Over the years, yoga has been one discipline that I have really wanted to become disciplined with and practice a few times a week. Whether it was the subtle, “you would love yoga it's so good for the body," weekly reminder from my mum, or the countless articles I have read about the incredible health benefits, or the beautiful inspiration of yoga devotee Christy Turlington, or maybe my natural instinct to desire to do something great for my body, it's just one of those things that I have always been drawn to but have had difficulties staying committed to practice. Over fifteen years I have clocked up hours and hours in a number of different yoga studios trying different types, but none of them appealed to me.
That is until a couple of years ago when a friend of mine recommended that I try Janie Lamour's Zen Ki Yoga class. I instantly loved it. So there I was thinking that Zen Ki Yoga must be the yoga for me, until a recent trip to Bali when I went along to a Bikram Yoga class out of curiosity.... and fell in love with Bikram too.
So what I'm saying is, with so many different types of yoga out there it can be challenging trying to pick one. The key is to get out there and try a number of different types so that you so that you can find the yoga that suits you at this point in your life.
Yoga is not just about exercise. It's a philosophy, a way of life and health routine designed to connect your mind with your body and spirit through breathing techniques, meditation and health-promoting postures. There are the more active types - Bikram, Zen Ki, Ashtanga and Vinyasa, which are more toning and fat burning; and the slower types - Iike Hatha and Sivanada, that are more meditative and relaxing. And many more types are out there too.
Pre-natal yoga is especially beneficial during pregnancy as it helps you breathe and relax, which can, in turn, help you to adjust to the physical demands of labour birth and motherhood. Combined with a cardiovascular exercise such as walking or swimming it can be the ideal way to maintain fitness when you're pregnant by helping to tone muscles and improving flexibility with little impact on your joints.
From my practice and research it appears that all yoga has similar benefits:
- Tones the body
- Realigns the spine / helping to alleviate postural problems
- Improves circulation
- Reduces stress / calms the mind
- Promoted weight loss
- Builds strength, stamina and flexibility
- Improves immunity
- Improves mental clarity
From my point-of-view yoga is the perfect combination of exercise and relaxation. Even the more active types are a source of relaxation as well and the slower types certainly help tone the body too. After a Zen Ki or Bikram class I certainly feel centred and calm, whilst also noticing how much tighter my butt, core, and arms feel.
So, what type of yoga suits you best? Pick one that hooks you into going back to class week after week, so that you can enjoy all the health benefits that improve your health and well-being.
Written by Sam Sample