WHAT IS YOGA?
Yoga is definitely the most holistic and ancient system for spiritual, mental and physical health and well-being know to man. The principles of yoga include lifestyle choices and practices to help an individual discover and understand his or her identity and relationship with the world and to come to a place of complete harmony with all. Yoga is a complete lifestyle system, starting with Asana (poses), breathing practices, diet and meditation to bring about huge benefits on all levels, that are wholly unique to Yoga.
Yoga exercises or poses also known as “asanas” make up the foundations of the overall system of yoga that is designed for the main purpose of maintaining optimal health for all of our muscles, joints, and internal organs so that we can then focus on other higher branches of the yoga system such as meditation, self-awareness and self-realization
Yoga exercises or poses over time have become a popular method and style of physical activity in society today, with a number of new classes and new styles popping up all over the world. The exercises starts from basic techniques for controlling and manipulating the breath to head stands and advanced poses that you might have come across on the internet or on the covers of magazines. Whatever class you decide to attend, there is large variety of poses and options for all levels from beginner to advanced and all age groups. Whether you’re looking to practice yoga to improve your physical activity and physical health, to learn to improve your focus, or to relieve high levels of stress, there are many benefits from a regular yoga practice that will extend well beyond the yoga studio you practice in and your yoga mat.
The Benefits of Practicing Yoga
As well the almost countless health benefits, yoga asana is also known to help develop a sense of mindful eating, weight management, increase in flexibility and muscle mass. Beyond the physical benefits, yoga asana is also well known for reducing anxiety and stress, improving focus and concentration and improving general quality of life. The focus on breath during a yoga class is known to cause a reduction in the release of stress hormones throughout the body, lower cortisol levels and assist people who suffer insomnia.
Most Yoga classes will place as least some sort of emphasis on improving your flexibility. As you learn to relax as you stretch, you will be able to bring yourself to your edge and move deeper into the stretches and poses within the yoga sequence. By improving flexibility and range of motion of some of your major muscle and fascia groups, joints and ligaments, blood flow can then more easily reach all areas of the body, helping to provide nourishment through the body, flushing out toxins and keeping the cells of your body vital.
If you’re thinking about trying to build lean muscle mass and strength, yoga is a fantastic option. Instead of lifting heavy weights in the gym in order to build up strength, yoga will use the weight of your own body to work the muscles by putting you into various poses and orientations where you need to use your muscles and your core to support your own body weight. Of course this level of physicality will depend on the type or style of yoga you choose to practice. If you are looking for a more strength based class that incorporates strong poses and a cardio work out, ashtanga yoga or Vinyasa yoga would be two of your best options. If you feel like a mix between a strength based and a more slow moving class with deep stretches you could try out a class like our Yin Yang class which is a mix of strength poses and deep stretches.
Finding balance both Mentally and physically is essential for many of the poses that are held and practiced throughout a yoga sequence. When attempting to hold a balance pose in yoga asana class or while sitting practicing meditation, it is useful to keep the gaze fixed on one point out in front of you (drishti). During yoga poses, once the drishti is found, you can move slowly and mindfully into your yoga pose. This mindful movement encourages and develops balance both as you enter the pose, as you hold yourself there while softening the gaze on a point of focus and as you release from the pose
CALMNESS AND CLARITY OF THE MIND
Learning to bring focus to your breathing during your yoga practice takes practice and patience. As you progress with this practice, you may also notice that by focusing on your breath, you are also bringing your awareness to the present moment, releasing thoughts about the future and the past. This practice is one that is slowly developed over time, however, clarity and calmness of the mind is often developed when we are able to release the negative and nagging thoughts that come from our busy lives. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the to-do lists and stresses of day to day life that often take over our mind, the practice of yoga will help us observe our thoughts and release those that do not serve us to the best of our potential.
INCREASED FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION
The practice of yoga asana requires a lot of both physical and mental concentration. As you progress you will learn to bring your awareness to your breathing whilst you move through a sequence of poses. Practicing awareness of your breathe and body movements is a useful tool that can be used off the mat to help you increase your concentration in many of your day-to-day activities.
According to many studies on the effects of meditation, when we engage in any type of meditative practice, we are in reality beginning to rewire the neural pathways in our brain. As you meditate, the neural connections inside the brain begin to loosen. After meditation, when there is a fear or habitual response induced, you will no longer have such strong set neural pathways that tie you down to a certain sensation or reaction – meaning that you will be able to see the problem more clearly for what it actually is without automatically thinking or reacting in a certain way that you are used to, and as a result reducing anxiety.
YOGA IS FOR ALL AGE GROUPS
One of the main benefits of yoga is that it is your own practice. No matter your fitness level or your age, you can always begin a yoga practice that serves you personally. We must remember that no two bodies or minds are exactly the same, and as you learn to listen to your body you will begin to take notice and realize what poses are easy for you, which are more challenging and which poses leave you feeling energized and which poses leave feeling completely relaxed. You begin to notice how your body responds to different sequences and what the poses, breath and meditation reveal about your body and your thoughts. No matter what your age or background, your practice is not something you need to fit, but rather a practice should be formed to fit you.
Yoga was originally developed in India about 5000 or so years ago as a spiritual practice, but since has evolved and developed into different styles, with different teachers and into different parts of the world. So much so that many people have forgotten or do not know its real origins anymore.
According to the early yogis, true happiness, liberation and enlightenment comes from union with the divine consciousness that is present deep within each of us waiting to be discovered. The practice of yoga was a means for reaching the divine consciousness by using postures breathing techniques and mindfulness to purify the mind, body and spirit so that the yogi can attain union.
Yoga is not about self-absorption. Yoga is about being in the world. Although most books, videos and websites focus on yoga postures, breathing and meditation, the tradition also emphasizes love, compassion, knowledge and right action as paths toward union.
Whether you pursue yoga as a spiritual path or for its psycho-physiological benefits, yoga is a methodology for developing a deeper experience of yourself and the world.
And don’t forget it makes you feel really…really good.
When it comes to Yoga Chiang Mai offers the perfect setting of beauty and tranquility
So Come and pay us a visit for your daily dose of yoga, we offer a flexible program with something to suit everyone. From traditional Hatha yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Yin Yoga, Pilates, Meditation, Workshops, Private Classes, Beginner yoga course and Community classes.