The practice of yoga
It’s an ancient philosophy that hails from India and dates back more than 5,000 years, and today yoga is more popular than ever.
Built around exercise, breathing and meditation, research continues to shed light on the variety of health and wellbeing benefits that practising yoga regularly can deliver.
And the best thing is, there are a wide range of yoga styles to choose from, so you’re bound to find one you like, plus you can do yoga anytime, anywhere.
From developing strength and flexibility to soothing your nerves and calming your mind, yoga has a number of health benefits:
- Improved mood - Research suggests that after a yoga class, the brain’s levels of a key mood-related neurotransmitter rise by more than a quarter
- Increased fitness - According to a 2014 study, regular yoga sessions may benefit heart health as effectively as some more traditional forms of aerobic exercise
- Healthier digestion - The improved blood circulation and massaging effect of surrounding muscles that yoga produces may help to speed up a lacklustre digestive system. To help, it’s worth trying a yoga sequence designed specifically for the digestive system
- Less stress - Research published in 2018 found that the stress levels of study participants fell significantly after they’d done three yoga sessions every week for a month
- Eating mindfully - US researchers discovered that mindfulness yoga encourages positively affects eating habits. Their study showed that people who do yoga regularly pay closer attention to why they’re eating, which helps to avoid non-hungry eating, and are more likely to be a healthier weight, as a result
Get the latest in wellbeing news
Sign up to the fortnightly wellbeing update and get the latest articles, recipes and more delivered straight to your inbox!
The different types of yoga
Not all yoga classes are created equal. There’s a huge variety of yoga ‘styles’, and while all essentially rely on a series of structured poses, called asanas, brought together with breath work, it’s important to choose one that’s right for your experience and your expectations.
Here’s a brief explanation of a handful of the most popular yoga classes.
- Iyengar - A slower-paced style of yoga, close attention is paid to the detail and alignment of each posture, making it ideal for learning the fundamentals if you haven’t had a lot of experience
- Ashtanga - Using a fixed sequence of poses, this is a fast-paced, flowing and physically challenging style of yoga designed to produce an internal ‘heat’
- Bikram - Based around a series of 26 poses, the standout feature of this style is that it’s performed in hot rooms where temperatures almost hit 40 degrees
- Kundalini - This style of yoga blends chanting, rhythmic movements and breathing techniques. Designed to stimulate and move energy through the body, classes often end with relaxation, meditation and a song
- Restorative - Designed to encourage a feeling of deep rest, a class includes just four to six poses, each held passively for several minutes with the help of props like blocks and straps
You can do yoga anywhere
Attending a yoga class is a great way to practise your poses, and you can locate one by visiting findyoga.com.au
and typing in your location as well as the specific style of yoga you’re after.
But organised classes are definitely not the only way to do yoga. Yoga doesn’t typically require equipment, apart from a mat, which means you can do it anywhere – even at your desk
Not sure where to begin? Don’t panic. Our yoga hub features a step-by-step yoga sequence for beginners
, which takes you through five asanas, or yoga poses, that you can easily practise at home.