Yoga is a 2,500+ year old discipline that seeks to improve your health as well as your physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. It does this through the use of a range of different postures, breathing exercises and meditation techniques. In simple terms, it is about giving care to your mind, body and breath. In today’s busy world, many people are turning to this form of training as a way of relieving and managing their daily stress.
Exercises are designed to put pressure on the glandular systems of your body, increasing your body’s efficiency and overall health. The breathing techniques are designed to improve the health and function of your body and mind. When these exercises and breathing techniques are used in combination correctly and regularly, they can become a powerful method of achieving physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
There are 4 main classifications of yoga: Karma which utilises the body; Jnāna which utilises the mind; Bhakti which utilises the emotions and Kriya which utilises the energy. Each system of yoga that is practiced falls within the gamut of one or more of these categories.
Yoga exercises are a series of static postures (called asanas) which are held for a period of time and performed in concert with the breathing techniques. A class or session normally begins with simple postures and gradually move toward more challenging ones. Each session or class should be designed to work every part of your body.
There are a number of different styles of yoga and gyms and dedicated studios don’t necessarily practice them all. As a guide, below is a summary of a number of the different styles you may encounter.
- HATHA – Slow paced and gentle, this is a good form for beginners.
- VINYASA – A more vigorous style based on the performance of a series of poses called ‘Sun Salutations’ in which movement is matched to the breath.
- BIKRAM (HOT YOGA) – Practiced in a hot room which loosens muscles and increases your levels of sweat which is believed to be cleansing.
- ASHTANGA (POWER YOGA) – Fast-paced and intense style with constant movement from one pose to the next.
- IYENGAR – Focuses on body alignment and technique of the poses which are held for longer periods. This is done to maximise the benefit of each pose and minimise the risk of injury.
The practice of asanas develops strength and flexibility, while soothing your nerves and calming your mind. The asanas are designed to impact your whole body from muscles and joints to glands, nerves, respiration and the brain. There are a number of benefits when exercises are performed correctly and regularly (e.g. 2-3 times per week) including:
- Reduced stress levels
- A feeling of inner peace
- Increased energy
- Improved strength, flexibility and posture
- Potential normalisation of blood pressure. As asanas hold muscle tension for a short period of time, they can improve cardiovascular fitness and circulation.
- Improved digestion through better circulation and the massaging affect of surrounding muscles
- Release of muscle and joint tension
In a similar way to massage, yoga can be a great complementary activity to support your overall health and fitness journey. Reduced stress levels and a feeling of inner peace will help with the quality of your sleep which in turn helps your body recover from the rigors of training.
Where do I find gyms that provide yoga classes?
A huge number of gyms provide free access to classes as part of your membership. To find the ones closest to you, enter your address or suburb in our search page and then filter for Yoga. We have more than 2,500 gyms in our database from across Australia. It’s so easy to suss out gyms!