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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 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...
Most forms of yoga combine poses (known as asanas) with breathing exercises and 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).
There are so many 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.
The word ‘yoga’ is a Sanskrit word and means ‘union’.