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What is yoga all about?

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Yoga has been around for thousands of years and has transformed and adapted over time tomeet the needs of diverse groups of people. Now it exists in varied forms like Ashtanga, Yin, and Kundalini, along with new forms which are emerging all the time. At its core, it’s a holistic approach to the body, mind, and our emotional and spiritual selves. It’s often referred to as meaning ‘union’ or ‘togetherness’, the joining of all aspects of ourselves into one whole. In practice, it encompasses physical movement (asana) – perhaps how we best know yoga in the UK – along with breath work (pranayama), meditation (dhyana) and ethical guidance (yamas), amongst other elements. In yoga philosophy, all of these elements form ashtanga, the stages of the journey towards the attainment of enlightenment, or absorption.

In our day-to-day lives, yoga in all of its many elements, can be a resource to help us practice navigating the ups-and-downs we encounter. Yoga is often said to be the process of learning to live in the now, by focusing on where we are in life, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. This is the practice of non-attachment (or letting go), which feeds into relieving ourselves of stress and anxiety.For the most part, group yoga classes – both in person and online – primarily focus on physical movement into postures, breath work and meditation, with other elements threaded throughout, (there are of course exceptions to this). Yoga postures can include everything from a strengthening backbend, Locust Pose (Salabhasana), through to energising standing poses such as Warriors I, II and III (Virabhadrasana I, II and III). Whereas, restorative yoga classes usually focus on support and relaxation. They often use props and extensive breath work to hold postures for a longer period of time, and little to no physical effort is involved.

The range of combinations of yoga elements allows you to use the body, breath and mind asvehicles to create more focus and energy, and ultimately, a sense of presence.

Yoga is essentially the body, breath, and mind working together and there are lots of benefitsof practicing. These include: improving your coordination, spatial awareness, stamina and balance. But practicing yoga can also help to build basic strength and flexibility, and in some cases mobility and stability too, as well as helping to calm anxieties and relieve stress.

Whilst the Sports and Wellness Hub is temporarily closed, we have plenty of free virtual yoga classes to keep you moving at home. Check them out here.



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