time, but I am not to sure if you were aware that it has been around for over 5,000 years and originated in India.
It was in the 1920’s when archaeologists discovered the Indus Civilisations. These people were recorded as being the largest ancient civilisation from where the earliest findings of yoga through this population were found.
It was at this time that they found the motto of yoga inscribed into the walls which translated read
“Traditional Yoga seeks to provide answers to some profound questions such as
Who Am I?
Whence Do I Come?
Whither Do I Go?
What Must I Do?”
These questions are something that we all sooner or later ask ourselves.
What Is Yoga?
In its original form Yoga promotes awareness in all forms including self which essentially will give us the opportunity to make conscious and better choices through our daily life.
Early Yoga can be put into 4 categories from early times
Earliest known texts to Hinduism. The word Veda means knowledge and were based around the following
It was mainly about the inner focus and sacrifice which connected the ritual life of ancient Indians. This inner focusing is the root of Yoga.
Existed for over 2000 years until the 2nd century A.D. Developed around Yoga Scriptures and the Vedic teachings of sacrifice.
One of the most significant Yoga scriptures is Bhagavad-Gita (Lords Song) with one of the main characters being Lord Krishna. The script was composed of 700 verses and became a high importance to Hindus.
Its main message is “To Be Alive and To Be Active”. The worked on the techniques of achieving deep meditation.
Also known as Raja Yoga taught by Pantanjali in his Yoga – Sutra. He believed that everyone was a composite of Matter and Spirit. They worked on the idea of separation to restore the spirit.
Raja Yoga taught an 8 Fold Ashtanga Yoga
Postures – Asana
Breathing – Pranayama
Senses – Pratyahana
Concentration – Dharana
Meditation – Dhyana
Absorption – Samadhi
Post Classical Yoga
In contrast to Classical Yoga, Post Classical Yoga affirms the unity of everything and probes the hidden potential of the body.
The teachings included trying to exit the body consciously to leave the world behind and merge with the spirit.
Under the influence of alchemy Yoga Masters created a system of practices to rejuvenate the body and prolong life. They explored the possibility of energising the physical body to the extent that its biochemistry is changed and even its basic matter is reorganized to tender it immortal.
These early teachings paved the way to the early teachings of Hatha Yoga as we know it today.
The earliest known teachings have come from Chicago in the USA in 1993 from a gentleman known as Swami Vivekananda (Swami Master). He was initially invited to parliament where he soon became a very popular diplomat. He spent his time traveling around the world attracting many students to Yoga and Vedanta (six sacred Indian philosophies).
He really opened the doors for many eastern Gurus
Swami Rama Tirtha
William Atkinson & Baba Bharata
A Russian born Yogini Indra Devi (First Lady of Yoga) brought Yoga to the mainstream when she opened a studio in Hollywood in 1947. She taught a number of stars such as Gloria Swanson, Robery Ryan, Marilyn Monroe and trained 100’s of teachers.
Other people who have helped to bring Yoga to the mainstream was
1960/1970 Swami Sivandra who was trained by a Himalayan Master
1970/1980 Guru Bhagaven Rajneesh (Osho) who was very controversial as he taught a type of freedom of sexual depression to enable them to develop their deeper processes of yoga.
The Dalai Lama supported Non Violence and was a Nobel Peace Prize Winner was himself a great Yogi for modern Tibet.
The Dalai Lama stated that the Principal of Yoga can be brought into everyone’s busy daily life and also into politics.
Tibetan Buddhism also practiced a form of Tantra Yoga and recognised the fact that there was a variety of Yoga which practiced different areas of our being such as
Effects on the mind
The Dalai Lama was a huge supporter of Yoga combined with the Training of The Mind.
The Yoga that we are experiencing today is somewhat different to the ancient Indian teachings and has increased in its popularity from a commercial level in as much as a spiritual level.
The Yoga of today is mainly based on Asana Transitions and Yogic Postures with not many teachings around the philosophies of the ancient traditions. Only good Yoga Teachers study Sciences of Meditation and the Asana Transitions.
Long gone are the days when it took you over 8 years of practice before you could teach Yoga. Nowadays in this commercial world teachers only need to study their practice for a minimum of 200 hours before they can go out and teach.
So how has Yoga changed and what are the different types as it has now feels so much more complicated.
The Different Types Of Yoga
This is the traditional type of physical yoga that people are more aware of. It practices Postures (Asanas) and is more gentle and slower. You will generally spend more time in a pose and work on alignment of the body to perfect your postures.
This is a lot more dynamic and was created by a gentleman called Pattabhi Jois. He developed a Series of 6 Asanas, with every student practicing the primary Series. The class is made of the same sets of sequences Mysore Style and allows each student to work to their own pace so not so much leading by an instructor.
It is perfect for those people who enjoy a more vigorous yoga and are very disciplined in their daily practice. There are also some postures involved.
Created by B.K.S Iyengar whose philosophy was about The Power of Yoga to Heal Body & Mind with Precision and Focused Alignment.
There is a small amount of postures in this practice and the class relies on props such as blocks, belts, and straps to develop these holds in the correct alignment.
It is about mindful and precise detail in the practice of postures.
Is always done in a heated room and Bikram Yoga is probably one of the most well-known of these.
The heat is supposed to allow your muscles to relax and release to enable you to achieve a deeper stretch.
The heat will also elevate the heart rate and boost blood circulation which gives an intensified workout.
It is very dynamic and vigorous.
This is a type of Hatha Yoga created by an American John Friend in 1997. He taught flowing with grace which was also described as the celebration of the divine in every being.
Incorporates Vinyasa Style Sequences of flowing movements connected to your breathing. There are also longer holds in a pose. Spiritual meditation and intention are also part of this practice.
Therefore, this type of yoga incorporates the Physical, Mental and Spiritual Level.
Created from the teachings of Swami Sivananda and is a Hindu Spiritual Yoga. Based on a type of Hatha Yoga and prioritises Physical Health and Wellbeing of each student.
Included in Sivananda Yoga are Sun Salutations, 12 Key Postures, Full Yogic Breathing and includes an element of relaxation.
Its teachings emphasize the importance of exercise, breathing, meditation and diet for optimum health.
Introduced in 1980 from New York Yoga Teachers and again based on a type of Hatha Yoga.
Includes 5 Tenets of Jivamukti Yoga and classes are usually physically vigorous and integrates elements of
Scripture – Spiritual Teaching
Devotion – Humility and honour of a Higher Being
Kindness – Nonviolence for self and other beings
Music – Eclectic soundtrack for charity and inner listening
Meditation – Stillness and witness of mind and thought.
This type of Yoga is a blend of physical and spiritual practices which are energising and uplifting.
Principle of this type of Yoga is to increase vitality and consciousness. Here you will awaken the Kundalini Energy which is known to be dormant in the base of the spine and draw it up through the body.
This Yoga practices a transformation of the mind and awareness of your physical health.
Is a Chinese Philosophy where everything in the Universe contains balance of complementary and opposite forces Yin and Yang.
Hatha Yoga is a Yang in its nature and is energetic, dynamic, and muscular.
Yin Yoga is the opposite with a slower, deeper, and more passive approach.
Postures are held for a lot longer with little or no muscular effort. The idea is that it stimulates the connective tissue and fascia working deeply into the pelvis, hips, and lower body.
It is very meditative and mindful and is supposed to be the balance from a hectic Yang Lifestyle.
Baptiste Yoga – Vinyassa Yoga
Started in 1974 from a gentleman by the name of Baron Walt Baptiste and is a type of Power Yoga. The idea is to free your personal statue with the thought that all you need is already within you. It is about finding yourself by executing the emerging radiant self already inside you.
The practice allows you to empower, strengthen, stretch both body and mind.
3 Elements make up this class which follows a structure that is physically movement based incorporating breathing sequences to match.
Benefits Of Yoga
Hopefully through some examples of yoga that I have shown you here you can make up your own mind as to what yoga could mean for you.
I realised that for me the benefits are about the following
Focus – Allows me to go with the flow of energy at the time
Variety – No set rules to yoga and mixing it up is fine
Push Your Limits – The ability to empower oneself
Cardiovascular – Especially when doing vinyasa flow
Strength – Works with own body weight
Mindfulness – Incorporates meditation and relaxation to calm and prepare
Fun – I do not take too seriously but understand the philosophy
Anyone can do this, and I am proof as I am no expert.
My journey with Yoga is one that I have really enjoyed, and it has helped me both mentally and physically. As a result, I have made it an important part of my life which I do every day.
Hopefully, I have given you a brief and simple explanation of where yoga has originated from and explain some varying types of yoga that exist today.
What I would suggest if you are interested is to initial explore the many types to find what might suit you best.
I believe that finding the right instructor that also understands the philosophies of the science behind yoga is important for a more all-round approach.
I hope you enjoy finding the yogi within you and please feel free to leave me your comments based on your journey. If you have any questions where you think I can help, please ask.