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Natural Awakenings Spokane WA/Coeur d'Alene ID

Yoga is a Type of Exercise

Nov 17, 2017 03:18PM
by Kim Phillips

Many yoga teachers present their particular school of yoga as meditative, therapeutic, breathing-oriented, philosophical, spiritual and more than just the physical poses practiced in class, but be aware that almost 100 percent of the time, yoga includes plain old exercise. Even a restorative yoga class that focuses on slowly moving into specific stretches on the floor to relax and rejuvenate the body still requires movement. The other end of the yoga spectrum is the high-energy, often heated, power classes that require a faster pace and a higher level of physical fitness.

Yoga is exercise, and is typically sought out for both health and fitness purposes. With proper instruction, it is a wonderful form of movement to improve strength, flexibility and balance. Yoga utilizes muscle integration, which means it requires the body as whole to find transitions into and out of specific postures. Because it utilizes the body as a whole, the physical gains in strength, flexibility and balance are often noticed in movements required for everyday living. Those with balance challenges may find that they are more capable of getting up off the floor; individuals with sore backs may find that they are more capable of standing longer to make dinner; and individuals looking for flexibility for their specific sport may find not only improvements in range of motion, but also strength.

The benefits of yoga can be endless if we are aware of how to safely move into, hold and exit the postures we are instructed to do. Typically, a yoga teacher guides the class into a posture with universal cues. Be aware that our bodies might not move the same way the person next to us does, and modifications may have to be made.

The foundation for a posture such as Warrior 1 [in which foot positioning is critical] may also differ from one person to another. For example, a person with knee pain may place their back foot completely differently to feel the same stretch without pain in the knee joint. Without proper instruction, yoga, just like any other exercise, can cause injuries. And just like any form of exercise, it is important to start with the basics in a beginner class.

There are gifted teachers that can be found via apps, online, in books, on videos, in fitness clubs, yoga studios, class settings and one-on-one sessions. Always take personal responsibility for finding a teacher and yoga type that sets us up for success in the goals we are trying to reach. Here are some of the more common types of yoga.

Ashtanga: a specific series of postures practiced in order. One must master a posture before moving to the next. Includes chanting of mantras.

Bikram: 90 minutes, heated, series of same 26 poses.

Iyengar: specific postures held for long periods of time, focusing on alignment with the use of props.

Kundalini: dynamic breathing techniques linked to movement, meditation and chanting of mantras.

Power: vigorous yoga that may incorporate higher heart rate and core work. Room may be heated.

Restorative: five or six poses on the floor, supported by props that allow complete relaxation and rest, held for five minutes

Vinyasa: flowing from one pose to another and linking breath. Room may be heated.

Yin: slow-paced postures held from 45 seconds to three minutes, focuses on increasing circulation through the joints and improving flexibility.

Beginners may want to try several schools and different instructors before committing to a particular course. This is considered normal in the world of yoga.

Yoga Kim Phillips has 30 years of experience in the health industry including working with professional athletes, public speaking, published writer, and currently focusing on yoga retreats, workshops, privates, and classes. For more information, call 208-640-3594, email [email protected] or visit Reform Studio, 210 W. Sunset Ave., Coeur d’Alene, ID.,

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