What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India and encompasses a wide range of physical, mental and spiritual practices. The word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj,” which means to yoke or unite, suggesting the integration of mind and body. Yoga aims to promote overall well-being and harmony through various techniques including physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), meditation and ethical principles.
There are many different styles of yoga. The styles of yoga you can expect to practice at Castle Clinic are:
- Hatha yoga is a well-rounded, balanced style that combines postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama). You hold the postures for 5 to 10 breaths, focusing on finding the correct alignment and cultivating a balance of effort and ease in every pose.
- Vinyasa yoga is a modern version of Ashtanga and Hatha that includes many of the same poses but links them together into a dynamic, smooth, dance-like flow. You learn to move from pose to pose, connecting each one to each breath. It is also one of the most creative yoga methods, so expect every vinyasa class to be unique.
- Yin yoga involves long, deep floor stretches that target the deep connective tissues and activate the energy in the meridian channels. You typically hold each stretch for 3-5 minutes, using meditation practice and breathing techniques to remain focused and present.
Benefits of Practicing Yoga?
As yoga is about bringing the mind, body and soul into union, you can expect to gain a wide range of holistic benefits from a regular yoga practice, including:
- Improved flexibility – Yoga poses involve lengthening and stretching the muscles, tendons and ligaments. According to clinical studies, 10 weeks of regular yoga practice can bring you noticeable improvements in flexibility while enhancing overall mobility and reducing the risk of injuries.
- Enhanced strength – Many types of yoga practices work on strengthening the muscles as much as stretching them. Common poses like ‘plank pose’, ‘downward facing dog’ and advanced poses like ‘crow pose‘ are among the best for building body strength.
- Improved posture & balance – Many yoga poses help to open the chest and shoulders and promote a straight spine, which improves posture. Likewise, poses that require core stability, like ‘warrior 3’ and ‘boat pose’ improve balance.
- Chronic back pain reduction – Several studies demonstrate that yoga effectively reduces chronic low back pain and sciatica by easing pain intensity, strengthening the back muscles and improving spinal mobility.
- Increased productivity, creativity and focus.
- Increased circulation & energy levels.
- Reduced stress and anxiety.