Flexibility is one of the most important components of physical fitness, but is often the most overlooked, especially with regards to the contribution it can have to both performance and injury prevention. A flexible muscle is a strong muscle, and so less susceptible to annoying pulls and tears that are common place among athletes.
One of the most enjoyable and effective activities for increasing your flexibility and decreasing your stress levels is yoga. This form of exercise links controlled breathing to movements which aids in the relaxation of the body as a form of meditation.
Different Types of Yoga
Confused with all the different types of yoga?
The following list is a description of seven of the most common yoga styles practised to help you make a decision – followed with top 5 tips for your first yoga class!
Hatha yoga describes any of the physical forms of yoga. It is broad and provides a great introduction to yoga poses. It is laid back and relaxing at a slow pace.
This is another general yoga class with a more vigorous pace consisting of a series of poses known as sun salutations. This type of yoga is known for its flow from one movement to the next. This type of class has a similar intensity to Ashtanga yoga, but has more variation in pose order.
This is a more strenuous form of yoga. There is a special order of certain poses that are performed and it is more challenging as there is constant movement from one pose to the next. This form of yoga is also known as power yoga, although power yoga tends to not be as strict in terms of the order and choice of poses.
This type of yoga focuses on the holding of poses for longer durations of time rather than the transitions and flow. Prop use is common in this style of class as they can be used to aid with body alignment which is strongly emphasised in this class.
Exercises in this style of yoga are known as kriyas. This type of yoga aims to free energy in the lower body so that it may move upwards. Breathing is emphasised with the effect it has on posture.
Also known as hot yoga this type of yoga has received a lot of fame in the last few years. Famous advocates of this style include Jennifer Aniston. It is practiced in a very warm room. The bikram method consists of 26 poses. Less clothing is more in bikram yoga due to the intense heat, and many people find a crop top and shorts most comfortable in this setting.
This style of yoga is based upon the idea that each student has different needs that should be catered for, depending on their personal health and needs.
Once you’ve chosen the one you like best, have a research for yoga classes in your local area and follow these tips for your first class…
Top 5 Tips For Your First Yoga Class
Tip #1 Take a class that suits your level of experience
Be aware of the type of class you are starting.
It is better to do a beginners class if you are new to yoga as it will be easier to keep up with the instructor and will build your confidence with the basic poses before you move onto more complicated ones that require greater flexibility.
Tip #2 Practice yoga with bare feet when possible
This will make it easier for you to balance.
If you do not wish to do the class in your bare feet, you can buy socks with little grips on them that will stop your feet from sliding on the mat.
Tip #3 Keep hydrated
This is especially important if you are doing hot yoga.
Keeping hydrated will help you keep a clear head so that you can concentrate on getting into different poses.
Tip #4 Listen to your body
Make sure that you pay attention to your body, and modify positions where necessary.
It is ok if you are not yet flexible enough to do certain poses, which will come with time and practice.
The main thing is to be comfortable and confident in what you are wearing so that you can enjoy the class, while still being able to move your body into different positions.
Take home message
Yoga is beneficial to fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike. It will compliment all fitness programmes from power lifting to simply maintaining good health and fitness.
It is a great activity for relaxation and a fantastic addition to the cool down phase of your workout!