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Yoga Asanas

Yoga asanas are defined as postures or poses designed for yoga purposes. Yoga asanas come in a huge variety of different yoga poses made for different types of yoga and ranging from yoga for beginners to advanced. Originally, there was one single yoga position designed for long-time meditation and reflection but today you can try out all the different ones and find what suits you best.

Every yoga posture will have a specific function and purpose, whether it is improving flexibility or maintaining wellbeing, and whether it be a twsting position, lying down position or bending one. In English we use yoga asanas to signify and standing or sitting yoga pose, although there are many other technically specific terms.

Yoga Asanas

Examples of Yoga Asanas

Due to the infinite number of yoga poses and positions possible, we have chosen our top 5 yoga asanas for you to have a go at! These can be done at home with the right yoga equipment or in the gym. Have a go, get started on these basic yoga asanas then move on to more complicated ones:

  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend): start standing up, take a deep breath in and bend over clenching in your abs and bringing your chin inwards to your chest, keep your shoulders relaxed, place your hands on the ground with your chest close to your knees
  • Malasana (Yoga Squat): toes facing outwards and heels inwards, bend into a low squat holding your hands in prayer position
  • Upward Facing Dog: lying down with your body stretched from fingers to toes, bend your arms to the side of your chest and push up with your head facing upwards and streching your chest/neck
  • Virabhadrasana (Warrior 1 Pose): with your right knee bent in a lunge position and your left leg stretched out behind, toes facing forward, extend your arms upwards to have palms touching and stare upwards pushing shoulders down
  • Purvottanasana (Intense East Pose): begin sitting with legs stretched in front of you and toes pointing forward, place hands behind you facing forwards like your toes, inhale pressing hands and toes into the floor and pushing your hips up, your head should be facing up and back

View the yoga benefits of doing these poses here.

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Yoga vs Pilates

Yoga vs Pilates is a common question asked my thousands of people who want to know the difference between the two or who are unsure of which on to take up. There is no definite answer to the debate, yoga benefits will be different to pilates benefits and the purposes of the two popular activities are unique.

These two phenomenons, yoga and pilates, has taken the modern world by storm and are often thought of as going hand-in-hand but are in fact two completely separate practices that differ in origin, exercises and core focus. Yoga poses will differ to those of pilates, and for a specific reason. Due to the number of different types of yoga and pilates, it is hard to pin point which is better for you. Both yoga and pilates will bring you improved muscular and postural strength.

Why is yoga good for you?

Yoga is an act that brings together your mind and body through coordination of exercise, breathing and meditating. If you are looking for a cardio workout then yoga classes will probably not be what you are looking for, clearly depending on the type of yoga, generally speaking. As it is a low-intensity form of exercise, the longer the yoga session, the more pounds you will lose. However, yoga is proven to boost felxibility, endurance and strength through regular participation over a long period of time. An additional benefit of yoga is that is help to bring inner peace and relaxation, helping you to de-stress and contemplate.

Why is pilates good for you?

Pilates is a form of exercise that aims to strengthen muscle groups by stretching and lengthening the target muscles. As a calm way of exercising, it will not boost your heart rate like going for a jog would, but the more advanced class, the higher your heart rate would be. For weight loss, pilates is slightly more effective than yoga, however you would need to maintain going to pilates classes for around an hour several times a week for several weeks for regular weight loss. Pilates is especially useful for building abdominal strength and tightening obliques, with improved flexibility as a bonus.

 

Pilates or Yoga

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History of Yoga

Knowing the exact history and orgins of yoga is difficult as it is a tradition that was passed down through oral transmission and the use of ancient recording methods such as on fragile leaves or drawings on stone seals. Because of this, it is hard to find the exact dates and time periods of when the idea of yoga was born, as ancient artifacts have been studied but researchers can only figure out an approximate origin date of 3000 BC.

The traditional purpose of yoga was to transform one’s self through the transformation of the ego and spiritual discipline. Nowadays, we think of yoga solely as a series of yoga asanas and yoga poses that are done in a workout session. Despite the inspiration for yoga coming from Eastern relgions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Shamanism that focused on understanding the world and self enlightenment, these are the principles that we have forgotten in modern yoga.

It was said that at the start, yoga was found in one form only and today that one single action has been transformed into many types of yoga that are constantly being updated for our needs!

The Philosophy of Yoga

Yoga HistoryYoga originally was an activity that focused on understanding the world, it later became an act that also helped with self-improvement. It was not until later in the sixth century BC where Buddhism took the idea of yoga and introduced different yoga postures and stances. The philosphy of yoga is one that is extremely complicated and rich with many explanations and ideas, yet the principal focus is on uniting the mind, body and spirit.

The art and science of yoga is to create a union between your breathing and your body to create an awareness of yourself being an individual intimately connected to the whole of creation. The fundamentals of yoga, written down around 200 AD in India in a sacred text, explain the concepts of yamas and niyamas:

  • Yamas – moran disciplines and restraints
    • Compassion for all living things through non-violence
    • Commitment to truthfulness
    • Honouring trust through not stealing from others
    • Moderation and self-control through restance of reactivity
    • Restraining the desire for wealth and letting go of attachment to materialistic things
  • Niyamas – personal observance and self-restraints
    • Purity of body and mind through cleanliness
    • Modesty and contenment with what you have
    • Disciplined use of our energy
    • Self-reflection and consciousness
    • Understanding the divine flow and Spiritual presence around us

Many of the different yoga positions and actions that you do can bring about great yoga benefits for your mind and body.

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Yoga Benefits

The art of yoga is beneficial for your mind, body and soul. The benefits of yoga come in many varieties depending on the different types of yoga and yoga poses that you choose to do. Over the years, yoga has become increasingly popular, and there is a reason for it. Actually, there are several! With the numerous yoga benefits, from increasing muscle strength to sleeping better, it’s no wonder that the world is obsessing over the ancient tradition of yoga.

You might be a yoga expert yourself, or you might be searching for information on yoga for beginners, either way the most common doubt people have is whether to take up yoga vs pilates and what benefits each will bring. Here we will focus specifically on the amazing effects that yoga can have on your body, your mind and your life!

What are the benefits of yoga?

Any physical activity is bound to bring in some health benefits, and yoga does not shy away when it comes to improving your wellbeing. The great thing about yoga benefits is that they come in a variety of health, mental and physical improvements. Yoga Benefits

  • Improves your flexibility, builds muscle strength and perfects your posture
  • Betters your bone health and protects your spine
  • Increases blood flow and heart rate (decreasing blood pressure)
  • Makes you feel better and happier through increase of serotonin
  • Helps you focus
  • Relaxes your body system and promotes healthy breathing
  • Improves balance
  • Releases tension in your limbs
  • Can help you sleep better through relaxation of the nervous system
  • Gives you peace of mind, ridding stress and frustration, helps you understand your inner strength

If you are wondering whether to begin on the yoga journey or not, think about what you want to change in your life, whether it is a physical change you want to make or a mental change. Yoga is a great way to help you focus on yourself. Give it a go!