Do you yoga?

For those who have never practised yoga, there can be many misconceptions.  Perhaps images of incense and amethyst crystals come to mind?  Or maybe thin, female vegans?  The truth is that anyone can do yoga.

So what is yoga?  Derived from the Sanskrit word 'yuj' meaning 'union',  I like to think of it as the union of the body, mind and soul.  Yoga is about being aware of the breath while going through different poses and sequences.  Timothy Burgin of Yoga Basics says 'the development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, but some researchers think that yoga may be up to 10,000 years old'.  Today there are millions of people practising yoga around the world.

I've been practising yoga for 7 years.  I still attend beginner lessons and leave classes feeling calmer and more centred. I've tried several types of yoga - Hatha, Yin/Yang and Ashtanga.  Each has different benefits but the thing I like the most is that your practice is your own, there is no competition.  You can go at your own pace, choosing the variations of poses for your own level of flexibility and fitness and can rest in Child's pose when need be.

In Auckland I practise Ashtanga at the Auckland Yoga Academy.  There are classes throughout the day and the teachers are knowledgable and keep you safe.  The academy also offers Hatha and Mysore, and host workshops and retreats. We are also lucky enough to have a weekly Hatha session at work provided by Inhouseyoga.

I'm looking forward to the summer to try outdoor yoga at the quirky Bikes and Bends and I've always wanted to try yoga on a beach so welcome recommendations for that.

If you'd like to try yoga and feel too shy to go to a class, then sign up to an online yoga service like Gaia and practise at home.  There are also lots of free resources on You Tube.

The benefits of yoga include improved flexibility and posture, increased blood flow and improved immunity and respiration.
Photo Credit: Andrés Levy


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