Yoga provides us with tools, at once subtle and powerful, that help us to cope with all aspects of life. Although yoga has its roots in ancient India, it continues to be relevant to us today. The word "yoga" derives from the Sanskrit term meaning "union": yoga is the art and discipline that brings union of body, breath and mind, enabling us to connect to our own inner tranquillity.
The practice of Yoga
The practice of yoga builds on the foundation of our instinctive wisdom, which includes treating ourselves and others with respect, adopting a healthy, moderate lifestyle, and being truthful in all our dealings.
Asanas (yoga postures) develop strength, flexibility and balance, as well as stimulating the flow of natural energy. They may be practised dynamically or held for longer periods of time.
Regular practice of asana, combined with breath awareness, prepares us for pranayama (breathing in specific ways to regulate the flow of prana - vital energy), concentration and meditation.
Other yoga practices include kriya (cleansing techniques), mudra (gestures that serve to direct prana in a particular way), chanting and relaxation methods.
Yoga may be practised by people of any age group and all levels of ability. It improves posture and body awareness and helps us to develop both physical balance and inner stability. Through the practice of yoga we discover how to release tension and quieten the mind.
Choosing a class
British Wheel of Yoga diploma teachers have undergone rigorous training to a nationally accredited standard. They are fully insured and are required to undertake Continuing Professional Development each year.
Many teachers have also done further specialist training, for example in Yoga for Pregnancy or Yoga for People living with Cancer. Each teacher will have his or her own distinctive style, so take time to choose a class that suits you.
Yoga is generally practised on non-slip mats. Often blocks, belts or other props are used, so check with your teacher what equipment you will need to bring to class. Wear comfortable clothing in which you can move and stretch easily, and take a blanket to keep you warm during relaxation.
Avoiding eating a large meal two to three hours before your yoga class.
For some medical conditions you should seek the advice of your doctor before taking up yoga. It is important to inform your teacher of any medical conditions you may have. All such information will be treated confidentially.