The Benefits of Yoga

There are many benefits of yoga to be experienced when you decide to practice this ancient art form.

The western hemisphere has adopted the practice of Yoga over the past few decades. We have adapted all different types of yoga including vinyasa yoga, bikram yoga (a form of hot yoga), laughing yoga, power yoga, partner yoga, restorative yoga, Iyengar yoga and tantric yoga just to name a few.

Before I list some of the benefits of yoga, I would like to give you a little bit of the history of yoga.

Yoga is around 6500 years old. The earliest recorded form of yoga was a deeply introspective and meditative practice that focused on sacrificial rituals. It progressed from there to ask deeper questions about the meaning of a spiritual life. In essence, yoga was a way of passing on wisdom from the teacher to his students.

There are 8 limbs of classical yoga. They are:

  • Yama - the five virtues: noninjury, truthfulness, nonstealing, Godlike conduct and nonclinging
  • Niyama - the five observances of one's own physical appearance, actions, words and thoughts that govern our relationship with ourselves
  • Asana - the postures - the physical practice that is most familiar to us in the western hemisphere
  • Pranayama - breathwork that helps the yoga master the life force
  • Pratyahara - withdrawal of the senses, mind and consciousness, focus inward on the self
  • Dharana - focused concentration
  • Dhyana - meditation
  • Samadhi - merging with the divine; self-realization.

The word Yoga means "union" and it is achieved by working on all of the above 8 limbs or sections.

The asanas or postures came along at a much later date. This is what most of the western world practices.

Kathy McAlpine Terpstra Yoga Tree Pose

The Real Benefits of Yoga

Now that you know a very brief history of Yoga, let's get to what it can do for you!

As you can see by the 8 limbs of yoga, it is a way of life as opposed to just a class here and there. If you are truly living a yogic lifestyle, you are always working on your self.

The main physical benefits of yoga include:

  • stress relief
  • relaxation
  • improved flexibility and mobility
  • lowered blood pressure
  • increased circulation
  • improved balance
  • improved strength
  • improved hand-eye coordination
  • increased ENERGY
  • better posture
  • improved range of motion
  • anxiety and depression decreases

and this is just a list of the major benefits that you will see by practicing yoga!

I know that I feel a very different shift in my energy after a class. I have taken time for myself; to reflect inward and honour my body and my mind.

Types of Yoga

With the explosion of Yoga in North America, there have been many different types of Yoga spring up.

You have most likely heard of Hot Yoga, Bikram's Yoga, Kundalini, Yin Yoga, Power Yoga and Vinyasa to name a few.

It's important to talk to an instructor to determine which class you should try. I suggest that you try all different classes until you find a style that suits you. There is no "bad Yoga" however you will get many different benefits from the various styles out there.

I prefer to teach and participate in a Vinyasa style Yoga. Vinyasa Yoga simply means "flowing" yoga. As the name suggests, the poses flow from one posture to the next. I find that I am able to keep my focus inward with this type of class. If I am constantly getting up and getting down, it breaks my concentration.

Hot Yoga is another of my choices. Bikram Yoga was the first to practice in a room heated to 105 degrees. Bikram has a set list of postures that are performed in a sequence. Hot Yoga is an off-shoot of this style in which the postures are not set in stone and there are fewer rules. One thing to be careful of with any heated Yoga is that your muscles will be much more pliable (stretchy) than usual and you can sometimes incur an injury because you have gone into a pose too deep for your body. Make sure you talk to the studio staff before engaging in one of these styles of Yoga.

Kathy McAlpine Terpstra Yoga Cobra pose

Wherever you are in the world, I invite you to take up Yoga. There are so many benefits that you can experience.

Check out my schedule to see if a class works for you!

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