Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

If You Want to Feel Good, Stretch and Strengthen

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

If You Want to Feel Good, Stretch and Strengthen

Article excerpt

Yoga

The health benefits of yoga have long been accepted by Western cultures but the practice of yoga has never been as popular as it is now.

The word yoga means union in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India. It represents the union of mind, body and spirit.

The stretching exercises practiced in most yoga classes create a balance in the body and increase strength and flexibility. They can help prevent back pain caused by spinal compression from a sedentary lifestyle.

Yoga breathing exercises, Pranayama, focus attention on the breath and teach us to use our lungs more effectively.

Asana, or the practice of physical postures and poses, brings a calmness to the mind and helps relieve stress. The concentration required for the exercises helps to focus the mind in the here and now and leave the daily stresses behind.

There are so many different kinds of yoga. Here is a guide to just a few of them.

Hatha: is a widely practiced form of yoga using asana (postures) and is the foundation for most other yoga styles.

Iyengar: primarily concerned with body alignment and poses are usually held over a long period.

Bikram: also referred to as hot yoga as it is practiced in a hot room which allows for a loosening of tight muscles and profuse sweating. Ashtanga: a fast-paced intense kind of yoga involving constant movement.

Kundalini: emphasis is on the breath combined with physical movement aimed at freeing energy at the base of the spine and allowing it to move upwards. It combines classic poses, chanting and meditation.

White Lotus Yoga: modified Ashtanga yoga combined with breath work and meditation.

Pilates

Pilates is a 20th century discipline developed in Germany by gymnast Joseph Pilates, who believed that mental and physical health are inter-related. He defines his method as using the mind to control the muscles.

Pilates focuses on the core postural muscles that keep the body in balance and support the spine. Like yoga it teaches awareness of breath and concentrates on alignment of the spine.

Joseph Pilates believed in circulating the blood so it could awaken all the cells in the body and carry away the wastes related to fatigue. …

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