Yoga has helped me personally to cope better in my life. It has helped me calm my mind, get a stronger, healthier body and get those few hours in the week just for me to clear my head and just breathe and be. For most of us today life is pretty crazy with to do lists way too long for anybodies good. Then put on top our unhealthy lifestyles and the path to autoimmune disease, depression and un-wellness is pre-carved. That was true for me too for a very long time and I am slowly but surely recovering and making positive changes in many areas of my life. Yoga alone doesn’t do the trick of course, but it is a good start to gain awareness and clarity and create more well-being to then be able to make better choices in our lives.
What is the difference between yin and hatha yoga?
Hatha Yoga is the original form of yoga, from which all other yoga styles emerged. There are many styles these days, some of which I have practiced over the years (Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram, Yin, Hatha, Vinyasa Flow etc.). If you are a beginner it is a good idea to try different styles and classes to see which styles is best for your body and constitution. We are very fortunate in Hawke’s Bay to have many yoga teachers and styles available, so you might as well try them.
My Hatha yoga classes focus on longer held poses, to be able to adjust and feel into the pose with a focus on conscious, deep breathing and stilling mind – making your yoga practice a moving meditation. These classes are a strong practice but not fast paced. In my Hatha yoga classes we focus on gaining and maintaining flexibility and building strong muscles and a strong body.
Yin Yoga is a series of long held poses, which focuses on stressing the facia, joins and connective tissues (not the muscles). When I attended my first Yin Yoga class it felt like coming home – it was the perfect match for me. It is very calming, relaxing and my body feels so good afterwards. This doesn’t mean these are easy classes. It is very challenging for the body to stay in poses for long and work through discomforts that may arise. Poses are held from 2-6 minutes and again I try support students in calming their minds with focus on conscious breathing.
What is yoga?
There are many aspects to yoga. In the western world we mainly associate yoga with the postures / Asana practice. I have attached below a chart of the Eight Limbs of yoga and you can see the posture / Asana practice is only a very small part in yoga. In actual fact one of the main reasons for the original yogies to do asana practice was to enable their bodies to sit in meditation for long periods of time. The goal of all of the yoga practices is described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is yoga”. So pretty much once we are able to still our mind we have archived the goal of yoga. Needless to say that only very few people manage to reach this end goal. But for most of us starting with an Asana / posture practice & Pranayama / breathing is a great introduction in the world of yoga and I am happy to recommend books if you would like to learn more about the yoga philosophy & history.