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Show us your best downward dog. Yoga, which originated in India, has been practised in the East for over 5,000 years – and now it’s popular in the Western world too. Great for combating stress and developing flexibility, this ancient art uses gentle exercise and [[treatment/breathing-techniques/| breathing techniques]] to help you feel focussed and serene. Great for your muscles and joints, yoga can also improve your physical health. Best start unrolling that mat...

How does it work?

Most forms of yoga combine poses (known as asanas) with breathing exercises and [[treatment/meditation/| meditation techniques]]. These can be practised at home, but are often taught in a group setting. It’s a good idea for beginners to start with classes, as your instructor will be able to correct your posture and make sure you’re on the right track.

Classes can last anything from half an hour to two hours. During this time, your instructor will talk you through a variety of postures, encouraging you to develop flow in your movements. Depending on the type of yoga you are practising, you may also be advised on pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation. You’ll be feeling totally tranquil in no time...

Unlike some forms of exercise, yoga classes don’t require much equipment (although you may need a mat if you decided to practise regularly). Just make sure you turn up in loose, comfortable clothing and prepare to bare (your toes, that is – yoga is usually practised barefoot).

Is it for me?

There are so many [[treatments/a-z/type/yoga-relaxation-and-breathing/| types of yoga]] in existence that there is something out there for everyone. Whether you are an OAP looking to stay flexible or a mum who wants to find an exercise class her kids will enjoy, yoga can help you to fulfil your needs.

Like the sound of being nice and limber, but aren’t so keen on the spiritual side? Although some forms of yoga aim to soothe the soul, many classes just focus on physical and mental wellbeing – great if you’re a sceptic.

Find yourself feeling frazzled on a regular basis? Yoga works well as an antidote to stress. Practising breathing exercises and meditation can help to keep you calm and increase your focus and concentration – leaving you perfectly prepared for whatever life may throw at you.

Good to know

The word ‘yoga’ is a Sanskrit word and means ‘union’.


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Ashtanga Yoga

Fast-paced yoga for fast-paced living; Ashtanga yoga takes traditional Hatha yoga and steps it up a notch. Referred to as the yoga of eight parts ('ashta' meaning eight and 'anga' meaning limbs), each stage requires you to synchronise your breathing with a series of postures that then paves the way for the higher levels.

Ballet Yoga Fusion

Throw on a tutu and breathe a sigh of relief. Ballet yoga fusion combines elements of dance and yoga to bring you a class that will truly benefit your mind, body and soul. This workout aims to improve balance, aerobic fitness and muscle tone so dance on down to your nearest class.

Bikram Yoga

A toasty way to tone-up, Bikram yoga (developed by Bikram Choudhury, celebrity fitness expert) is a form of '[[treatment/hot-yoga/| hot yoga]]' because the exercise takes place in a warm and humid room.

Breathing Techniques

Breathe in...and breathe out. We all know that taking a deep breath in times of stress can help us to feel calmer – so it’s no surprise that practising some simple breathing techniques could have a positive effect on our wellbeing. Time to exercise those lungs...

Children's Yoga

Let your child release their inner lion. Children are under a lot of stress these days. Whether its homework, pressure to compete with other children, or endless after school activities – it all adds up. So just like their parents, children are turning to yoga to help them relax and unwind. Children’s yoga is very similar to adult yoga. It has the same ancient Indian origins, poses and effects but unlike traditional yoga it is not yet that popular.

Dynamic Yoga

Go with the flow. Dynamic yoga is an ancient oriental practice, which promises to bring enormous health benefits to those who practice it. It is not only meditative but also physically challenging - correct breath control is essential to this form of yoga to create a seamless flow of postures.

Face Yoga

Smile, and the world smiles with you. Grin, squint and grimace and you’ll be laughing along too. Face yoga involves pulling a plethora of funny faces in the hope you’ll stave off wrinkles for good. By putting your face through its paces, facial exercises can help tone up sagging skin and create a crease-free complexion. The most natural face lift you can get, this is perfect if you want to shed some years without submitting to surgery.

Glow Yoga

Get up and glow. This heart-warming form of yoga takes place in a studio heated with infrared panels, encouraging the body to fully relax. A great way to relieve muscle stiffness and stimulate weight loss, classes can also be helpful to those suffering from SAD – thanks to the ambient lighting in the studio. Go along to a session in the morning and you’ll have a smile on your face for the rest of the day...

Hot Yoga

Sweat is not the enemy. In fact, the whole purpose of hot yoga is to sweat, sweat, sweat- the more that pours out of your pores, the better! Practitioners believe that heat is the key to maximizing the benefits of yoga and enhancing the peace of mind gained following each session. Just be sure to bring a towel!

Iyengar Yoga

Learn how to strike a pose and stick to it. Iyengar Yoga is a relatively static form of yoga placing special focus on developing strength and correct body alignment by holding the traditional poses (asanas) for an extended period of time. With the use of props (a welcome addition), Iyengar yoga advocates the use of belts, cushions and blocks amongst others, to help you dig a little deeper into those punishing stretches and reap further benefit from the poses.

Jivamukti Yoga

Seek the brightest enlightenment. Jivamukti yoga is one of nine internationally recognised forms of yoga. It has western origins, but places special emphasis on the spiritual and intellectual elements of yoga, which are more often neglected by western practitioners.

Kayoga™

Paddle to yoga paradise. Kayoga™, as the name helpfully suggests, is a treatment formed by combining yoga with kayaking (although thankfully, you don’t do both at the same time). Kayoga™ takes typical flexibility and strength-enhancing yoga exercises outside the studio and drops them (and you) on an idyllic beach for a supremely serene experience.

Kriya Yoga

Take a deep breath. The goal of Kriya yoga is self-realisation. Kriya yoga uses breathing techniques and meditation to help transcend the difficulties of everyday life and reach a state of higher awareness. Stressed or unable to focus? This could be just what you need...

Kundalini Yoga

Learn how to unwind –literally. Kundalini translates into ‘coil’ or ‘that which is coiled’, and refers to a spiral lying at the base of our spines. Described by some practitioners as either a snake or lock of hair, it’s claimed that by using movement and positioning yourself in various yoga poses, the coil can be unravelled leaving your body to spring into action.

Meditation

Stop, disconnect and reflect. Meditation is a way of using your thoughts to bring about a state of calm, enlightenment or spirituality. It’s an essential part of many psychological practices as well as hundreds of religious and secular ways of life across the world. Meditation is a key element of many alternative therapies, often combined with prayer, music, exercise, self-massage and fasting.

Nalini Method

Get ready to mix it up. The Nalini Method combines elements of Pilates, yoga, ballet, aerobics and resistance training to create a new and dynamic workout that is all about getting results. The Method aims to help people achieve physical well-being and mental focus within a positive and energised setting.

Pilates

Tone up that wobbly middle. Pilates is a method of exercise designed to strengthen your core. It uses flowing movements and postures to sculpt the body and to get even the smaller and deeper muscle groups rippling.

Power Yoga

Flex those muscles. Power Yoga was designed to make traditional Ashtanga yoga more accessible to western students. It is a vigorous, fitness-based approach that places emphasis on strength, balance and flexibility. Power Yoga is a great way to achieve core physical fitness as well as better mental focus – both of which sound good to us.

Prana Flow

Go with the flow. Prana flow is a style of yoga developed by American yoga practitioner Shiva Rea. Based on traditional forms of yoga, Prana Flow also incorporates elements of music, the visual arts, poetry and philosophy in order to create a deeper experience. Prana Flow can help you to cultivate inner and outer strength and fluidity whilst becoming calm, relaxed and focussed – making it a great way to take time out from the pressures of a stressful life.

Prenatal Yoga

And breathe... Everyone knows that yoga is famous for helping people to become calmer and more flexible – both things that could come in pretty handy for a mother-to-be. However, as with all forms of exercise it’s important for pregnant women to take precautions to avoid hurting themselves or their baby. Prenatal yoga is designed to provide the benefits of traditional yoga, but tailors breathing and movement specifically to suit pregnant women. It’s an excellent way to stay in shape whilst you await the pitter patter of tiny feet.

QiYoga

Feed your life-force. Qi yoga is a fusion of Qigong and Hatha yoga that aims to strengthen the body and relax the mind. It also draws on techniques such as controlled breathing and meridian tapping (gentle tapping of certain points on the body) to help develop energy and focus.

Raja Yoga

Pick your mind’s locks and find true enlightenment. Raja yoga is a largely meditative form of yoga that aims to teach you how to reach spiritual bliss and to gain complete freedom from suffering. By reigning in your bodily desires and instinctive emotional reactions, a Raja guru would hope to guide you to becoming infinitely open, compassionate and selfless.

Sahaja Yoga

Go on a journey of discovery. Sahaja yoga is a meditation technique that focuses on awakening energy at the base of the spine to leave body and mind feeling calm, aware and balanced. The eventual goal of Sahaja yoga is to achieve a state of self realization and self awareness that brings with it inner peace – exactly what we need when the world around us is so busy.

Satyananda Yoga®

Don’t be such a poser. Satyananda yoga is a gentle form of yoga that includes breath work, poses and meditation. However, unlike other forms of yoga, it places more emphasis on developing deep awareness than on the poses themselves. Give Satyananda a go to relax your body and mind and eradicate the effects of stress – leaving you feeling focused and free of tension. Sounds like just what we need...

Scaravelli Yoga

Release that tension. Invented by Italian teacher Vanda Scaravelli, Scaravelli yoga was originally created to provide a less structured alternative to traditional forms of yoga. Scaravelli believed that you should not push or order your body to move into different positions, and that yoga should focus on freedom rather than control. The main focus of Scaravelli yoga is the spine, although breathing practices also play an important part in relaxing the body and achieving a state of intense alertness.

Sivananda Yoga

Sit back, relax and let the world wash over you. Sivananda Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga, based on the wisdom of Swami Sivananda. Developed with the stressed and hectic western world in mind, Sivananda Yoga focuses on your health and well-being in a way that fits into your lifestyle. Rather than working up a sweat, this type of yoga is all about relaxation and deep yogic breathing exercises. A great stress-buster, Sivananda Yoga and its elements of meditation can relax and focus your mind, while improving your flexibility and strength. By naturally developing your body, Sivananda Yoga has even been linked to slowing down the ageing process and reducing illness.

Svaroopa(R) Yoga

Sink into relaxation. The Sanskrit word ‘Svaroopa’ means ‘the bliss of your own being’. Svaroopa yoga aims to open and relax the spinal muscles, releasing tension and leaving the body in a natural state of bliss. Rather than concentrating on precise positions, students of Svaroopa are encouraged to sink into poses, taking pressure off the body and allowing it to unwind.

Viniyoga

Take a deep breath. Viniyoga is a style of yoga that focuses predominantly on breathing, although it also allows people to incorporate poses, meditation and chanting to develop a practice that is personal to them. It’s good news for people who want an experience that is specifically tailored to them – this is your chance to get all the attention...

Vinyasa Yoga

Bend the boundaries as well as your body. With no single philosophy, Vinyasa Yoga throws out the rulebook of traditional yoga in order to connect postures and poses through dance-like movements. With room for individuality and quirks, this creative and diverse method of yoga will have you chanting, panting and aligning your body and mind in ways you never thought possible.

Yin Yoga

Hold that pose. On first look, Yin yoga resembles other forms of traditional yoga. However, there is one key difference – unlike other forms, Yin yoga targets the connective tissues, joints, bones and ligaments. It reaches deep muscles rather than just focussing on superficial ones, allowing for a strong and lasting connection between body and mind.

Yoga Power Plate

Go with the flow and get ready to feel the vibe. Also known as Yoga Vibes, Yoga Power Plate does pretty much what it says on the tin. By practising core yoga poses on the vibrating plate of the Power Plate machine, you can get toned and trim in much less time than you would through traditional gym workouts. The great news is that you will also benefit from the mental awareness that yoga helps you to develop – so your mind will get a good workout as well as your body.

Yogilates

Born in the Nineties, Yogilates is a fusion of Hatha yoga and Pilates which blends the best of both disciplines into one cohesive exercise. Who wouldn't aspire to long, lean, flexible limbs, hard-core abs and superb bodily alignment? Well, the jazzy sounding practise of Yogilates, promises all that and more.

Questions and answers about Yoga