Yoga has been all the rage for years now, only continuing to increase in popularity. But yoga’s beginnings can be traced back 5,000 years or more. This ancient practice is known to have numerous benefits for body and mind. In fact, many people prefer yoga to conventional exercise because of its holistic approach to well being. Amongst its many attributes, yoga practice can improve flexibility, strength, meditation, stamina, and breathing.
Learn about the forms of yoga practiced today and their specific focus and benefits. If you are drawn to this ancient form of exercise for mind, body, and spirit, try them all and see which one works best for your physical and spiritual needs.
This is probably the most practiced form of yoga in the Western world. The word Hatha means sun and moon, and is essentially referring to channelling one’s energy properly. It focuses primarily on asanas or yoga postures, as well as breathing and gestures. Meditating for long periods of time certainly requires physical and mental discipline. The idea is to get the body in peak condition and purify it, which enables one to achieve higher meditation. If you’re looking for a simple holistic approach to exercise, this is a wonderful option.
Some like it hot. If you’re one of those people, you might opt for Bikram yoga. Performed in a room with the temperature at 105 F, this practice involves 26 yoga postures and two breathing exercises. Created by Bikram Choudhury, it is popular in California and among celebrities. The heat of the room allows one to work deeper in the body’s muscles, while improving circulation. It is also known for its positive effects on those with chronic illness. Some may find the heat uncomfortable, but once you are accustomed to it, the benefits of yoga are increased due to the extreme heat. Definitely make sure the room is not too crowded, and that you have a qualified instructor. And remember: you don’t have to live in Beverly Hills to appreciate the benefits.
You’ve heard the expression “They’re all heart…”. In the yoga landscape one would say that about Kundalini yoga. Well it’s all about heart, chakras, and kundalini energy – which is thought to be one’s power lying dormant within, in the form of a coiled serpent. The practice of Kundalini is meant to awaken this serpent so that it will pass upward through all the body’s chakras. It is this concentration on the core of life energy that makes Kundalini one of the most challenging forms of yoga, but it also can make it the most beneficial yoga, overall. It is even believed that continued practice – which includes mantras and meditation – will help one develop psychic powers. It is considered essential to be pure and sincere in this practice, and to seek “divine love.” The powers developed from this form of yoga are said to be so strong that it is imperative they not be misused. If you are ready to tap into your full potential in a responsible, loving way, then try this unique and intense path. But remember: it is not just another exercise class, it is an emotional workout you must be prepared for as well.
If you’re looking for a form of exercise that will also bring about spiritual awakening and cosmic consciousness, then Tantric yoga is for you. There is an emphasis on ridding yourself of bad habits that are toxic for your health, such as smoking and excessive drinking. In seeking consciousness and spirituality, these things are considered obstacles to your goal. Love (of self!) and devotion are primary elements in this form of yoga as well. You begin by renewing your whole being by transferring energies to a higher spiritual plane. These methods are also applied to another aspect that has gained some recognition in the Western world: that is Tantric Sex. This focuses on delving deeper than the flesh for intimacy in body and spirit. So if you’re looking for enlightenment and increased sexual function and stamina, Tantric may be just what the yogi ordered.
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