When most people think of yoga they visualize people in calming, meditative poses chanting a mantra. However, it can actually be a great form of exercise for fitness.
Who Can Do Yoga
Anyone can learn yoga and benefit from it whether they start as small children or wait until old age to begin. The best way to learn yoga is from a teacher, but you can also practice with a video.
Because yoga offers a holistic approach, it works gradually to strengthen and harmonize the whole body. Many athletes who consider themselves fit, find that they are unable to do some yoga poses. As you practice yoga your flexibility increases and you find yourself becoming more limber and supple. It also helps you to relax and can lower your blood pressure and improve your immune system, increasing your sense of balance and strengthening your muscles. It integrates the body with the mind and many people find that they also benefit emotionally and spiritually from yoga practice. Yoga can even help conditions like asthma and osteoporosis and because you gently stretch your body you might even stand taller too!
Types Of Yoga
From Hatha yoga which is a traditional gentle form of yoga to the more modern power yoga and Birkam or hot yoga offered in many gyms you can find a form of yoga and a yoga teacher to suit you. Hatha yoga is very suitable for children and older people whereas power and hot yoga appeals to people who are looking for a more strenuous cardio-vascular workout.
Hatha Yoga may be gentle but don't be fooled. Hatha yoga's gentle approach still gives you lots of fitness benefits, especially by reducing your stress levels and your body tension. 80% of all illness is caused by stress according to the British Medical Association so by reducing your stress you can improve your overall health. Research shows that after only a couple of months you can really feel the benefits of yoga, even if you are over 65 and never been one for much exercise.
Power yoga on the other hand really gives you a work-out that even experienced hatha yoga practitioners can find challenging. Instead of moving gently from pose to pose and holding each one while you breathe slowly; power yoga doesn't stop for a rest. You move quickly from pose to pose so if you're not so fit, make sure you start in a slow beginners class until you've learned the special breathing techniques and built up your stamina.
Birkam yoga or hot yoga is becoming very popular with the celebrity crowd. It is done in a heated room (around 104F) and so the sweat just pours off you and with it, your body toxins. However, if you have any medical problems or aren't fit, ask your doctor's advice before joining a hot yoga class. Pregnant women also shouldn't do hot yoga as it can raise your core body temperature too much.
Where To Find A Class
Yoga is very egalitarian and you can find a yoga class in a gym, a community hall, or even a teacher's back yard. There are classes for everyone and every level of fitness and experience. You can even find on-line classes and DVD's so you can practice between classes. Just wear loose clothing, bring a yoga mat to class and discover a new and fitter you.