What is yoga?

What to expect when you visit a teacher

A Brief History of Yoga

This document provides general information on what to expect when you visit a therapist, as well as explaining briefly how their discipline works. It must be noted, however, that every therapist works in an individual way, and may subscribe to slightly different theories as to how their practice is carried out.

It is always advisable that you ask to see relevant qualifications and discuss the treatment offered to you by the practitioner if you are in any doubt whatsoever.

What is yoga?

There are so many schools of yoga it would be impossible to list them all in this article, however, put simply, yoga is a complete system of mental and physical training that can be enjoyed by anyone at any age. In its purest form yoga incorporates meditation, diet and certain standards of hygiene, and it is also said to offer a path to enlightenment.

However, you don't need to take on board the whole shebang in order to reap the benefits of this ancient practice. The yoga commonly practised today consists of asanas (body postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques).

While many have heard of power yoga, otherwise known as Ashtanga yoga, the most popular form in the West is called Hatha ("balance") yoga. According to yoga philosophy a calm mind produces regular breathing and a relaxed body and vice versa.

The physical postures (asanas) benefit both mind and body since one focuses on the breathing whilst holding the posture. You may have seen some yoga postures and wondered why you are required to hold your body in such strange positions. Well, it is in these positions that the organs and nerve centres of the body are stimulated.

When the endocrine glands are stimulated this in turn affects the body's heart rate and hormone production. Whilst performing a back twist the autonomic nerves are stimulated, as are the digestive and lymphatic systems. A headstand is said to improve circulation and stimulate the brain as well as giving the heart a rest.

These are just a few of the many positions performed in yoga. Yoga claims to bring about spiritual benefits too as through correct breathing techniques and meditation you influence the flow of life energy (called prana) which flows through invisible energy channels called nadis.

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Click here to find out what to expect when you visit a yoga teacher or class.

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