When you first start yoga, it can all seem a bit strange. The positions have funny names, it's all a bit mystical, and other people make it look so easy.
If you want to start yoga classes, it helps to have a little information up front - that way when you start a yoga class you have a better idea of what's going on, and can relax more.
The first thing to understand is the terms. Although there are numerous different styles, almost all are a combination of three elements:
Asanas (physical exercises and postures)
- Pranayama (breathing techniques)
The Asanas help to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and lead to a wonderful feeling of rejuvenation. Pranayama improves your breath awareness, increases lung capacity and improves breathing patterns, while the meditation is a great way to relax and unwind.
Although eastern yogis (expert practitioners) believe that the Asanas are simply a stepping stone to higher paths, and that working on the body alone is a waste of time, for many in the west it is enough to simply enjoy the many benefits that they confer. These include:
If you do want to pursue the more spiritual aspects of this wonderful activity, you will find that the Asanas teach poise, balance and strength, improving the body's physical health and clearing the mind for meditation and greater enlightenment.
- Increased strength, stamina and balance
- Improving the health and function of internal organs
- Stress relief and greater relaxation