The touch of yoga for health and wellbeing, strength and flexibility, relaxation, balance and peace…
Welcome to my blog… My name is Paul Rathbone and I am a Hatha Yoga Teacher, trained with the British Wheel of Yoga… I teach in North Durham and Newcastle in the UK teaching the general public and private (one 2 one or small groups) classes…
What is Yoga ?
Yoga provides a really useful tool box, to be used to build and maintain a healthy body and mind. Yoga is an set of practices from India’s ancient past which focuses on posture work, breathing and relaxation techniques to bring the body and mind into a healthy balance. It also help’s maintain this throughout life.
Studies show hatha yoga to be a safe and effective practice. They also reveal the many benefits that are to be gained with regular practice. These include improvements in blood circulation; a reduction in the rate of hardening of the arteries; reduced stress; lowering the risk of heart disease; help with recovery from symptoms of depression; the reduction back pain; enhancing the functioning of the immune system; an increased feeling of well-being and mental clarity; improvements in muscle tone and strength; increases in bone density (which helps to combat osteoporosis) and improved digestion.
Yoga is non competitive so you don’t have to keep up with everyone else : you can just relax and enjoy the practice at your own pace. It is ideal for keeping the ageing process at bay and is suitable for people of any age, some people start yoga in their 60′s or 70′s, and any condition: if you can breathe, then you can do yoga.
To do yoga posture’s you do not have to be already flexible. Posture work helps to develop flexibility. The series of yoga poses(asanas) work to stretch your muscles in a safe and effective way. This releases the lactic acid that builds up with muscle use, that causes stiffness, tension, pain, and tiredness. Posture work increases flexibility and increases lubrication in the joints. It also works on lengthening ligaments, stimulating tendons, and balancing the fascia sheath that surrounds your muscles. This results in a physical sense of ease and fluidity throughout your whole body. It also means we are not distracted by physical aches and pains or imbalances. These benefits can be felt fairly quickly after a few weeks of practice.
Yoga practice increases flexibility while improving strength and muscle tone and these two procedures balance one another. Building muscle tone helps develop postural tability and physical balance and also protects the joints from wear and tear. Posture work builds core strength which helps to improve the functioning of your deep supporting
muscles which, in turn, will improve your posture when standing or sitting. In the Western world we tend to be sedentary for most of the day and this is not good for us as the body is built for movement. Most of us need to increase our activity levels to keep our muscular system functioning optimally. By maintaining muscle tension we can reduce uneven wear and tear on the joints and so reduce the potential for inflammation and pain.
Yoga breathing techniques act as a bridge that links body and mind. They work on the respiratory system and improve lung capacity and efficiency by helping to deepen and lengthen the breath. Physically, this acts to improve sports performance, endurance and focus but it is also effective mentally in that it stimulates the relaxation response by switching off the fight-or-flight adrenaline boost of the stress response. People new to yoga often feel less stressed and more relaxed after their first class: a side effect of yoga practice is that mood is improved and students often find themselves smiling for no apparent reason, feeling happier and more content with life. With the use of specific breathing and meditation techniques the mind will become quiet and the often persistent mental chattering that is a symptom of anxiety and stress can be reduced or eliminated. This empowers the individual and builds confidence to be able to manage life’s ups and downs.
The ability to concentrate is enhanced with the regular practice. Yoga can also be used as a useful therapy to help with conditions such as mild depression, increasing feelings of self esteem and happiness. Yoga is even being studied as an adjunct therapy to relieve symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Other benefits of Yoga breathing techniques include the management of asthma; the lowering of blood pressure and heart rate; and, along with lifestyle changes such as diet, can help to reduce our reliance on medical intervention.
In the modern world we are on the go constantly, working hard and playing hard for many hours a day. We are bombarded by news and information overload, constantly stimulating our minds, almost twenty four hours a day. There are many demands on our time and energy, from work, family, neighbours, and friends. A lot of people try to switch off the only way they know how, by going to the pub, where we are subjected to even more noise and activity. No wonder stress levels are rising, causing more health problems and reaching epidemic proportions in the Western world. How are we supposed to cope with all these demands for our attention ?
Yoga provides the perfect solution. We can learn to relax. Yes, we have to learn to relax – learn to switch off. It is possible to reach a state of perfectly deep and nourishing relaxation for body and mind. This allows a release of all the built up daily tensions and stresses, allows us to turn off the “flight or fight” mechanism, so crucial to our ancient ancestors survival from danger. This allows us to take control of our lives in real and meaningful way, to stop the build up of stress and the unhealthy effect it has on all aspects of our lives.
Through yogic breathing techniques and various relaxation practices, such as Yoga Nidra, we can slow things down and clear the mind, so we can see clearly the answers we are looking for.
So there are many benefits to be gained from starting a yoga practice.