We all know that yoga is excellent for our flexibility but it has a multitude of other benefits too. It can improve your balance, strengthen muscles, improve circulation, eliminate toxins and help you de-stress and relax. It can be the perfect healing antidote to our incredibly stressful lives.
From our laptop to our smart phone, we never allow ourselves to switch off; we hardly give ourselves time to breathe. Breathing is the most fundamental practise of yoga.
Though it has be that deep down in your belly breathing, using the diaphragm located below the lungs, rather than the high chest, short breaths we normally take when stressed. By breathing deeply and exhaling properly we bring fresh oxygen into the body to oxygenate the blood.
The history of yoga
Yoga originated in India around 5000 years ago, though the history is varied and complex. With the teaching being passed individually from teacher to student, the techniques we know today are based on the experiences of individuals over many thousands of years.
Various traditions of yoga are found in Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism. Hindu monks were responsible for bringing yoga to the West in the late 19th century but it didn’t become widely known until the 1960’s. By the 1980’s yoga was becoming a popular form of exercise throughout the western world.
There are over 100 different schools of yoga with Hatha yoga emerging as the most prominent and the one most people associate with yoga practice.
Practise yoga anywhere
The benefits people get from yoga are so immense the feel good factor keeps them practising for the rest of their lives. Unlike other forms of exercise, yoga can be practised into old age and will keep you strong, flexible and muscular at an age when most people struggle with movement of any kind.
Once you know the poses you can do yoga anywhere. When on business trips or when on holiday, as long as you know what you are doing, poses can be practised in your bedroom. Yoga retreats are becoming extremely popular though some may be put off as they feel they might be surrounded by people practising at a high level but often this is not the case.
There are yoga holidays that welcome people of all levels and experience that offer an opportunity to grow and learn from others as well as the instructors. So instead of your usual week at the beach, eating and drinking too much, a week away at a spectacular location, doing yoga and eating healthily will have you returning home feeling totally brilliant.
Yoga retreats – a truly relaxing break
You can take a yoga holiday virtually anywhere in the world. It needn’t be as expensive as you might think. With transfers to Luton and flights from there and other airports being so cheap you will be surprise how cost effective this health resort style break can be.
If you want to travel to the home of yoga, you can immerse yourself in the life of the ashram at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram in Kerala, India. This alcohol-free, vegetarian couple of weeks will have you studying at in the foothills of Kerala’s Western Ghats with silent meditation as well as karma yoga on the agenda.
This holiday is for those seeking a deeper spiritual relationship with their yoga practise. If you are looking to detox, lose a bit of weight and relax as well as practise yoga then Jason Vale’s Juice and Yoga retreats in Turkey and Portugal are a great way to combine a stunning setting with a week of healthy living.
If you would prefer to stay in the UK then how about learning from world renowned yoga instructor Jean Hall who offers weekend retreats at Tilton House in the South Downs. With only 15 people to a class this is a great opportunity to learn from the best in close proximity.
Written by Karen James, prolific writer for Milton Executive Cars and other business sectors.