Actually, Yoga is GREAT for you especially if you are not very flexible. You will learn how to correctly stretch tight muscles, and how to identify where you are tight. There are many stretching poses for each area of tightness, so if one pose is too much of a stretch for you, there are many others to work the same area, and many ways to modify stretches until you are more flexible. Increasing your flexibility will help prevent injury, protect joints by increasing range of motion, and prevent back pain by stretching tight hamstrings and back muscles. In Yoga we want to be "toned" but not "tight."
Don't base your ideas of what Yoga is all about on the classes offered at a Fitness Center. Most Fitness centers offer either Power Yoga or YogaFit, or a variation of these two Yoga styles. And there are many other styles of Yoga -- one of which will probably be better suited to your goals, lifestyle and physical abilities.
Power Yoga and YogaFit styles of Yoga are basically for those people who are already pretty physically fit. There is seldom time or interest in explaining poses, how to do them correctly, and how to modify them as you build up strength and flexibility. The instructor usually does not have time to give personal attention to the individual's specific needs.
In numerous studies Yoga has been shown to increase bone density, even reversing osteoporosis. And actually the doctor of one of my students wanted her to start taking prescription medication to prevent osteoporosis because she was starting to show a little bone loss. She elected to not take the prescription right away, but rather started a regular practice of Yoga and some Pilates. In her last check up her doctor was amazed to see NO bone loss. He said "Whatever you are doing, keep doing it." When she told him all she'd changed was adding a regular Yoga practice he said, "I'm now a firm believer in Yoga."
And as you will find, Yoga is not just about stretching, it is also a full muscle strengthening practice. I have even had weight lifters come to class who could not do some of the strength poses that many women twice their age could do. It was rather surprising to them.
Hatha Yoga is the general name for all the styles of Yoga practice which includes poses (called asanas) and breathing (called Pranayama). You can learn more about the various styles of Hatha Yoga on www.yogajournal.com. Search for Yoga Styles.
Basically, some Hatha Yoga styles are focused on form and alignment, and you will hold the pose, gradually extending the length of time you hold a pose. Other styles are flowing -- you flow slowly from one pose to the next. Some styles include both. Some styles do not focus on breathing as much as other styles. Some styles are more therapeutic and some are more aerobic.
What is important is you find the style and the instructor that fits for you at this point in your life.
At our studio we offer a combination of styles, and a variety of classes so everyone can find something they like to achieve the results they are hoping for.
Laughing yoga is a new "phase" of Yoga where participants are asked to laugh a few times during the class. Laughter is Good Medicine and can help us relieve stress and just feel good. Special chemical and hormones are released when we laugh which are good for us mentally and physically. And even forcing a laugh can bring about "real" laughter. In our Yoga (and Pilates) class we don't force the laugh, we laugh naturally because we have fun!
Yoga at a Fitness Club is focused on just that -- fitness. Yoga at a studio focuses more on the whole person -- body, mind and spirit. Yoga studios will generally have all the equipment necessary to make Yoga accessible to everyone, even those with limited range of motion -- equipment such as blankets, blocks and straps. These "props" make Yoga poses accessible to individuals who currently have very tight muscles, or limited range of motion in hips and shoulders, for example.
A Yoga studio is usually warmer than a Fitness center so the muscles can stay relaxed, and we play relaxing music to calm the mind. There are no distracting sounds of weights clanging or other interference so we can focus on what we are feeling as we practice.
Yoga will absolutely improve your balance. If you are concerned that you cannot participate in a Yoga class because of the balancing poses, don't worry. We all start out challenged by the balancing poses -- but there are techniques you can learn to help you find your balance -- and ways to modify many of the balancing poses so you can practice at your level of ability, moving to the next step when you are ready.
Tattva is a Sanskrit term that describes our "essential nature." Tattvas are the primary principles, elements, states or categories of existence, the building blocks of the universe. Often Tattva is translated shortly as "truth". Tattva Yoga was developed by Pamela Porch using aspects of many styles of Yoga to help each of us find our "essential nature". She does not believe there is only one path, or one style of Yoga, for every person. By incorporating some flowing asanas with holding asanas, and using pranayama, bandhas and other Yoga techniques she believes each individual will find a place in the practice where, if even for a second, they touch their essential nature.
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