Tips for Choosing Your Perfect Yoga Practice

The practice of yoga is ancient, dating back approximately 5000 years. It was brought to the West in the late 1800s and has continued to gain popularity since then. It is not surprising that more and more westerners have taken up the practice when you consider the many benefits of yoga practice.

Scientific studies have shown that yoga practice has a significant effect on stress and anxiety, actively reducing cortisol levels in the body. In one study focused on a group of PTSD patients, a regular yoga practice was so effective that at the end of the study many of the participants no longer met the clinical requirements for a PTSD diagnosis. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and have promising potential to affect clinical depression as well. The physical benefits of yoga are well documented including increasing strength, balance and flexibility, as well as easing arthritis pain and aiding in restorative sleep.

A choice to take up a yoga practice is a good one. Here is some information to help you get started.

Choose the Right Yoga for You

Not long ago the practice of yoga was pursued only by spiritual seekers and non-conformists. But with the benefits of yoga so widely accepted, you no longer need to practice veganism or have solar panels installed on your house to be the kind of person who practices. You do need to take into consideration which form of yoga is best for you. 

For those seeking a gentle workout a traditional Hatha Yoga practice may be what you’re looking for. Hatha yoga is great for beginners as it tends to be gentle and slow moving. Vinyasa yoga could be good as well; however make sure you start with a beginner flow as more advanced routines can be quite physically challenging.

If you are dealing with various physical limitations you might want to check out Iyengar Yoga. Iyengar places a great deal of focus on proper form and alignment and uses a variety of props to support practitioners. Restorative yoga is focused solely on relaxation and gentle stretching and can be great for those recovering from injury.

If what you want is a vigorous workout, advanced Vinyasa demands constant movement and can be a great cardiovascular challenge. Ashtanga yoga may be one of the most physically demanding practices and is not the best choice for a beginner. Power Yoga class, as it’s name implies, also gives it’s practitioners a challenging workout.

Where To Practice

Some forms of yoga really should be learned through a class headed up by an experienced teacher. Most injuries gotten through yoga are caused by the practitioner engaging in improper form or pushing themselves too far, too early in their practice. Iyengar yoga is a very precise form and demands the presence of a live teacher and the physical challenges of a practice such as Ashtanga is best undertaken with a teacher who can be sure you don’t overdo it.

Practices such as Hatha, beginner Vinyasa, and restorative yoga can easily be learned at home. You can utilize instructional DVDs, but there are many streaming platforms that offer yoga instruction as well. A streaming service such as Gaia or Yoga Anytime is a great way to sample a variety of yoga classes to help you find the one that really works for you.

Necessary Equipment

One of the many great things about yoga is that most forms don’t require much equipment. You can get a great yoga mat on Amazon or at your local Walmart, and that is really all you need. You can invest is other props that might make yoga more accessible for you, but they aren’t required. 

If you’ve never done yoga, its many benefits make it something you should try out. You can get a taste of many different forms through one of the streaming services you already have and make the decision whether to find a class once you’ve chosen the type of yoga that works best for your goals and personal needs.

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