yoga: what the heck is it?

An intro, overview and kinda summation of this huge practice yogis consider life, courtesy

What is Yoga?
Yoga began in India about 5,000 years ago as a way to work the mind, body and spirit together as one. Since then, several studies have shown an active yoga lifestyle can help treat dozens of conditions including high blood pressure, mood disorders, diabetes and carpal tunnel syndrome. A typical yoga class lasts 60 to 75 minutes and starts with a warm-up period of slow steady breathing and stretching. It gradually works up to 30 minutes of deep stretching, longer pose-holding movements and then wraps up with 15 to 20 minutes of relaxation exercises.

Types of Yoga
There are dozens of yoga disciplines around the world. Each has its own philosophy and each moves at a different pace. Some of the most popular in the US include:

Easily the most popular type of yoga in the US, Hatha yoga is a great way for beginners to get into the activity. Workouts are slower and easier on joints and the focus is on controlling breathing and stretching.

This is another form of yoga that’s good for beginners. Like Hatha, movements between poses are slow and steady, but in Lyengar, the focus is less on breathing and more on balance and holding poses.

Growing in popularity over the past decade, Bikram is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees F, with the main objective of loosening muscles (to encourage deep stretching) and to sweat out impurities. In general, Bikram is not recommended for anyone with heart or cardiovascular problems (because of the temperature of the room combined with the intensity of the exercise).

Known as power yoga, this is one of the most hardcore yoga practices. Instead of focusing on slow and steady movements or pace, Ashtanga is like a weight-lifting course where the sole focus is on strength building and endurance.

For more, including who benefits and tips on getting the most from your classes, click here.

Mar 19, 2009 · Comment

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