YOGA AND YOU
What’s your style?
Everyone knows about the health benefits of regular yoga practise – flexibility, strength, calmness of mind. If you’re not yet spending time on the mat, here’s how to make this Indian practice one of the most effective tools you have in your healthy tool kit.
BODY, MIND, SPIRIT
ere are many different styles of yoga, with varied levels of physical intensity. Ashtanga or Vinyasa Flow classes, for example, are tough workouts that will increase the heart rate and use up energy. But yoga’s secret weapon is not a simple ‘energy in, energy expended’ equation. In fact, it’s the gentle routine that can have the most impact.
“Yoga connects mind, body and breath, and it’s this connectedness that makes people more mindful of their bodies,” says Marc Cohen, Professor of Health Sciences at RMIT. “ey start to move better, feel better, and that creates positive reinforcement.”
It’s the holistic nature of yoga, with its emphasis on lifestyle and philosophy as well as exertion and control of the mind, which can give it the edge over other forms of activity.
“You cannot have a healthy
body if the mind is overactive and unbalanced,” says Satya Live Yoga founder and teacher Christina Jagusiak. “Yoga brings ease to the mind and reduces feelings of stress.”
THE RIGHT START
Yoga practice is so diverse that it’s almost impossible to keep up with its myriad forms. “ere are many branches of yoga [including] Bhakti, Gyan, Tantra and Hatha to name just a few,” says Christina.
In recent years, Hatha forms such as Bikram, Ashtanga and Vinyasa, which emphasise the physical, have become popular.
People can benefit from these styles of yoga even if they don’t get into deeper levels of practice. Balance and core poses strengthen the body. Because classes usually run for about 90 minutes, with at least 75 minutes of continual activity, the heart and muscles are given a solid workout.
“My first yoga class was Bikram, which I was drawn to because I liked the heat, the discipline, the physical demand. But now I find Yin yoga [where poses are held for longer] more challenging and beneficial,” says Jagusiak. “I love the fact that in the west we have so many types of Hatha yoga practices. Each person can find a style they like, knowing that their preference might change over time to allow them to achieve the goal of yoga, uniting body, mind and spirit.”
DON’T PUSH IT Like any other exercise, yoga can cause injury, and care should be taken.
“My number-one rule is to listen to your body,” says Jagusiak. “If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Whatever your level of experience, being honest with yourself is the important thing. You do not get brownie points with the teacher if you do the best bridge pose, and if you are competing with the person next to you, you are not practising yoga.”
CHANGE FOR LIFE
It seems that yoga, whatever way you choose to practise it, can be a game-changer in the health stakes. But the real power of yoga may just be that it helps you feel more positive about yourself and happier with the person you are. As Cohen says, “It’s not so important which yoga form you choose. What matters is doing it at all.” So go for it! Namaste. #