“Yoga takes you into the present moment, the only place where life exists.” – Anonymous
Yoga is all inclusive. Give it a try for a complete body, mind, and soul transformation. This healthy lifestyle workout both strengthens and helps brings relaxation to your body. Having originated approximately 5,000 years ago in India, this age-old practice continues strong today. Some describe Yoga as a science, while others practice it for its spiritual aspects, a way to combine the physical realm with the spiritual realm. Whichever way you choose to see it, one thing is certain, Yoga is here to stay.
But, what is Yoga exactly?
It’s all about “harmonizing the body with the mind and breath through the means of various breathing exercises, yoga poses (asanas) and meditation.”1 If you’re new to this form of fitness, don’t be intimidated, the necessities needed for Yoga are pretty basic. When it comes to clothing, the looser, the better. As yoga requires a lot of fluid body movements, try to wear clothing that doesn’t constrict you too much. Generally, women typically opt for leggings and a somewhat form-fitting top, while men usually wear shorts, however loose pants work just as well. No shoes or socks are needed for classes, and some Yogis choose to leave their shoes at the door. LA Fitness offers complimentary yoga mats for its members to use. If you are bringing your own, consider a mat that grips well to the floor.
The claimed health benefits of Yoga are astounding. Various studies have found that Yoga may help reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety2, aid in improvement of chronic back pain3, help lower blood sugar in those suffering from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes4, boost energy5 and mood6, while also having positive effects for those battling heart disease7, cancer8, and other illnesses. It’s amazing how such a non-forceful workout approach can be so beneficial to our bodies. Below is a list of five different styles of Yoga that are said to have certain effects on the body.
1. Ashtanga or Power Yoga – For Weight Loss
Astanga Yoga is a type of yoga is based on eight principles: Yama (moral codes), Niyama (self-purification and study), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sense control), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (absorption into the Universal). Power Yoga is an offshoot of Astanga Yoga, which uses the same poses, just sped up.
Fun fact: The yoga classes offered at LA Fitness are based on a Vinyasa flow. This type of yoga flows smoothly from pose to pose and closely resembles Ashtanga and Power yoga.
2. Iyengar Yoga – For Strength and Stamina
Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha yoga that was developed by Yoga Master B.K.S. Iyengar. It corrects alignment of all parts of the body and establishes a sense of well-being. The precision of each pose is supposed to help assist in building strength, stamina, balance and flexibility. No two classes are ever the same. This method is all about developing better attention to detail.
3. Yin Yoga – For Relaxation
Imagine Yin Yoga as a slower paced version of basic yoga. Now before you think this sounds unchallenging, it’s actually quite difficult, while still bringing relaxation to your body. Yin Yoga requires its students to hold postures, or asanas, for longer periods of time. This is supposed to target the deeper tissues of the body, rather than the superficial tissues alone. It’s not uncommon for poses to be held 3 to 5 minutes at a time, sometimes even as long as 20 minutes. The poses for this style of Yoga are similar in form to meditating.
4. Bhakti Yoga – For Love
This Yoga practice may be for love, but not in the traditional romantic way we may first come to think of. Bhakti is one of the major six branches of Yoga, which focuses on cultivating a love and spiritual devotion. Bhakti Yoga is also known as the path to self-realization. It’s a form of yoga that is recommended for those who feel they are in touch with their emotions. It the path of the heart and devotion. The ultimate goal of practicing Bhakti Yoga is to reach a state of pure bliss, reached only when surrendering oneself.10
5. Bikram Yoga – For Healing
Bikram Yoga is a form of Yoga that involves repeating the same set of 26 poses in set cycles over a 90-minute time frame. According to the official Bikram Yoga site this style is intended to “systematically move fresh, oxygenated blood to 100 percent of your body, to each organ and fiber.”9 Bikram style yoga is often grouped together with hot yoga, due to the fact that these classes take place in a hot room, either at or above body temperature.
Interested in trying yoga out for yourself? In order to get a deeper understanding, we interviewed LAF Group Fitness Yoga instructor Lisa K. who helped us understand Yoga on a different, and more personal, level.
Q: How has Yoga influenced you? How many years have you been practicing?
Lisa K.: Yoga has given me permission to slow down, pause and be present. We all experience different levels of stress in our lives and practicing yoga has also allowed me to focus inward and enjoy the energy and positive flow of each class. After I practice I feel stronger both physically and mentally and my mind is at peace. I started practicing in 2005 when I was in the midst of raising my children, working full time and getting my master’s degree. My stress level was at an all-time high and a friend suggested that I try her yoga class. It was truly a life-changing gift!
Q: What can those new to Yoga expect to gain from attending a Group Fitness Yoga class?
LK: Yoga is more than touching your toes! It can help to relieve stress, build strength, stretch your muscles, increase flexibility, stimulate your immune system and leave you feeling calm and centered. The beauty of yoga is that we’re all practicing at different levels and instructors will show modifications for each pose so no one will feel left out, lost or discouraged. Members are reminded that some participants have been doing yoga for years while others are experiencing their first time on the mat. We “practice” together and support each other without competition or judgment.
Q: Why should members include adding Yoga to their exercise routine?
LK: By adding yoga to your fitness routine you’ll likely be rewarded with better posture, increased balance, strength, mindful breathing to reduce stress and increased awareness on how YOU and your body feel. Yoga is said to help eliminate toxins from your body and improve circulation and can help lower your blood pressure. Each class ends with a Savasana; which is a few minutes of conscious relaxation. Now doesn’t that all sound divine?
Q: In honor of National Yoga Month, would you mind sharing one of your favorite Yoga mantras with us?
LK: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free. In some way, may I contribute to that happiness and freedom for all.”
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to our readers, what would it be?
LK: A few thoughts: Open your mind and try something new. Be patient with yourself. Set aside any judgment or self-doubt. Focus inward on what you hope to receive by attending the class. Be aware of how your body feels in each pose. Honor your limitations and celebrate your successes. Breathe. Repeat.
Feeling inspired to get your Yoga fitness on? Well, LA Fitness has you covered! Check out our list of Group Fitness Yoga classes at a location near you.*
*Group Fitness Class offerings and schedules vary by location.
**Offer expires at midnight on September 31st, 2017.