The popularity of Yoga is impressive. More and more people get to experience and understand the beauty and benefits of Yoga and practice it regularly. But why is it actually of such high benefit? And how do we best get started with a practice?
The origins of Yogic practices date back to ancient times on the Indian continent. Yoga is a life philosophy that has at its main goal the awakening from a limited sense of self. Today we mainly know Yoga as a physical practice of postures (asanas), however the entire philosophy of Yoga contains much more than that. Hatha Yoga – the physical practice of Yoga – was in original sense meant to support the Yogi on his spiritual journey by relaxing and stretching the body so the body was prepared and strengthened for meditation.
Perhaps you have tried meditation. And perhaps you have made the experience that it is much easier to meditate when the body is relaxed, the mind has calmed down and we can leave the buzz of the day behind. And this is exactly where the practice of physical Yoga comes in: it helps us to decrease stress levels, it activates the para-sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for our bodily rest and digest processes, it increases our emotional stability and contributes to better sleep. The physical and emotional benefits are manifold and have been backed up by scientific research. Overall, Yoga brings our physical, energetic, emotional and mental bodies into balance. That is why we feel “so good” after a Yoga class without necessarily knowing what exactly to attribute to.
So how to get started? As the world of Yoga is booming more and more Yoga styles pop up. From Ashtanga to Vinyasa to Bikram to Iyengar to Yin to restorative, etc… This can be overwhelming for someone who is new to Yoga. The clue is: start somewhere and try as much as you feel like. It can take some time to find “your style” and “your teacher”. Styles and teachers varies tremendously and resonate with different people, bodily and mental needs at different points in time. So don’t give up if you don’t hit a jackpot in your first Yoga class.
Many people are concerned that they are not flexible about Yoga. This is a myth that has unfortunately spread widely! Flexibility is built up over time as we become consistent in our practice, it is nothing you come to your first class with (unless you have a background in acrobatics). We all start somewhere. A good Yoga teacher will be able to cater to the needs of every person in the room, no matter how advanced or flexible. And in the end Yoga is about much much more than a flexible body. A good Yoga class is one where you feel relaxed, rejuvenated and an overall sense of well-being at the end. Let yourself be surprised!
So, are you ready? Try out as much as you can, trust the process and don’t forget to have fun!