I'm a Freelance Writer - MPG Communications and Author - Maria P Frino (pen name).
Published October 2nd 2020
Do your body a favour and learn yoga
Yoga has been around for centuries. There is some evidence that this practice dates back to the Pre-Vedic period in India c1700-500 BCE. In recent years, Yoga has become the exercise of choice for many people due to its healing and therapeutic attributes. Yoga does not heal as such, but the more you practise its disciplines, the more your mind calms and this, in turn, may assist your body to heal.
Yoga benefits your body and mind. Photo courtesy of Matthew Henry, freerangestock.com
There are many yoga classes on offer, so search your local area and find one convenient for you. Yoga is not an expensive sport and once you have learned the positions, you are able to practise at home.
I attend a class at the Leichhardt Aquatic Centre and try to go at least twice a week. The class I do is a Vinyasa Yoga and it can be a strenuous class. You do have to hold the positions for a few minutes, which may be taxing on your body if you are not used to holding stretches.
Here are insights from Carol, my yoga teacher at Leichhardt. I interviewed her about her experience with yoga -
Maria: Are there courses available to become a yoga teacher? Carol: There are many schools of Yoga that run teacher training courses to become a yoga teacher. Varying in length and depth of the teachings. You can travel overseas, complete courses online, or take courses here in Australia.
Maria: How long have you been teaching yoga? Carol: I have been teaching since 2003
Maria: How many types of yoga do you teach? Carol: I teach Vinyasa (synchronised movement with breath), Yin (long-held mainly floor poses), Prenatal (designed to nourish and care for women during pregnancy) and Hatha (gentle, more static in nature).
Maria: Is it true that yoga is good for both body and mind? Carol: Yes. Yoga is a breath centred practice for the mind and the body. Yoga is a complete system of personal growth; asana to remove obstacles of movement, Pranayama to remove obstacles of breath, Meditation to remove obstacles in the mind.
Maria: Would you recommend being a yoga teacher to others? Carol: Yes. If you love to practice yoga and want to go deeper, whether you want to teach or not, the teacher training can be transformational.
There are many styles of yoga, the popular ones being -
Vinyasa - this word means 'to place in a special way'. This is the most athletic of the yoga practises.
Hatha -this is a gentle form of yoga and is good for beginners.
Iyengar -controlling your breath is part of this practice.
Ashtanga -this is a physical form of yoga for people who are experienced yogis.
Bikram -this is practised in a heated room and involves 26 different positions.
Yin -this is a slow form of yoga with many positions performed on the mat. This is also a good yoga for beginners.
As Carol mentioned, there is pre-natal yoga as well, which is when I started doing yoga. I enjoyed these classes and have kept up with my practise ever since.
Poses are held for a few minutes and can be strenuous. Photo credit Bruce Mars freerangestock.com
Many exercise regimes require expensive equipment, outfits and shoes. Yoga, however, can be done in comfortable clothes, no shoes and a mat is preferable, but carpet will suffice. Of course, if you wish you can indulge yourself by purchasing designer yoga outfits and an expensive mat if you prefer. My mat is from Rebel and I paid $30, I buy my tights and tops from Target and I do like my tights and top to match. Do your research before you purchase your yoga essentials, there are bargains to be had.
Meditation can be part of your yoga routine. Photo credit Jack Moreh freerangestock.com
There are a few rules you need to follow if you are going to attend a yoga class, and COVID-19 has added to these rules. Due to COVID restrictions bookings are essential. It's a good idea to arrive at the class ten minutes before it starts so you are able to set yourself up and relax before you start. Yoga classes are quiet spaces, leave your catching up with friends to before or after the class. Keep a safe distance from the person next to you and behind you, and clean/sanitise your mat before you leave, especially if it is one you have borrowed from the studio. Place the mat and any other equipment back where they belong. Oh, and one last thing, don't be afraid to chant Om and say Namaste at the end of a class. This is a nice way of thanking your yoga teacher and the others in the class.
I know I said yoga classes are quiet, but I have done some classes where it is encouraged that you make audible sounds - breathe deeply and let out your breath with sound. This is called Ujjayi Breathing (or Victorious Breath) and can be done with mouth open or mouth closed. Your yoga teacher will tell you if this is part of their practice and is usually a part of Hatha yoga. The purpose of this audible breathing is to focus the mind and synchronise movement.
Yoga is an enjoyable exercise and with practice, you will also learn meditation techniques that will help to clear your mind. The most important thing about doing yoga is to know your body's limits, you will not be able to hold poses and stretch your body in the same way as your teacher with your first class, it has taken me years to perfect poses and I'm still learning.
For information about classes held at Leichhardt Aquatic Centre click on the website.