Contributed by Therese Garay
We have about 60 days until Christmas, which leaves us roughly 67 days before another "new year, new you." Yes, remember that time you went all "this year is going to be my year?" Well, we remember and despite being terribly busy, we know it's not too late to make 2016 the year that the "new you" finally happened. A very common goal at every start of the year is to start living healthy. So, for your benefit, we've done due diligence in looking at one of the common ways to get health and wellness into the "new you" - YOGA! Yoga has become increasingly popular as a mainstream type of exercise for all ages and both men and women. It is based on ancient principles grounded in Indian spiritual and philosophical beliefs related to developing body and mind awareness through movement. The practice involves using postures and breathing techniques along with meditation and chanting (Reel, 2015). Considered a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, yoga is an ancient belief system, a science of exploration, a process of self-discovery, a method of personal development and spiritual evolution, and an art of transformation. It is a complete approach to total well-being, and for many – a way of life. It is an all- encompassing approach to physical health, mental clarity, emotional balance, and spiritual attainment (McCrary, 2013). You see, it’s more than just a way to exercise, it’s a holistic activity.
The term yoga, traditionally, refers to a wide variety of Hindu practices (Hinduism Today, 2015) or discipline, which aims to aid one’s spiritual growth (Gleghorn, n.a.). It is one of the six orthodox systems of Indian Philosophy that has been used for millennia to study, explain, and experience the complexities of the human mind and spirit. It is also considered as a technique used to still the mental fluctuations of the mind to reach the central reality of the true self (Valente & Marotta, 2005). If you want to get started on yoga the right way, it’s best to be more self-aware with meditations, life-coaching, energy healings and so on with The Third Eye Wellness Center.
Modern yoga is only an incarnation of an extremely vast tradition that has expanded and evolved through the millennia (McCrary, 2013). According to Wilburg (2008), yoga today, is most generally taken to be – and practiced as – a system of physical stretching and bending exercises for one’s health and well-being. It is an example of a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that has a high relaxation and leisure activity component, which also promotes stress reduction (Dodds, Bulmer & Murphy, 2014). In modern society, specifically in the west, yoga has become synonymous with taking classes, doing physical stretching and poses, and sweating. It has become commoditized and transformed into a practice that involves special sports-type of clothing and equipment, a way of managing stress and to promote health and well-being, as well as meditation (Bourne, 2011). Speaking of sports-type of clothing, another way for you to get motivated or to even motivate someone to start doing yoga is to get your gear on! Start with basic yoga pants, yoga mat and a loose and comfortable top at Sports Central.
Common Forms of Yoga (Verrastro, 2014)
1. Hatha. General term for yoga incorporating postures, as opposed to breathing or mediation exercises. Also used to describe a basic, beginner style with less challenging postures.
2. Vinyasa. Fluid, Flowing style wherein students move continuously between postures with coordinated breathing. Most classes are geared towards fit, physically able students.
3. Iyengar. Style known for emphasis on props to maintain proper body alignment even in less flexible students. Accessible to anyone. Training for teachers is more formal and rigorous than with other disciplines.
4. Ashtanga. Vigorous school of yoga where students move rapidly and smoothly from one posture to the next. Recommended for more athletic students.
5. Bikram. Practiced in a room heated to over 100°F to increase flexibility. The same sequence of postures and pranayama is used in every session. Best for physically able practitioners (Also known as “hot” yoga).
6. Kundalini. Flowing style of yoga with emphasis on breathing techniques. May have more spiritual aspects than other styles. Probably for more fit students.
7. Kripalu. Incorporates emotional and spiritual aspects similar to psychotherapy. Breathing and postures are combined in classes, which can be physically challenging.
8. Anusara. Emphasis on alignment similar to Iyengar. Also incorporates chanting and breathing exercises. Known for warm, light-hearted atmosphere in classes.
9. Sudarshan Kriya. A series of breathing techniques with differing rates and levels of airway resistance that practitioners claim can balance the autonomic nervous system.
I’m sure you’ve already tried to do some of these once or twice at home but it’s best to be guided by the pros! Our good friends at Bliss Yoga Manila in Makati and White Space Mind and Body Wellness in Quezon City are the best places to go to. If you find it a bit awkward to start something new by yourself, bring a friend along.
We’ve already talked about the benefit of yoga when the year started but here’s a summary. The growing popularity of yoga can be attributed to the health benefits, along with other factors, that come with practicing it. Numerous studies had been conducted to determine the possible benefits of practicing yoga in the different aspects of a person’s health, particularly in mental and physical aspects. Various researches aimed to determine whether yoga can improve one’s health and up to what extent; to do this, studies compared yoga to exercise to determine if yoga is as effective as exercise or even more so.
Mental Health. Some researchers conducted studies on the mental health benefits of yoga, in order to find out if yoga can aid in reducing stress (Yurtkuran, 2007; Chatha, 2008; West, 2004; Gordon, 2008), depression anxiety (Malathi & Damodaran, 1999), fatigue (Oken, 2004), and psychotic symptoms (Duraiswamy, 2007) and increase in self-control and mindfulness, mood and well-being, self-actualization and self-acceptance (Mataji, n.d.).
Physical Health. Other researchers focus on studying the effects of yoga on the physical aspect of a person. The common studies relating to this topic are researches on flexibility and balance (Oken, 2006), physical fitness and yoga as a form of therapy (Bussing, Michalsen, Khalsa, Telles & Sherman, 2012) to treat some illnesses or help in the recovery of the person. Compared to some mental health benefits, physical health benefits are harder to prove and it may take longer time to get actual results. Though, presence of improvement in flexibility and balance by practicing yoga was already proven to be true. A good way to stay physically healthy in and out of your yoga classes is to drink up on some healthy mixes from Elixir Juice Alchemy and to stay in control of what you eat without sacrificing the taste with Lunchbox Diet.
Other Benefits. Yoga started as a spiritual practice. Its aim is to develop the spirituality of those who practice it. The purpose of yoga as perceived by those who practice it changed over time. In modern times, yoga is not merely considered as a religious practice but more of a physical activity. For those who still practice traditional yoga, the benefit that they receive is their spiritual growth and having a sense of inner peace (Mataji, n.d.; Truth about 10 Reasons for Yoga according to Yoga Day USA, n.d).
Yoga provides multiple health-related benefits and a lot of people are attracted to do yoga for this particular reason. According to a study on asana and pranayama yoga, the outcomes and benefits of yoga will differ when practicing different yoga styles (Cowen & Adams, 2005). Some studies have shown and proven evidences that yoga is truly beneficial to those who are practicing it. If you feel like yoga really isn’t for you, we have two more suggestions. If you’re looking for something that requires less movement but more focus and still in the city, best to try archery by Benel Archery. But if you want to bring your travel and this new wellness activity together, go diving with MARES Philippines. For more ways to get health and wellness back to your year, check out these brands. Check this out for more ideas and activities to do for the rest of the year.