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Published March 25th 2010
It's been around for thousands of years for very good reason. Yoga is about much more than the stereotypical view of twisting the body into contortions. It's not really about that at all actually, and there are enormous benefits to be had even if you can't, like most of us, wrap your leg around your neck.
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Rather, yoga is about achieving your full potential. It's about unifying mind, body and soul for balance, healing and peace. Let's face it, most of us could do with more of that. Life in western societies is fast and as demanding as ever. It takes some committed time and effort to get some eastern wisdom into the western mind so we keep balanced and healthy.
I find that when I practise yoga regularly, life simply works better. I'm less stressed, more energetic and I make better decisions. I love the classes and wonder why on earth I don't do it more often.
While yoga can be practised at home via books, CDs and DVDs, it is advisable to have some classes with an experienced teacher first so a few basic principles are established.
For instance, many people make the mistake of assuming yoga is simply about moving the body this way and that. It's about so much more: Pranayama, or conscious breath control and regulation; using the breath to deepen postures; focussing the mind in the present; finishing your practise with a meditation for maximising benefits, and so on.
If you try a class that focuses solely on the body's movements, you're being short-changed. Try another.
While there are many different styles of yoga, and it can be helpful to familiarise yourself with them, the best way to see what suits you best is to try a few different styles at different schools.
I must confess to being somewhat of a 'yoga hussey'. I've done it everywhere. I've simply found that different classes in the various locations I've lived in or worked near have suited me at different times in my life. My hussey-ing days, however, are now over since I discovered the Australian Yoga Academy in Prahran.
It is a complete, soul-enriching 'work-out' of mind, body, soul and spirit.