Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that is practised around the world as a pathway to developing the body, mind and spirit.
As you learn yoga, you should find that you will have lower levels of anxiety, improved mood, and more energy. This, in turn, enables you to focus on your spirituality and faith and helps you to achieve balance and happiness in your life.
Yoga has its roots in ancient Asian culture, but has now become hugely popular in the West as a way of improving our mental and physical well-being.
In the past, many people in the UK were hesitant about the idea of practising yoga because they had misunderstandings about what it really is.
There has been a popular misconception that yoga is a religious belief, and that taking part in yoga session required you to abandon your current religion. Some even viewed yoga as some sort of cult-like religion, where the followers stand around chanting all day!
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth - the idea that yoga promotes a specific religious belief, or insists that you abandon yours is completely wrong. Yoga has no dogma and isn’t a religion - it is simply a series of exercises that helps you relax and nurture your body and mind.
However, the fact that yoga isn’t a religion, doesn't mean it can't fit in well with your current religious beliefs. It doesn’t matter which religion you practice, yoga doesn’t require that you renounce your faith or replace it with other beliefs. Nothing offered in yoga is contradictory or competitive to the beliefs you already hold.
Yoga provides a way to harness your inner focus, as well as strengthening the body and mind.
There are many benefits to be gained from practising yoga, both physical and mental. The art of yoga can help yogis and yoginis to cope better with tension and stress.
The word yoga comes from the ancient Sanskrit language and its translation means 'to direct the attention'. Hence, through yoga, we can focus our attention on ourselves and strive for an inner source of happiness, in the quest to see ourselves as just one small part of a giant universe.
The challenge is to unite with this large entity and become one with something that is bigger than us - and through this union that will ultimately be able to feel complete and learn to live in true happiness.
There are many physical benefits to be enyoyed by practicing yoga - these include reduced tension in your muscles and stabilisation of your heart rate, blood pressure and hypertension, Yoga can also provide relief from many medical issues, including allergies and asthma.
While the physical benefits of yoga - such as increased flexibility, strength and generally improved health and well-being - are widely acknowledged, the emotional benefits are often less recognised.
The benefits to the mind and well-being of those who practice yoga are at the core of the most important aspects of it. Through the use of yoga, you can learn to free yourself of negative feelings so you can open up to self-acceptance and a healthier emotional state and inner harmony.
Many people consider this the most important benefit of practicing yoga - through yoga techniques they achieve a state of mental calmness which allows them to function better in their life.
With less stress, yoga students can feel less anxiety and have a generally improved sense of well-being. The inner focus which yoga encourages helps regulate breathing and blood flow, further reducing stress and anxiety.
As we learn to focus on our inner thoughts, we learn to accept ourselves. Self acceptance ultimately leads to more self control, as we become more in tune with what makes our bodies feel good and function well.
Inner focus allows us to see the negativity we all carry inside ourselves and opens up the opportunity to make changes in our behavior that can bring us a greater sense of peace and tranquility.
Through yoga you can learn how to release your tension and negative thoughts, improve your outlook on life and be more positive in everything you do.
Another very important benefit of yoga is its use in pain management. The combination of meditation, yoga breathing techniques and relaxation has had a proven track record of bringing relief to those who suffer from chronic pain.
Yoga provide a way for you to distract your mind from any aches and pains - doing so reduces the tension caused from chronic pain and helps many yoga students move past the pain.
Yoga is most definitely not a miracle cure, but it does help to calm the constant chattering of the brain. When you learn to do this, you can look inside yourself and have the ability to see problems more clearly.
When a yoga student is able to recognise and understand these negative energies, it becomes possible to deal with them in a healthy way. This enlightened self-awareness can then allow a yoga practitioner to create positive changes in their life.
With yoga, your mind and body are synchronised with each other, thereby helping to eliminate any confusion or conflicts that may arise in your life. It also plays a key role in helping to reduce the levels of stress most of us have to deal with on a daily basis.
Stress is one of the top health issues that affect people physically, mentally and emotionally. Since yoga combines breathing, stretching, meditation and fitness all in one package, it provides the maximum benefit for people dealing with stress.
Yoga is not just about exercise - it also helps you learn to achieve balance in your emotional being. This is done through removing yourself from some conditions, or even people, that bring you unnecessary pain, grief or drama in your life.