Many people decide to practice yoga because a particular style or school of yoga really gives them what they need! Some yogis and teachers REALLY believe that their own style is the best to follow – which is great – it obviously makes them feel damn good and I for one will not argue with that.
They might enjoy the structure and safety in an Iyengar Yoga practice – where precision in alignment, timing and sequencing is everything. Others love the Ashtanga Series for the fact that it requires tremendous strength and power to get through. Not to mention the arm definition its bound to give you! Vinyasa flow is the most hip form of yoga in the West, with postures flowing into each other, much like a dance – with every class being different to any other, as it is often just the creative energy of the teacher which governs what is included on any given day. Hot yoga became another craze and still make people feel fantastic and others sick – every damn day!
Ultimately the styles are based on Hatha Yoga – that yoga developed in India centuries ago – the same yoga that builds strength, flexibility and balance. Also the same yoga that improves your bone density, joint flexibility, sorts out spinal issues, strengthens your immune system and dramatically reduces your stress levels.
All the yoga styles are great. They all get you there – in different ways. Go with the one that makes you feel damn good.
Many people take to yoga as part of a spiritual journey – seeking a connection with The Higher Source. Yoga often strengthens people’s relationship with God, which is part of what makes the practice so special…for some. As many choose to avoid yoga because it’s perceived to be in conflict with or seen to be a religion on its own. The questions live on: Does practicing yoga mean I subscribe to Hinduism or Buddhism? Is it a religion or isn’t it? No and no. Just like practicing Japanese martial arts such as Karate and Aikido doesn’t mean you subscribe to Buddhism, practicing yoga doesn’t make you Hindu – or a sorcerer or witch or anything. Yoga is non-sectarian, promoting health and harmonious living. A little like feeling damn good! Yoga is such a personal experience so whether you do it with a spiritual end goal in mind, or only to correct your spine – it’s all good.
Some people take to yoga because it’s the cool, fashionable thing to do. Everyone does it – A through to C list celebrities and sport personalities/teams have all taken to the mat to get in line with the ‘trend’ that brings so many benefits. So they ended up staying – because it feels so damn good! Yoga is transformative – and it will stay that way – long after it stops being cool. If ‘cool’ is your reason it’s a good enough reason. Get into it and experience all the amazing benefits of being so damn cool.
In the ongoing war against being fat – many take to yoga with the aim of losing weight. Like with any weight-loss regime a balanced diet (first and foremost) combined with some form of exercise give the best results. The value of yoga in this quest comes back to the connection and relationship that is being built with your own body. On the yoga journey your body begins to be your teacher – showing you where to go shove your ‘perceived’ limitations. Your body – through the practice – helps you become stronger in and for yourself, it teaches you to trust in yourself and have confidence in what you can do. Your body shows you that you are more than just what’s in your mind or what is reflected on a scale. It is in this looking at yourself as if you’re someone you actually love, care for and admire that the shift begins to hit the fan. You become protective of what you give your mean miracle machine of a body. You nurture and nourish instead of stuff and abuse. You do this because you choose to and want to – not because you are restraining yourself out of fear of gaining pounds (and everything that is associated with being ‘fat’).
Loving and accepting your body, as it is today, is probably the biggest shift you will ever make in any weight-loss or self-development programme or journey– and once that happens who knows what the scales will do next?
Not that it matters of course – all that matters is that you feel damn good!