Yoga: Release your Endorphines Naturally
What is Yoga:
Yoga falls under the group of “Alternative and Complementary health therapies or medicine”.
Originally designed as a path to spiritual enlightenment, It is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines. Yoga originated in Northern India by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization more that 5,000 years ago, however some researchers believe that its practices may date back 10,000 years. The Yoga Practices stems from the Vedas – the Indian holy texts that were composed around 1900BC. His “eight limbs” of yoga still inform practices today and discuss posture, breathing, meditation and correct living. Ashtanga which is a popular form of yoga, means “eight limbs” (ashta-eight and anga-limb). These eight steps are guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life.
- Yama deals with ethical standards and integrity. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The five Yama’s are: Nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-covetousness.
- Niyama has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances, including religious or meditation practices. The five Niyama’s are: cleanliness, contentment, heat or spiritual austerities, study of sacred scriptures and of yourself, surrender to God.
- Asana are the postures practiced in Yoga.
- Pranayama is translated as ‘breath control’ and relates to techniques designed to gain control over the respiratory process.
- Pratyahara means withdrawal or sensory transcendence.
- Dharana is the stage of concentration. This is where periods concentration will lead to meditation, each stage leads to the next.
- Dhyana is meditation or contemplation, this is the uninterrupted flow of concentration.
- Samadhi is the final stage and described as a state of ecstasy.
Different Styles of Yoga:
Hatha is the most common of practices however it is actually not a specific style of yoga, like Ashtanga. Hatha actually describes all the physical practices of yoga. Hatha is a slow paced practice of yoga with stretches and breathing exercises included.
Vinyasa is still a beginner style of yoga with a little more movement incorporated than Hatha. Poses incorporated in this style, Upward Facing Dog to Downward Facing Dog.
Ashtanga is well structured and challenging, this is a good choice for the advanced or athletic type.
Kundalini Yoga is a very old form of yoga, it is focused on a combination of poses and breathing. The poses are performed with certain breathing techniques which intensify the workout. Kundalini yoga is as much a spiritual and mental practice as it is a physical one.
Bikram or Hot Yoga takes place in a room that is heated to 40deg celcius, with a humidity level of 40%. It is usually performed in a flowing style, which means that poses are smooth and linked to each other. The reason behind the heat, is that it is believed to losen the muscles, promoting greater flexibility. Bikram is a sub-type of hot yoga, it includes 26 poses that are performed in a hot room.
4 main Paths of yoga are – karma (serve), bhakti (love), jnana (meditate) and raja (realise). These paths are seen as separate and different, suited to different people and addressing their individual approaches to life, however all the paths leads ultimately to the same destination – a union with God.
Benefits of Yoga:
Yoga is becoming more and more popular by the day, no wonder when there are so many benefits, all of which lead to feeling healthier and happier and we all want a bit of that. The great thing about yoga is that it targets all areas – your core, arms, legs, glutes and back. Here are a few benefits that you can expect to experience if regularly practicing yoga. Not all of these will happen after the first few classes, you will have to stick at it to reap the benefits.
- Lower Stress Levels
- Anxiety and depression relief – this happens naturally when you regularly get your heart rate into the aerobic range
- Increases flexibility which helps with posture and supporting your back.
- Strengthens muscles to help up with back pain and protect from conditions such as arthritis.
- Lower Blood pressure
- Increases blood flow
- Improved lung Capacity
- Drains lymph’s and boosts immunity
- Improved sexual function
- Reduced chronic neck pain
- Relief from chronic back pain
- Lower Blood Sugar Levels in Diabetics, yes yoga lowers your cortisol levels and regulates your adrenal glands.
- Improves your sense of balance
- Strengthens Bones to help ward off osteoporosis.
- Protects your spine when practicing forward bends, back bends, and twists by keeping your discs supple.
- Maintains Healthy weight
- Lowers your risk of Heart disease
- Helps Focus, studies have found that regular yoga improves co-ordination, reaction time and memory.
- Improved Brain function
- Helps you sleep on a deeper level
Give Yoga a go, with so many Benefits to feeling and looking healthier, it does much more than chill you out and help with your flexibility.