Trying yoga for the first time can be a daunting experience. With so many different styles of yoga and teaching to choose from, it is important to find the right style for your own personal requirements. Most yoga studios will let you try one class for free, so that is a good place to start.
What makes yoga more beneficial than simply stretching is the focus on breathing. When performing yoga, the inhalation and exhalation is always through the nose in a calm slow manner.
Through the demands of yoga the goal is to keep the breath steady. This directly affects the central nervous system convincing it to remain in the parasympathetic mode (rather than the fight or flight).
When in the parasympathetic mode the body focuses on repairing damage and cells, it is the state for internal healing. Another bonus of remaining in the parasympathetic state is our body can utilise our fat stores for fuel.
All the yoga poses have a Sanskrit name and an English translation. The poses are named after an animal, a shape, the body parts being used or a sage from Hindu mythology.
Common Yoga styles
Hatha – Hatha yoga is a generalized yoga class with a slow pace. Expect a gentle moderate class. Good for those wanting an introduction to yoga.
Iyengar – Iyengar yoga is a traditional form of yoga. Iyengar has a focus on form and poses are held for a longer duration than other forms of yoga. Iyegnar also uses ‘props’, bolsters, blocks, ties and chairs to help you attain the correct form until you are strong enough to make do without props. Expect to be patient.
Ashtanga Vinyasa (or Ashtanga) – Ashtanga is a faster paced flowing yoga style. After a flowing warm-up the class is progressed through standing and then seated postures, back bending, inversions (poses where your feet are above your heart, such as a headstand) and then a period of relaxation.
Hot/Bikram – Hot yoga studios and Bikram studios are heated between 30 degrees and 40 degrees. Bikram yoga follows a set sequence which does not change and the studio is a super-hot 40 degrees plus a bit of humidity. Expect to be dripping with sweat within the first five minutes.
Hot yoga Hamilton studios will have a variety of classes on offer, such as power, yin or ashtanga. The temperature will range according to the class type. With hot classes, take water, a towel and wear clothes that will not absorb sweat.
Pranayama – Breathing exercises which are performed seated on the floor. Yoga classes may or may not contain a session of pranayama. It will depend on the teacher’s preference and style of yoga.
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