Yoga has never been more highly profiled or practiced in the Western world than it is today, but for those new to the practice the proliferation of styles and teachers can be confusing.
Finding the right teacher and approach is important, as needs differ depending on age, lifestyle, body type and personality.
There are many different forms and styles of yoga - Hatha yoga is the form most often followed by Western yoga practitioners today. It is an integrated system of personal development, which enables those who practice to transcend the ups and downs of life, release tension and stress and maximize their potential.
The word "yoga" is translated from Sanskrit to mean "union"union of the body, mind and spirit. Yoga philosophy recognises that the body and mind are intimately connected and that for optimal health they must be in a state of balance. This mind-body integration is what helps Hatha yoga practitioners feel calm and centred, and is why it's recommended for stress reduction.
Some yoga for fitness styles popular today focus purely on the body a kind of Indian gymnastics. This misses the point of true yoga and meditation, which is to become centred and allow our natural state of inner radiance to shine through, regardless of external distractions.
Hatha yoga concentrates on three areas: - postures (asanas) breathing (pranayama) and meditation (dhyana). All three practices build on and complement one another to optimize health and still the endless chatter of the mind. Unlike most activities in today’s world, it is absolutely not competitive! It can benefit everyone, from super-fit athletes to those with varying degrees of disability, by encouraging us to listen to the body’s innate wisdom, which is always striving for balance.
Hatha Yoga refines and beautifies the body from the inside out. A well-balanced session will tone and strengthen every muscle and gently massage internal organs, while the breathing techniques calm the mind, strengthen the will, and improve concentration.
A well-trained, experienced teacher can teach you proper breathing and meditation techniques and specific postures, and can help you address your particular needs and physical limitations. Classes last 60 to 90 minutes, and beginners generally take one or two classes each week as they learn the basics and learn how to develop their own practice.