Yoga poses are probably the first thing that comes to mind when you
think of yoga, but the poses are actually just one of the three vital
cornerstones of a yoga practice – breathing and meditation being the
other two. While there are over 100 types of yoga, hatha yoga and
bikram yoga are two of the most popular forms.
The Beginnings of Yoga
Over 5,000 years ago, yoga was inspired by the desire to live a longer
and healthier life, while accomplishing a deeper level of
self-realization. The word yoga means “yoke” or “join,” because the yoga
student seeks to achieve a powerful mind-body connection.
The Three Cornerstones of Yoga
Chances are, when you think of yoga, you are picturing the hatha type of
yoga. This type of yoga, introduced in the 15th
century, comes from the root words “Ha” and “Tha,” meaning sun
and moon; this refers to the opposite types of energy in the
body, which hatha yoga seeks to balance and unify. Hatha yoga is a
relatively mellow type of yoga, good for beginners, and perfect for
winding down at the end of a busy day. Each hatha yoga student is
encouraged to perform the asanas at his/her own pace, while focusing on
control and breathing, in order to balance the mind and body.
Bikram yoga, also known as “hot yoga,” is a newer form developed in
California by Bikram Choudhury. It is practiced in a room that is
heated to at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and results in a high
intensity workout. Bikram yoga is characterized by a 90-minute
sequence of yoga poses and teacher dialogue that do not vary between
Who can practice yoga?
One of the most appealing factors of yoga is that almost any adult can
benefit, regardless of age and physical condition. Each of the
yoga poses has modifications which make various levels of difficulty
possible, thus retaining the ability to benefit equally the very fit
individual and the person with health limitations.
While yoga poses are not recommended for women during menstruation or
pregnancy, or for children under 16 years old, all people can benefit
from the breathing exercises and meditation practiced in yoga.
Beginning a yoga practice
If you are new to yoga, do not feel daunted by the many poses and
terminology. Even the best yoga teachers were once
beginners, and a good teacher knows how to teach expert and novice
alike. Many beginners choose to find a good instructional book or
a DVD to practice along with, while others seek a qualified yoga teacher
and attend classes.
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More than yoga poses
on our yoga information page