"I have taken the breathing, the positions and the awareness into my daily life. Yoga now has an influence on me from when I wake up in the morning to when I go to bed. Yoga always puts me in a better place, more relaxed, more energized, more limber, less stressed." Clapham Student
Some of the benefits of a regular yoga practice are:
- Increased strength and flexibility
- Decrease in blood pressure
- Lower levels of stress
- Sense of calm and peace
- Deep relaxation
- Reduction in stress and anxiety
- Improved joint health and mobility
- Improved digestion
- Aided recovery from illness
Yoga during pregnancy is a fantastic way to nurture yourself and your growing baby and prepare for the birth. Many people discover the benefits of yoga for the first time during pregnancy as well as finding that classes connect them to other mums-to-be and pregnancy professionals in their community.
Benefits of pregnancy yoga include:
- Strengthening and toning the body in preparation for labour
- Increase immunity, reducing chances of illness during pregnancy
- Deep relaxation
- Breath techniques to reduce stress and anxiety and help in labour
- Improved posture, alleviating heartburn, digestive problems and backache
- Sharing experiences with other pregnant women in your community and hearing about local pregnancy practitioners
Did you know that you are entitled to time off from work to attend pregnancy yoga if your doctor or midwife has recommended it?
Postnatal yoga helps to restrengthen the abdominal muscles, realign posture and build strength and flexibility to manage the demands of looking after a new baby. There is also a focus on exercises to strengthen and tone the pelvic floor and plenty of relaxation. Postnatal yoga is suitable form 6 weeks after giving birth.
The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ meaning ‘union’. Yoga is a traditional system of practices to unify body and mind which can be traced back to the ancient philosophical Indian texts.
Modern day yoga is mainly descended from the writing of the sage Patanjali who systematised the practices into 8 sections – the eight ‘limbs’ of yoga. Through practising these eight limbs, Yoga practitioners aim to find union between breath and body, body and mind.
Yoga in the modern world
Traditionally the teachings of yoga were passed down one-to-one from teacher to student with the emphasis on spiritual growth. As yoga has become more popular in the west much focus has been placed on just one of the 8 limbs: asana or postures, taught in larger classes.
The postures themselves have great benefits for the physical body: strengthening, toning, taking care of our internal organs and lowering blood pressure amongst many others. However, people often find that as well as the physical benefits, yoga helps them to feel calmer and more centred with decreased stress levels.
Although based around the postures, modern yoga classes incorporate elements of all eight limbs including breathing exercises, concentration exercises, meditation and information about the moral philosophy of yoga. The beauty of it is that you can take what works for you – whether you want to increase your strength and flexibility or learn to calm the mind and reduce stress... or you may have a specific injury or condition that you want to work with or be interested in learning more about the spiritual side of yoga.
Yoga holds the key to finding space – in the physical body, in our breath, our thoughts and our connection with the rest of the world – inside the city and out of it.