YogaIn recent years, yoga has increased significantly in popularity. It originated in India and can be translated to mean the practice of physical poses. A lot of people think stretching when they think of yoga however, yoga is so much more than just stretching of muscles and has substantially more health benefits.

Types of Yoga

Yoga is performed through postures or poses. Stretching of muscles is involved, but yoga is more about creating a balance in the body. Practicing yoga develops both strength and flexibility.

There are different ways to go through poses in yoga. The poses can be done in quick succession or more slowly. By performing poses quickly, heat is created throughout the body. If the poses are performed more slowly, it tends to increase stamina and allows for perfection of the pose. Either method of performing yoga is beneficial and can be incorporated into practice at any time.

In yoga, there are also different styles that can be practiced. Hatha is one type of yoga and is the most basic of all types. It encompasses many kinds of yoga so it is a good introduction to yoga and is slow-paced.

Vinyasa is another type of yoga and uses a more vigorous approach with breath-synchronized movement. It starts with repetitions of a series of poses called Sun Salutations then advances into more intense stretching.

Ashtanga yoga is a more fast-paced and intense type of yoga. It includes a set series of poses that are always performed in the same order. It’s much more demanding as it entails constant movement throughout the practice.

Equipment Required for Yoga

Yoga can be done with very little equipment required, depending on whether it’s for serious practice or not. If yoga is being done in a yoga studio, no equipment is usually required – it is usually personal preference for people to bring equipment to class. For home yoga practice, a DVD or book of yoga poses and series sometimes is needed, especially for beginners.

One of the first pieces of equipment people buy when deciding to practice yoga is a yoga mat. A mat provides support and traction during yoga practice. Yoga mats are typically lightweight and easy to carry. Some people opt to purchase a yoga mat bag so their mat is easy transportable. It is also a great place to keep keys, water bottle etc. A yoga towel is also something that may be in a yoga bag for use during and after practice.

Other equipment may include yoga blocks and straps – both which can enhance yoga practice. For beginners who might need help with flexibility, a yoga block and strap may be just what is needed. A yoga block helps to hold challenging poses longer. Cork and foam yoga blocks are the most popular.

Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is considered an effective method for reduction of stress and anxiety. Each specific pose or posture in yoga has its own individual physical benefits. Each pose works different muscles and therefore can tone and strengthen those muscles.

Overall yoga benefits include flexibility, strength, balance and increased fitness. Different styles of yoga offer different health benefits. For example, some classes are designed for relaxation specifically and emphasize a focus on breathing, meditation and so on. Other styles of yoga usually teach the yogi how to move in different ways. The benefit of this is exercising new muscles and moving in new ways.