You probably know yoga as a set of physical postures and movements, designed to stretch and strengthen the body. But did you know breathing, visualization and meditation, as well as study of yoga philosophy are important to learn to get the most from your yoga practice.
While many forms of yoga have evolved recently with the modern explosion in popularity of the ancient art, there is only one root, and its history is lost and so remains a mystery.
All the evidence points to it arising among the Upanishadic tribes, who were the indigenous peoples of India before it was conquered. It was shamanistic knowledge that was passed on orally and later transcribed in the texts we now study.
Today, millions of people practice yoga for the health benefits. The asana, or postures are very effective in strengthening and stretching the whole body, and so you can keep in shape doing yoga, which also keeps your mind healthy.
Using breathing techniques with the postures relaxes you as you exercise, so that you don’t hold unnecessary tension, and keeps your mind quiet and focused.
Not all yoga classes have an equal focus on the breath and body. It was often thought that breathwork was for advanced students, or that very basic breathing is all that yoga encompasses, and so bit by bit it’s been dropped as an essential component.
Learning breathing techniques from the start has many advantages though. It improves the effectiveness of stretching and strengthening, because developing a smooth, even breath while you exercise increases the relaxation.
Feeling relaxed makes exercise feel easy and comfortable, so if the goal of yoga for you is to get rid of all that tension in your shoulders, then you want to exercise in a way that your shoulders and neck learn to relax when they can.
Meditation is the true crowning glory of your practice, and all the physical work and breathing is a preparation for you to experience theta waves in your brain, experiencing a whole-body mind awareness for a few moments.
Theta waves are relaxing and stabilizing mentally and emotionally, they improve brain function and reduce stress, so meditation may be the single most important health practice you can do.
So why should you spend time doing yoga and breathing preparation, why not just sit and meditate? Taking a step-by-step approach to meditating creates the condition for your mind-body to reach that zone easily.
Sitting still to clear the mind is easier when our body is relaxed and strong, and a straight spine is considered best for running energy throughout our being.
Whether you come to yoga for physical reasons or for mental emotional ones, it just makes sense to learn the breathing and meditation along with the physical postures. It increases the benefits for your nervous system supporting a calm and relaxed body and mind.
As a certified yoga therapist, I have the skills and experience to guide you to safely get the most benefit from your classes and build a routine that works for your life and body.
Look for our next blog coming soon which answers the question “Is yoga for every body and mind? I’ll explain the four pillars of a de-stressing and how they work to balance your nervous system.
Starting your yoga journey now is so easy, there’s no reason to wait.