A Complete Guide to Yoga

Originating in ancient India, yoga is a form of exercise that focuses on breathing, flexibility, and strength. Yoga can be practised and enjoyed by almost anybody,  with lessons varying from chair-based yoga to advanced routines and poses. 

What makes yoga such a widely accessible exercise is the variations and modifications - if a pose is causing pain or is a little too difficult, an easier version can usually be performed instead, and the more advanced version can be worked towards. 

Whether you like working out at the gym, in a class, or at home, yoga can be easily incorporated into your exercise regime. 

The Benefits of Yoga 

There is a wide range of benefits to regular yoga practice. These include:

  • Improved balance
  • Reduced aches and pains, especially back pain
  • Relief from stress, depression, and anxiety 
  • Strengthening of bones
  • Increased flexibility
  • Helps practice mindfulness 

The benefits from practising yoga will also transfer into other areas of your workout. Increased balance and core strength helps when lifting weights, as well as increased energy levels coming in handy during cardio workouts. 

Getting Started With Yoga

For complete beginners, it's best to find a class at a local yoga studio or gym, to get to grips with the basics. 

If you’re wanting to start practising at home though, there are thousands of free “yoga for beginners” videos on youtube to follow. This is an increasingly popular way to practise too, with creators such as Yoga with Adriene now having over 10 million subscribers on the platform. 

All you need to get started is a yoga mat, such as our 6mm yoga mat - cushioned design, non-slip, and easy to clean, it’s perfect for beginners and more experienced yoga enthusiasts. 

The Different Types of Yoga

There are a number of different styles of yoga out there, each different in pace, intensity, and even temperature... 

Hatha Yoga: a gentler form of yoga, slower moving where you only have to hold each pose for a few breaths. 

Vinyasa Yoga: a flowing, dynamic form of yoga that is faster moving and will raise the heart rate. 

Bikram & Hot Yoga: practised in a heated room, around 40 degrees celsius, these are the more intense forms. Bikram yoga is a specific series of 26 poses, whereas hot yoga is less regimented. 

Yin Yoga: a calming and restorative practice, yin poses are held for minutes at a time and aim to target the deep connective tissue. 

Restorative Yoga: even slower than yin, the aim of this form is to allow your body to relax and mellow. 

Ashtanga Yoga: consisting of six series of specific poses, ashtanga tends to feature the same routine every time. 

Which Yoga is Best for Beginners?

We’ve compared four of the most popular kinds of yoga to help you decide which is best to start with. 

Any of these forms of yoga are great to try out. Hatha is a gentle form, and would suit those who want a steady introduction to yoga. Vinyasa is more intense but also a good all-rounder, good for those who are looking to incorporate yoga into their workout routine. Hot yoga and Bikram are best for those wanting to try something new, beginners may enjoy the predictable routines of Bikram. 

Can Yoga Help You Lose Weight? 

Yoga builds body strength excellently; and building muscle is key for improving metabolism, which ultimately helps you burn more calories. Many people practise yoga for its relaxing, de-stressing qualities, and for them losing weight isn’t the goal. However if this is what you’re aiming for, there are plenty of ways to amp up your yoga workout. 

Adding Resistance Bands

Resistance bands can help you maximise your workout by making your muscles work that extra bit harder, they also allow your body to use a fuller range of motion - reducing your injury risk. 

A versatile piece of equipment, resistance bands are a worthy purchase as they can be used for a whole range of workouts, from strength and conditioning to injury rehabilitation and physiotherapy. 

 

Adding Weights

There’s a number of benefits to incorporating weights into your yoga routine, from building core strength to improving circulation. 

Weights can help you get your body into the correct positions, and make you engage the right muscles. This increased bodily awareness will really help you with your yoga, especially in improving balance and coordination. 

You don’t need to use heavy weights to feel a benefit either, as 1kg-5kg will really take your yoga up a notch. A set of Hex Rubber Dumbbells would be a great option. Ergonomically designed and hexagonal in shape to prevent rolling, this set is an ideal addition to your yoga routine.  

How Yoga Changes Your Body 

Though yoga might not leave you sweaty and sore, this doesn’t mean it’s not changing your body from the inside out. 

Movement through yoga frees up body tissue, making it more docile, this is why those who practise yoga describe a feeling of having more “space” in their body. 

Synovial fluid is a thick liquid located between our joints. It acts almost like WD-40 for the synovial joints, such as our hips, shoulders, and wrists. Synovial fluid assists with shock absorption to protect our joints, and movement helps keep it working properly - hence why we feel less stiff after workouts like yoga. 

From the outside, yoga increases muscle tone and definition, however since you’re only working with your own body weight (unless you incorporate extra weights) it can take time and determination. However you may find that as you get more into yoga, it becomes less about achieving the “perfect body” and more about feeling good and strong. 

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