Yoga is an ancient practice that dates back more than 500 years.
It is about fine-tuning your consciousness with the universe around you.
Ancient Yogis believed that in order to be in harmony with oneself and the world, you must integrate the body, mind, and spirit. For this to happen, emotion, action, and intelligence must be in balance. The Yogis (not the bears!) found that the best way to achieve this balance was through exercise, breathing and meditation.
Exercises improve circulation, stimulate the abdominal organs, and put pressure on the glandular system of the body, which results in better health.
Breathing techniques were developed on the concept that it is the source of all life. In yoga, students increase their breathing capabilities as they progress through the stages. The focus on breathing helps to prepare the mind for meditation.
In meditation, the activities of the mind are brought into focus, allowing for a 'quiet' mind. Physical poses and breathing techniques develop awareness of the body and help to relieve the stresses of everyday life.
- Hatha Yoga or Yoga of Postures - Hatha is the most well-known form of yoga in the West. Those practicing use physical poses or asana, breathing techniques or pranayama, and meditation to achieve better health. There are many styles within this path - Iyengar, Integral, Astanga, Kripalu, and Jiva Mukti. If you are looking for a peaceful mind and healthy body, Hatha Yoga may be the path for you.
- Bhakti Yoga or Yoga of Devotion - Bhakti is the most popular style of yoga in India. This is the path of the heart and devotion. Yogis who practice this branch see the One or the Divine in everything around them. Bhakti Yoga teaches a person to have devotion to the One by developing a love and acceptance for all things.
- Raja Yoga or Yoga of Self-Control - Raja means "royal". This path is considered to be the King of Yoga, probably because most followers are members of religious and spiritual orders. Raja Yoga is based on the teachings of the Eight Limbs of Yoga found in the Yoga sutras.
- Jnana Yoga or Yoga of the Mind - Jnana Yoga deals with the mind and focuses on intelligence. Jnana Yogis consider wisdom and intellect as important, and aim to use the two to surpass limitations.
- Karma Yoga or Yoga of Service - Karma Yoga is based on the theory that your present situation is determined by actions of your past. By doing selfless service now, you are choosing a future that is free from negativity and selfishness.
- Tantra Yoga or Yoga of Rituals - Perhaps the most misunderstood of all, Tantra Yoga is about using rituals to experience what is sacred. Although sex forms a part of it, it is not the be all and end all. This path aims to find what is sacred in everything we do.
There are still a lot of misconceptions surrounding yoga, for instance that it is a religion. Yogais a set of techniques to help us find spirituality.
While yoga does help us keep fit, it is not an exercise. Yoga develops the body in its entirety, it does not only focus on the physical.
For more information contact the personal training department on 020 7970 2050 or visit them on the 3rd floor to the left of the fitness desk.
Alternatively, you can contact our yoga expert directly - Susan Altay