Over 5 million people in Germany practice yoga! The great popularity is certainly not without reason. So what's up with Sun Salutation & amp; Co.? What is yoga, what positive effects does yoga have on health, what styles of yoga are there and which type of yoga is suitable for beginners? We'll give you an overview.
What is yoga?
Yoga (from Sanskrit: union, integration, tension) is a philosophical teaching from India that is more than two thousand years old. Yoga takes a holistic approach, in which body, mind and soul are to be brought into balance. To achieve this, breathing exercises (pranayama), physical exercises (asanas) and meditation are combined. As a result, you can achieve more well-being and balance with regular practice - physically and mentally.
Yoga can be very calm and meditative - but also dynamic and powerful. Even if yoga is not a sport in the classic sense, some styles of yoga are as demanding as a workout. However, the motivation of most practitioners is not the sporting aspect, but the strengthening of body, mind and spirit alike. Ultimately, yoga is always individual - your yoga practice is what you make of it.
Are yoga and meditation the same?
Most yoga sessions begin and / or end with meditation. So meditation is often part of the yoga practice, but yoga and meditation are not the same thing. In classic meditation, you concentrate on your breath in silence. So you can calm your mind and your thoughts, get in the mood for the yoga class or at the end come to rest and feel.
Whether you focus more on physical exercises or meditation is entirely up to you. Neither is better or more important. Everything is allowed in yoga that is good for you.
Yoga Basics: What Is Yoga All For?
As a holistic practice, yoga is equally beneficial for body, mind and soul. Yoga provides better mobility, strengthens the muscles and prevents pain. Relaxation techniques and meditation reduce stress and improve general wellbeing.
Physical and Health Benefits of Yoga:
- Yoga for more flexibility: Strengthening of (muscle) strength, ligaments and tendons, improvement of flexibility, balance and coordination
- Relief of chronic pain such as head, neck or back pain
- improved blood circulation and stimulation of lymph flow
- Better posture and pain reduction by strengthening the back muscles
- Yoga gets the circulation going and is good for the cardiovascular system
Positive effects of yoga on the psyche:
- supportive with psychological complaints such as anxiety or depression
- Stress reduction
- Self-reflection and a more positive attitude towards yourself, others and life
- Relief from insomnia
- more energy and balance
Yoga can also be used in a targeted manner, here are a few examples:
Yoga against obesity
Yoga is a gentle way to get moving. Due to the different yoga styles and intensity levels, everyone can start their level and gradually increase. Along with a change in diet, regular yoga practice can help you lose weight.
Yoga against depression
Several studies * have since come to the conclusion that yoga can alleviate the symptoms of depression. It was found: the more often, the better. With two yoga sessions a week, a significant improvement in the depressive symptoms could be seen after two months. Important: Yoga is not a substitute for psychotherapy, but an accompanying measure.
Yoga against pregnancy problems
Yoga during pregnancy is a great way to to stay fit even during this special time. Yoga can be a real treat for typical pregnancy problems such as back pain. Yoga can also support you mentally during pregnancy and in preparation for childbirth.
Yoga against migraines and headaches
Breathing exercises, meditation, and relaxation can provide significant relief, especially for stress-related headaches. Quieter types of yoga such as yin yoga can have a positive effect on migraines in terms of intensity and frequency.
Yoga for beginners - your way to yoga
Everyone can do yoga - no matter what age you start or how fit you are. There are even yoga classes for children. For yoga beginners z. B. Hatha Yoga is particularly suitable. There are many static positions in hatha yoga, which is ideal for practice. You can gradually increase through different levels of difficulty. To start with, a guided course is definitely advisable. If you do one or two yoga lessons a week, you will surely notice the first effects in everyday life after a few weeks. And the pleasant, relaxed feeling during the lesson and immediately after it usually comes along very quickly.
Yoga courses: together or alone?
As a beginner, you can learn the basics and ask questions in yoga classes. The correct execution of the asanas is extremely important, because poor posture can lead to pain or even injuries. Incidentally, we dedicated this topic an entire article.
A good yoga teacher will explain movements and postures to you in detail, support you in performing them, ask about physical limitations and explain what the individual exercises mean. Many yoga schools have a focus on certain yoga styles, others offer a colorful mix. If you already know which type of yoga you want to try, you can search for it. If not, a good yoga school will always be happy to advise you and often offer a free trial lesson. Also, make sure that the chemistry between you and the yoga teacher is right. In addition to group courses, there is also the option of booking individual lessons.
There is now a large selection of yoga classes online too. If you already know the basics of yoga, this is a great alternative that you can do from anywhere.
As a trained yogi you can of course also practice alone - both in addition to the course and exclusively. Whether at home, in the park or on the beach - you can roll out your mat (almost) anywhere. Yoga outdoors in nature has a particularly intense effect.
A yoga class lasts 60-90 minutes and consists of:
- Warm-up phase (e.g. breathing exercises, meditation, mantras)
- Main or practice part with asanas
- quiet final part, mostly with final relaxation (Shavasana)
Yoga accessories: This is what you need for the perfect yoga workout
The basic equipment for yoga includes suitable yoga clothing and a yoga mat. Optionally, you can use a yoga block, a belt or a meditation cushion. Yoga clothing should be breathable, comfortable and fit well so that you can move around easily. We recommend tight-fitting clothing so that everything stays in place overhead.
Yoga clothing for men: Yoga is becoming increasingly popular with men too - you can find our functional, sustainable yoga clothing here for men .
Yoga is basically practiced barefoot, so you don't need shoes. If you freeze quickly, you can wear socks. If possible, barefoot is always the first choice - for good balance and a secure stance.
Yoga mat - yes or no? Of course, you can just practice yoga anywhere. A good yoga mat, however, ensures better hold and balance. Rolling out the yoga mat can also have a psychological effect and symbolize the beginning of your yoga practice.
An overview of the different types of yoga
Hatha, Vinyasa, Kundalini - what does that mean and which type of yoga is right for me? Our overview of the most popular types of yoga will help you make a decision.
Hatha Yoga is the most famous style of yoga. In Hatha Yoga, the asanas, i.e. physical exercises, are in the foreground. Because these are usually kept static for some time, Hatha Yoga is particularly suitable for yoga beginners. You can find more information about Hatha Yoga in this article.
In Vinyasa Yoga, the focus is on flow - a dynamic, flowing transition between the asanas in harmony with the breath. The most famous flow is the sun salutation. A Vinyasa Flow can be quite sweaty, but there are also suitable courses for beginners.
Kundalini Yoga has a great focus on mantras, chakras, pranayama and meditation. Some courses even do without asanas at all. Kundalini is about getting into all your strength on a mental level and getting to know yourself better.
Ashtanga Yoga is basically a Vinyasa Flow. With the difference that the exercises and their sequence are precisely defined and always the same. If you are looking for physical and mental challenge and are willing to practice regularly for a long time, Ashtanga Yoga could be something for you.
Yin Yoga is a slow, calm style of yoga. Most of the exercises take place while sitting or lying down. The special feature: the individual positions are held for several minutes. This stretches the body intensively, especially the connective tissue and the fasciae.
A Brief History of Yoga
Yoga is not a religion, but an ancient Indian philosophy. The first indications can be found as early as 700 BC. Originally, yoga was purely spiritual: the goal of yoga was to find enlightenment through meditation. The asanas emerged later. In the beginning they had the purpose of enabling the body to remain in a meditation posture for as long as possible. As the positive effects on overall well-being have been recognized over the centuries, the asanas have been continuously developed and are now very important in yoga. In the 19th century yoga became more and more popular with us too. The Hathapradipika - a text on Hatha Yoga from the 14th century, which was translated into other languages at an early stage, had a great influence on this. Today yoga is spread all over the world, there are an estimated 300 million practitioners! We think the popularity of yoga is absolutely justified. The diversity and the positive effects on body and soul are simply unique. If you have never done yoga before, we would of course be very happy if our article inspired you to try it out!
* Source: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/08/yoga-depression