Yoga and Its Benefits
The physical practice of yoga, known as
While yoga's philosophy embraces principles of spirituality, yoga itself is not a religion. Accordingly, the practice of hatha yoga should not interfere with any particular belief system and can be practiced by followers of any faith or by people who are spiritual, but not religious.
People of all ages, sizes, and levels of ability can benefit from the practice of yoga. Modifications exist for every posture. Find a well-qualified instructor who knows how to tailor the exercises to meet your needs and does not expect you to do anything that is uncomfortable. Be sure to communicate openly with your instructor about your individual circumstances.
The practice of hatha yoga consists of a series of poses, known as
The consistent practice of yoga provides numerous physical and mental health benefits according to a large and growing body of research. Scientists, interested in the link between mind and body, or how thoughts and feelings can affect physiology, conduct research in the field of mind-body medicine. Because yoga is a leading form of mind-body exercise — a movement discipline that combines mindful techniques with physical movements — it has been the focus of much medical scientific interest.
Studies of yoga report the following benefits:
Improved physical health
Effective stress and anger management
Reduced responsiveness to stress hormones
Decreased pain and pain sensitization
Greater sense of well-being
An overall improved mental outlook
Most hatha yoga styles include the same basic poses but differ in terms of how quickly you move, how long you hold each pose, how much breathing is emphasized, and how much of a spiritual aspect is involved. In the Indian tradition, all physical yoga is hatha yoga. In contrast, in America, different styles of hatha yoga have been given new names such as power, flow, or hot yoga. Other styles are named after the individual people who spread the exercise in America. For example, Iyengar yoga, named after B.K.S. Iyengar, is the most widely practiced style of hatha yoga in America and offers modifications for beginners.