Have you ever seen a person or a group of persons doing peaceful exercises with a special focus? They are most probably practising yoga. Yoga is a combination of different types of harmonious exercises that are aimed at bringing optimum synergy between the mind and the body to reach one’s true physical, mental, and spiritual excellence. People also practise yoga to treat various health problems, including physical and mental issues.
A Brief History of Yoga
The exact history of yoga practices remains widely disputed but it is commonly said to be as old as 5000 years. Widely consented to be originated from India, some people relate it with the Sanskrit and Hinduism.
People also argue that some of the Hindu Gods used to practice yoga for attaining their superpowers and thus these exercises were adopted by their followers. That is why some of the names of yoga exercises are derived from the Hindi and Sanskrit language.
What are the Main Benefits?
As mentioned earlier, yoga has been practised for thousands of years due to its countless benefits. Yoga is done on a regular basis to improve health and fitness, intelligence, relaxation, anti-ageing, and spiritual well-being. Apart from being beneficial for every person, yoga has been known all over the world for its specific benefits to different age and gender groups of the people. Some of the specialized benefits have been described below:
- Benefits of Yoga for Men
Yoga has been known to provide the desired results for men. Most of the men do yoga exercises to gain and increase muscular strength, get relief from physical pain, to remain young, and improve their physical and sexual performance.
- Benefits of Yoga for Women
Women also do yoga extensively to gain multiple benefits. Women perform exercises for increasing their skin and beauty. They also do exercises to remain young, optimize their pregnancy, lose weight, and remain active. Prenatal yoga is majorly meant for pregnant women so that they gain strength and courage for giving a smooth and healthy birth to their child.
- Benefits of Couples Yoga
Couples can also perform yoga together. No matter which exercise they perform, it produces benefits for both of them. Couples yoga induces better understanding and coordination between the couple. It promotes the mutual love and respect between the couple and keeps them fit, healthy and stress-free.
- Benefits of Yoga for Kids
Kids all around the world are advised for doing yoga exercises to achieve self-development and self-awareness. They can also improve their physical and cognitive development through exercises. Some kids are also taught to do specific yoga exercises to improve their height.
- Benefits of Yoga for Elderly People
Apart from kids and young people, yoga is also beneficial for elderly people. As a variety of health and mental issues arise in old age, some elderly people prefer to treat them through yoga exercises. Yoga is beneficial for elderly people to cure their knee and joint pain, relieve body pain and stress.
What are Different Types of Yoga?
Now that we have discussed the general benefits of yoga for men, women, kids and the elderly, we are going to reveal 11 different types that are most common all around the world. These types differ in their ability to perform different actions on the human body. As yoga is mostly performed for specific purposes, these types are selected to fulfil the physical and mental objectives. While there are many old and modern types of yoga in the world, the following are the most common types.
1. Hatha yoga
Hatha yoga is a broader category in all types of yoga. It contains different exercises at a slower pace which is best suited for beginners. Hatha yoga is generally meant for optimizing the physical and mental strength and create greater harmony between both spheres. Literally meaning, Hatha yoga involves the force or power to be achieved through various physical and breathing exercises.
A simple and highly beneficial example of Hatha yoga is the famous bridge pose. Lie down straight on your yoga mat or on the floor facing the sky. Bend your knees while keeping your hands straight on the floor. Now lift your waist and hip to make a bridge. Try to be in this pose for at least 30 seconds and repeat several times. Increase the time and repetition gradually to uncover its benefits.
2. Iyengar yoga
Iyengar yoga is named after its inventor, BKS Iyengar. This type of exercise deals in maximizing the accuracy, focus, and alignment of the body parts. It is widely followed all over the world for gaining flexibility in the muscles. It gained popularity in the late 1960s and yoga lovers followed Mr. Iyengar and his techniques taught by him. It contains a variety of different yoga poses starting from simple exercises and moving forward to the complex ones. You will need to have some kind of accessories to do most of the Iyengar yoga exercises.
Famous Iyengar Pose:
One of the easiest and beginner-friendly Iyengar yoga poses is the Mountain pose. It may seem like just a simple standing posture to a few people but it is a lot more than that. You stand straight with your knees and toes touching each other and with your chest straight. You need to lift the knee cap and thighs upwards and repeat it to gain focus and body alignment.
3. Kundalini yoga
Another type among the famous schools of thought is Kundalini yoga. Sometimes referred to as the mother of all yoga techniques, Kundalini involves physical and breathing practices to unravel the hidden energy in a person. The covert massive energy which is considered to be in the spine is the source of attaining massive powers. Kundalini yoga involves certain exercises that bring forth the person’s ability to elevate the physical and mental potential to a level where a person finds the true purpose of life and finds help in achieving it.
Famous Kundalini Pose:
One of the widely practised Kundalini poses is the Crow pose. You sit down on your yoga mat bearing your weight only on your feet. Stretch both of your arms ahead and keep sitting for at least a minute. Repeat it several times and do it on a daily basis to achieve better energy for survival and fitness.
4. Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga
Ashtanga yoga is linked to attaining the ultimate purification of the body, mind, and soul. It is basically aimed at creating the optimum synchronization between the movements of the body parts and breathing sequences. Ashtanga yoga is for beginners because it involves the basic stages of yoga practices with the mild movements of the body. On the other hand, Vinyasa yoga involves the movements of the body parts at a relatively higher pace where it may be difficult for a beginner to keep a balance between physical movements and breathing. That is why Vinyasa yoga is also called flow yoga.
Popular Ashtanga and Vinyasa Pose:
Lie down on your yoga mat facing upwards. Now lift up both of your legs while keeping your hands straight and still on the mat. Try to keep a balance between your breaths and body posture. Try to repeat it several times to achieve the perfect simulation. Apart from physical fitness, this pose is meant to purify your mind and soul also.
5. Hot and Bikram Yoga
Hot yoga is also one of the highly followed forms of yoga. The main idea behind hot yoga is to create a special environment for practices. The room is set to have specific temperature and humidity that is sometimes hotter than the external environment. The purpose of hot yoga is to make the subjects sweat a lot while doing hot yoga exercises. Bikram yoga is a tougher form of hot yoga. Named after Bikram Choudhary, Bikram yoga has a predefined room temperature and humidity for achieving the optimum results. Weight loss, better immunity, smooth blood circulation, and muscle flexibility are included among the countless benefits of Hot yoga and Bikram yoga,
Bikram Pose Example
Out of the 26 poses of Bikram yoga, with every pose having distinct features and benefits, Hands to Feet is one of the most convincing poses. First of all, set the room temperature to 105 F and humidity to 40%. Now, stand straight and bend your head to reach your knees. Try to touch your head with your knees and hold it there. Now move your hands to hold your heels and try to lift your heels with your hands. Do it on a regular basis to achieve health benefits.
6. Kripalu yoga
Being one of the highly effective yoga techniques, Kripalu yoga attempts to explore the inner self of a person. In addition to the physical and health benefits of Kripalu yoga, it also focuses on the spiritual and mental well-being of the practitioners. Kripalu yoga is also recommended for beginners. Each person undergoes the Kripalu yoga exercises with his or her own objectives. The exercises range from physical movements to breathing habits. Kripalu yoga also penetrates into a person’s daily lives where they can perform Kripalu activities to achieve maximum results.
Simple Kripalu Pose
One of the most common Kripalu yoga techniques is the Chair pose. It may look easier or simple to perform but in reality, it can also be challenging depending upon the health and habits of a person doing chair pose. You do this pose while thinking of sitting on an imaginary chair. Move your back downwards with your thighs bent as if you are sitting on a chair. Move your hand up with the palms stuck to each other. Hold it there for a minute or two and gradually increase the intervals.
7. Jivamukti Yoga
Jivamukti is a relatively different form of yoga which aims to go beyond the physical and mental well-being. It approaches to find the true meaning of life. Literally meaning to have “Freedom of living”, it has a core philosophy that every living thing on earth has been created to get benefits from each other.
Monkey Pose in Jivamukti
The Monkey pose or a Hanuman Asana Pose is required to be performed with high accuracy. This pose requires to stretch your legs. One leg on your front and the other one on your back. After that, you have to raise your hands above your head to make them straight with your palms joined together. This may not be easy for the people who are new to yoga but can be achieved through multiple attempts on a regular basis.
8. Yin yoga
Yin yoga involves relatively slower exercises. The exercises performed under Yin yoga are mainly for the flow of energy in the body and to achieve flexibility in the muscles and joints for better and long-lasting health. It is also highly beneficial for regulating the blood circulation in a human body and to control blood pressure issues.
Feet on the Wall Pose in Yin
One of the easiest and beginner-friendly poses in Yin yoga is placing your feet on the wall and staying there for a few minutes. You can do this pose by lying down beside a wall on your yoga mat facing upwards. Now move ahead towards the wall and raise your feet upwards with the support of the wall. Keep your hands stuck to the floor or the mat. Do this on a regular basis for positive results related to health problems.
9. Restorative yoga
Enough of the worldly affairs and its restlessness! It’s time for relaxation and meditation. Have you ever taken a power nap during working hours? Doesn’t it give you enough energy to work at a higher pace for the rest of the day? That is the idea behind Restorative yoga. Restorative yoga distinguishes itself from the rest of the techniques by offering a variety of exercises to make you completely relax and let a load of worries and hassle go away from you.
The exercises in restorative yoga aim to help you and your body relax. You should take some accessories with you while going for Restorative yoga practices because it involves most of the longer exercises to give your body an adequate amount of relaxation. The main idea behind it is that relaxation or meditation is the key to powerful energies. Sometimes, the environment is also customized with a peaceful and light music background to augment the attainment of higher relaxation levels.
Common Example of Restorative Yoga
The famous Corpse pose is one of the simplest examples of Restorative Yoga. You just have to lie down on the ground or on your yoga mat facing upwards. Your legs and hands should be open and stretched in a comfortable way while still touching the ground. Keep lying in this relaxing pose for at least 10 minutes. This will surely take away a huge amount of agitation and tension from your mind and will help you feel light.
10. Prenatal yoga
As the name suggests, Prenatal yoga is meant for optimizing the strength and process of perfect development of the child residing in the abdomen of the pregnant women. It focuses on the exercises that give the required strength and relaxation to pregnant women. These exercises also help pregnant women undergo smoother labour while giving birth to babies. It promotes flexibility in the body of pregnant women so that they can experience a healthier and safer pregnancy.
But, pregnant women need to be careful in performing the prenatal yoga exercises. It is not recommended to go for it in the first trimester of the pregnancy due to the obvious risk of a miscarriage. Women can start the prenatal yoga practices in their second trimester as the pregnancy has then matured.
Easy Prenatal Pose
One of the easiest Prenatal yoga poses is Warrior II pose. You have to stand straight on the yoga mat with your legs apart and stretched a little bit. Open up your hands to make them parallel to the mat as the Titanic pose. Now face towards your right hand and bend your right knee to make your thigh parallel to the mat. Bring your knee back and repeat it several times. This will help you ease your belly and secure your pregnancy.
11. Yoga Nidra
A very specialized type is Yoga Nidra where a person may be called “half-sleeping”. It is different than actual sleeping because, in the latter’s state, a person is majorly unconscious. While in Yoga Nidra, a person is almost sleeping yet he or she can listen to and follow the instructions given by the instructor. This is an ancient Indian technique which has now spread all over the world. The main objectives for practising Yoga Nidra are to achieve ultimate relaxation and release stress. It is also used professionally to treat post-traumatic stress issues.
How is Yoga Nidra Performed
A person or a group of people lie down on the comfortable yoga mats in a specialized environment. They are given specific instructions from the instructor which they absorb. This helps the yoga practitioners disconnect from the outer world to explore the inner self. It also enlightens the brain with positive energies and has many other health benefits.
As the yoga exercises are meant to achieve personal excellence in terms of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, all the types have similar and overlapping benefits because all of them aim to achieve the similar results. If you are convinced to start the yoga exercises, you can choose the most compelling type but you need to define the objective for what you are starting so that you can gauge the results.
What is the Best Time to Exercise?
Can you do yoga exercises at any time of the day? The answer may be in affirmation but you must be wondering about the best time to practice yoga if you are really serious about unveiling the best and quicker results from exercises. Just like other regular exercises, the best time to practice it is in the early morning. Morning is the best time to exercise your body and mind because you have had enough rest and your mind and body are willing to accept whatever you want them to feed.
Benefits of Morning Yoga:
Morning yoga has better efficiency and yields positive results in a shorter period of time. If you find it difficult to go for morning yoga, you can choose to perform the exercises in the evening also. But as we said earlier, the results you would get from morning yoga would be far better and quicker than what you will get from doing yoga at any other time of the day.
Morning yoga has its own benefits to energize your full day. It will optimize your appetite, increase your memory, enhance your physical strength, and will keep you fresh throughout the day.
Yoga for Specific Health Issues
Yoga is not limited to general health and fitness, only. It is a complete science in itself. Practitioners also use exercises to treat a variety of health problems by doing specific exercises. You just need to know which exercise or a pose will be right for you to treat your health issue.
We have included some of the health issues that are being used all over the yogi world to treat various illnesses. You don’t have to consume medicines every time you have a health problem. Why waste money and risk your health in further side effects when you can cure your health problems yourself by doing yoga exercises? Please go through the following list of health problems in which yoga can play a pivotal role in resolving your health problems.
For Weight Loss
Have you heard of a one-minute plank challenge? One-minute plank is derived from the yoga techniques and is a very fast way of getting a flat belly within days. You don’t need to undergo any special arrangements to do the plank exercise. You even do not need to have any special yoga mat or anything like that.
To do the plank exercise, you have to be in the pushup position with slight changes. Unlike the pushup position, you don’t have to bear your weight on your palms. You have to put your arms from elbow to palms on the ground and lift your lower part on your toes. Facing downwards, you have to make a perfectly straight line of your whole body and hold it there without moving for one minute. This is known as plank exercise. While it may seem simple and doable to most of the people, it is hard to maintain its standards with no practice.
Do this plank exercise for one minute a day and you will literally get a flat belly within days. People who used to do the plank exercise properly on a daily basis have reported having lost weight and getting a flat belly within a month.
For Back Pain
Back pain has been witnessed to be one of the most emerging problems in the modern world. Many people suffer from back pain due to a number of reasons. Our busy lives and hectic routines disturb the healthy balance within our body which causes issues like back pain. As our back holds our whole body together for walking, running or spending a normal life, having back pain may disturb our complete lifestyle. Here is where yoga can play an important role.
As yoga has been known to induce flexibility in our muscles, people with back pain have taken advantage of the special exercises to cure their back pain. Exercises like Plow pose, Child’s pose, and Eagle pose are highly effective in treating back pain and giving strength to the spinal cord. These exercises improve flexibility in the spine which avoids further damage to your health and back.
Bridge Pose for Back Pain
One of the most convenient and widely practised yoga poses for treating back pain is the famous Bridge Pose. To do this, you have to lie down on the mat facing upwards. Put your hands on the mat parallel to your body. Bend your knees to place your foot palms on the mat. Now lift your hips and backbone to make your thighs parallel to the mat. Hold it there for a minute. Repeat several times and increase day by day for optimum results.
Having a good digestive system helps in maintaining good health. Our digestive system decides whether we would have sufficient energy to perform our daily lives or not. It is very important to digest whatever we eat or drink to avoid any health problems. Many people with digestive issues use expensive medicines that may have daunting side effects too. Fortunately, there are many yoga exercises that you can perform to optimize your digestion and keep yourself fresh and energetic.
Yoga poses like Bridge pose, Cobra pose, Big toe pose, and Boat pose are highly effective in treating your digestive problems.
Yoga exercises are performed to gain and improve brain powers. As our brain is the most important part of our body that commands our overall body structure, it is of utmost importance to make sure that our brain performs on optimum levels to remain efficient. In addition to making our brain function normally, exercises are also performed to improve intelligence and thinking patterns. Most of the practitioners have confirmed that they have gained and improved mental peace, intelligence, and memory after performing exercises that are specifically designed to take care of the brain.
As our brain needs fresh blood for performing well, all the yoga exercises that boost blood circulation and provide oxygen to our brain are beneficial for our brain. You can try yoga poses like Bridge pose, Plow pose, Big toe pose, and Sanding upside down with the support of the wall for giving strength to your brain.
For Face Beauty
Who in the world would not want to improve his or her face beauty? But would you need facial surgeries or medicines for that purpose? Not at all. Thanks to the yoga inventors, there are many easy exercises that you can do to improve your facial beauty. Fortunately, you don’t have to spare special time for these yoga exercises and you also do not have to make any special arrangements.
There are yoga exercises to treat your double chin issue, remove the face fat, and to treat your facial wrinkles. Lift up your face to see upwards, Take out your tongue to reach your nose and hold it for a few seconds. Repeat several times a day. This simple exercise will be beneficial for treating your double-chin and adding beauty to your facial features.
For 10 Minutes
Are you too busy to spare sufficient time to practice yoga on a daily basis? You can always go for the shorter yet effective yoga exercises by sparing only 10 minutes from your busy routine. No matter how busy your routine is, you must be waking in the morning to go for your work. Try waking up 10 minutes earlier to perform these easy, interesting, and highly effective exercises to keep your health up to the mark.
Yoga exercises like Mountain pose, Bridge pose, Downward dog, and Plank exercises are short and highly beneficial. What else can be shorter than a one-minute plank exercise that has been explained above in this article? This plank exercise is not only used to get rid of your belly fat but is also beneficial in many other ways. It improves overall blood circulation, corrects your posture, strengthens your spine, and improves your digestion to name a few. Try plank exercise every day in the morning and you will definitely be surprised to see its results.
Yoga is an absolute blessing to mankind. Apart from its multiple benefits to the human body, it also promotes the mental and spiritual health of a person. While there are many exercises in the world that effective, you do not have to be confused in deciding which exercise would be best suitable to you. Almost every exercises and poses have overlapping health benefits. You just need to avoid procrastination and start doing exercises from today.