Yoga is quickly becoming more and more popular in countries around the world. Yoga teachers have been spreading the art for many years across the continents, as it is one of the most ancient forms of meditation and physical exercise. The resurgence in interest in yoga is nothing short of astounding. If you find that you yourself have become curious about yoga, you may want to try taking a class or two.
Yoga is not purely a physical exercise. Many of the poses that your teacher will ask you to do will require holding that position for quite some time. Under this kind of physical strain, it is only your mental conditioning that will help see you through. Eventually the practice becomes habit, and you will then find a way to meditate calmly and serenely. People who do yoga find that the art is an effective way to lose weight, relieve stress and ensure general well being.
The physical poses in yoga are very similar to stretching, in the sense that they all flow into the next position. Movements are very deliberate in yoga, and the main areas where the movement is concentrated are the spine and neck areas, as well as the legs. Stretching the neck increases blood flow to a person’s brain, and readies the rest of the body for more physical activities. Stretching the neck is very easy—the simplest of stretches involves slowly dropping the head to one side and relaxing the neck muscles. This must be done with proper, relaxed breathing as well. After you do this, repeat the same exercise for the other side of the neck. It is normal to feel a crack in your neck. The important thing to remember is that you should not force a stretch, as it defeats the purpose and may even cause you more harm than good.
The spine is the next area of concentration. It is important to stretch the spine mainly because it serves as the relay for your body and your brain. You can easily stretch your spine by doing the Cobra pose, which will entail lying on your stomach, placing your hands at either side of your chest in a clipped-wing position, and then slowly and deliberately pushing upwards, extending your arms fully and stretching your spine. The Cobra is a very relaxing pose, and one that is also easily done.
The final areas of concentration are the legs. Another simple stretch will require you to sit upright in a chair, with your legs stretched out as much as they can be. Once you have set your position, bend forward from your waist and try to reach for your toes. You will feel the pull in your hamstrings, calves and thighs. This stretch is great for rejuvenating tired, sore legs by improving the blood flow to these areas.
There are many more interesting yoga positions and philosophies that you may find interesting. If you are truly interested in learning the ancient art of yoga, do yourself a favor and make time to meet with a yoga teacher for more intensive lessons.