Yoga originated thousands of years ago and it is a practical way to deal with the stresses and strains of modern life. Anyone at any age can practise yoga and you can do it anywhere. The yoga elements of postures, breathing and meditation make this potential possible because they are so adaptable to the individual. Attending a regular yoga class helps maintain good general health by improving the efficiency of the body. It tones the muscles, loosens up the joints, helps lessen back stiffness and improves overall physical strength and stamina. Such benefits are not just physical for the ultimate aim of yoga is to unite the body, mind and spirit through certain practices and movements. It is the fusion of these three elements of our human nature which has given yoga such long-lasting appeal and made it so popular today.
There are many yoga classes as well as clubs and groups throughout Britain and across Europe. Most of these do not own their own meeting place but meet in various venues from health clubs and leisure centres to village and church halls. The great thing about yoga is that you need very little equipment and not a lot of space.
Yoga should always be taught by a qualified and insured instructor. Any equipment used should be safe and appropriate for the activity being done. Some yoga positions should be modified for those with certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure or problem backs. Students should always discuss any medical condition before enrolling in a course.
No one can say that one school of yoga is better than another. Most yoga classes held in western countries fall under the general heading of Hatha Yoga, but there are many other schools and forms such as Hatha, Iyengar, and Ashtanga yoga and lesser known styles ranging from Kripula to Bihar. Different methods and yoga systems suit different people. It is important to find the right kind of yoga for you.
Although most yoga teachers tell them, students often forget all about yoga as a way to awaken the spiritual. They rarely get beyond learning to do the various physical movements and, of course, in themselves these are good for you. However, meditation is an integral part of yoga. Its purpose is to move us forward in our search for the vision of the hidden self. The most immediate benefit of any meditation should be that you feel more calm and relaxed. It is an excellent way of combating stress.
There are yoga classes, courses, weekends and retreats. Classes are usually once a week and each session lasts from about an hour to one hour and a half. Courses are for a set period of time which may be over a number of weeks or months. The course may be general yoga or a specific yoga system like Hatha. A course can also be specially designed to cover only certain aspects of yoga practice, such as meditation. There is usually a set fee and a designated course length. Weekends are usually from Friday to Sunday and have a programme of yoga sessions combined with other group activities and time given to talks and periods of relaxation. These will have a set fee and may involve accommodation and food or not.
Retreats can be near home or in distant shores. They can be for a weekend, a week or even much longer. Yoga retreats almost always contain the holiday element so that you get plenty of rest and relaxation and fun on the retreat as well as lots of yoga teaching and practice. A yoga retreat is an excellent and healthy combination for increasing fitness and getting an emotional detox.
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Great places to learn and practise yoga are in Best Yoga Centres & Retreats by Stafford Whiteaker. This guide makes it easy to get started and find teachers and courses near where you live – or abroad. It also offers yoga retreats and holidays in sunny places from Spain to Greece and much more.