About Yoga

Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline which originated in ancient India. There are many different schools and practices, and one of the most well-known types is Hatha yoga, on which these classes are based. In the West yoga has became popular mainly as a system of physical exercise, however Yoga in Indian traditions also has meditative and spiritual elements as well as the physical.

The Sanskrit word yoga is translated as 'union'. The practice of yoga helps to co-ordinate the breath, mind and body to encourage balance, both internally and externally and promote feelings of relaxation and ease. Yoga classes offer students postures and movements to stretch, strengthen and flex the body, to develop breath awareness, to relax and sometimes to meditate.

A typical yoga class may have between 8 and 12 students and will begin with a short relaxation with some breathing (pranayama) practice, followed by movements to stretch, warm and loosen up the body in preparation for working in various postures (asanas). The postures are designed to work the whole body in a balanced way, via stretching and holding a variety of traditional poses. A short meditation may also be included, either as a separate practice, or incorporated into the final relaxation. Mindfulness techniques are often included in the relaxation or meditation aspect of the class.

Asanas (postures) work on every part of the body. They stretch and tone muscles, joints, the spine and skeleton, and help to keep the body supple. Asanas also work on your internal organs, glands and nerves. They release physical and mental tension and they can liberate additional resources of energy. Practice of pranayama (breath/energy control) revitalises the body and helps to make you feel calm and refreshed . It can assist in developing increased clarity, mental power and concentration.

Group classes are 90 minutes (hour and a half) long, and one to one classes are one hour, or longer by agreement.

Benefits of Yoga

Anyone can practise yoga...

...independent of age, gender or ability. You can practise yoga virtually anywhere; you don't need any special equipment.

  • Yoga can aid in reducing physical and emotional tension or stress
  • Yoga improves concentration and awareness
  • Yoga can help with insomnia and improve sleep quality
  • Yoga builds strength, increases flexibility, and some forms improve stamina
  • Yoga brings about a sense of peace or relaxation, helping one to remain calm in difficult circumstances
  • Yoga improves breathing and can have a positive effect on respiratory function

According to the NHS Choices website (http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/yoga.aspx):

Most studies suggest that yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance. There's some evidence that regular yoga practice is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains – including lower back pain – depression and stress.

Flexibility - Yoga can improve your flexibility and help you go beyond your normal range of movement, so that you then feel more comfortable during normal daily activity.
Arthritis - Yoga is popular with people with arthritis for its gentle way of promoting flexibility and strength. Some research suggests that yoga can reduce pain and mobility problems in people with knee osteoarthritis; however, some yoga moves aren't suitable for people with arthritis.
Balance and falls - Yoga improves balance by strengthening your lower body, in particular your ankles and knees, thereby reducing your chances of falling.
Age and fitness - People often start yoga in their 70s and many say they wish they had started sooner. Yoga is a form of exercise that can be enjoyed from childhood to your advanced years. You can join a class that's suitable to your fitness level.

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