Introduction to Yoga

Fitness // Anna Warwick // 19 July 2013

So you guys may or may not be aware that we have quite a few Yoga teachers in the 12WBT team. Since we get lots of questions about Yoga from members, 12WBT’s Yoga teachers Larah Kennedy and Gabi Bruce put their heads together to let us know what’s up with the Downward Dog!

Yoga isn’t just a form of exercise. Yoga is a tradition, a philosophy and a way of life. It’s a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual practice that began in India many thousands of years ago. Yoga made its way to the West in the late 1800’s and has become increasingly popular over the years. Today, there are many thousands of western yogis practicing Asana (the physical postures of yoga) in a variety of different forms.

Do you have to be religious to do Yoga?

Not necessarily. While various traditions of yoga are found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, people come to yoga for many reasons. For spiritual comfort (why am I here?), stress release (how can I calm my mind?) for physical benefits (I need to increase my strength, fitness and flexibility) or just to see what all the fuss is about! Whatever it is that brings you to your mat, it’s all good!

What kinds of Yoga are there?

There are eight ‘limbs’ of the Yoga tree, the Asana (postures) being the limb that most Westerners are familiar with. Along the Asana branch, there are many different twigs and leaves of physical styles.

We recommend that you go along and try out as many different Yoga forms as you can, and practice under as many different teachers as you can. You’ll soon find a form of yoga you love, and teachers that resonate with you.

Do I have to be flexible to do Yoga?

Nope! Anybody can do Yoga and your teacher will give you options to suit you – so you might be doing child’s pose on your mat beside someone who is standing on their head, and you’re doing your practice and they’re doing theirs, and together you’re practicing Yoga.

Like any physical practice, the longer and more consistently you practice, the more physically accomplished you’ll become – but any yogi will tell you that it’s not about how ‘wow’ your physical practice looks on the outside, it’s about how it makes you feel on the inside.

It’s not about kicking goals, it’s all about showing up… because no matter how many years you’ve been practicing yoga, you’re there on your mat to stretch out the sore bits and strengthen the weaker spots that we all accumulate on the journey of life. It hurts. In a good way.

So whether you’re Mr Stretchy or Little Miss Stiff, you just come as you are to practice, and practice to the best of your ability, and that’s all you need to do.

So can you teach me?

Sure, this Core-Stretch workout is a great balance for any training you’re doing! It’s designed to build strength in your core section, increase flexibility in your muscles, tendons and ligaments, and increase the range of movement through your joints.

Members, if you’d like to try a yoga class with Gabi, click here!

Can’t access the video? Join 12WBT and access our brand new Core Stretch yoga workout video!

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Meet the Author, Anna Warwick

Anna Warwick is a Sydney-based health and travel writer with more than 10 years experience across print and digital mediums. As a freelance lifestyle journalist she has contributed to more than 50 Australasian publications. Read author's full story here

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