International yoga day presents an occasion for all organizations devoted to the promotion of Yoga to come forward and spread the message about the rewards of regular practice of yoga.

Everyone stands to gain from a regular practice of yoga no matter your age or body type. The long term benefits in health, happiness and well being are numerous. . We thought we would let you know just a few of the benefits, the type of practices available and what you can expect from them

Just a few of the benefits.

Improved flexibility of the most obvious benefits of yoga. During your first class, you probably won't be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if keep prancing you will loosen up, poses will become attainable and you will have better mobility.

Builds muscular strength which helps against conditions like arthritis and back pain, when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility not at the cost of it which can happen in the gym

It's well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. This weight bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps against osteoporosis.

Makes you happier Studies have found found that a consistent yoga practice improved depression and lead to a significant increase in serotonin levels and that has been correlated with greater levels of happiness and better immune

Increases Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs

With so many great benefits why would you not jump into the practice of yoga? But which one is right for you. Here is a guide to the types of yoga available.

There are so many kinds of yoga practices out there, it can be hard to know where to start.

Yoga is a broad system with many different detailed teachings and roots. The meaning of the word “yoga” means to yoke, or union, bringing together all the aspects of body, breath and mind, so that we can come back to our true self.

The main yoga practice that is familiar in the world today is asana, or yoga poses. Styles have adapted and developed to make it more accessible to so many people.

In the search to find a suitable practice, take into account that at various stages of life, years or even days, one style might speak to us more than others.

Here are some examples of various styles and their origins that might help you find the practice that is best suited for you.

All asana practice is derived from hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is the root from which Patanjali (an Indian sage and scholar) wrote The Yoga Sutras – a book of philosophy which is now used in many yoga traditions.

The word Hatha in Sanskrit comes from two words Ha (sun) and Tha (moon) and explores the duality within us - the yin and yang, the dark and the light.

Hatha yoga consists of a structured, foundational practice with its emphasis on breath and holding each pose for longer period of time.

Expect a slower moving practice with lots of key alignment ques for each posture. The hatha practice is perfect for beginners or those who are just starting out on their yoga journey.

The words Vinyasa means Sequence or specific placement. This practice is more fluid and dynamic with many transitions from pose to pose.

Expect a variety of sun salutations and linking the breath with the movement.

Vinyasa is a more modern form of yoga asana and is perfect for those who want a faster practice with less time to spend in each pose. This practice can challenge the way in which the breath is utilised.

Find a soft and gentle place to practice from with yin yoga. Each pose is held for 3-5 minutes or longer. Mediation and calming the mind is the focus of this practice.

Yin yoga focuses on the energy meridians of the body and improving their functions with specifically designed poses. Longer holds mean the body can replenish and open over time, without force or creating excess heat. Slowing down and being still will provide a space for relaxation and reduce stress and anxiety.

Yin yoga can still be a strong practice in that it will challenge the body and mind with longer holds.

A very gentle, slow and softer practice. Less energy is spent which will provide more nourishment for the body.

Lots of props are used to assist the body in comfort and relaxation. Explore gentle movement, full breaths with slow moving sequences for bodies and minds who find it hard to relax, slow down or for those who need to take it easy.

This practice will nourish energy levels, quieten the mind and ground you back into your body.

“Yoga is not about self-improvement or making ourselves better. It is a process of deconstructing all the barriers we may have erected that prevent us from having an authentic connection with ourselves and the world. “ – Donna Farhi

Matthew Guthrie
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