New Year, new you? This is the time people often decide to take up yoga. Which can only be a good thing. Glasgow has to be one of the best cities for this through its Glasgow Club classes and its many qualified yoga teachers.
For someone new to yoga, one of the most frustrating things are the different labels: Iyengar, Ashtanga, Hatha, Vinyasa, Bikram, Dru... Already you probably want to give up! The names indicate the way the yoga is taught and is often the name of the teacher that set up that particular school of yoga. Essentially yoga is a series of poses (often referred to as asanas) and breathing techniques (often referred to as pranayama) that enhance your physical health and mental wellbeing.
Hatha yoga is the umbrella term for the poses and breathing techniques. Because you have a body, you need to make sure it is healthy and strong. Then you will be free to move on to a more spiritual level. In my experience, if a teacher refers themselves as a hatha teacher, you will be taught the basics in a more gentle, embracing way. The poses in hatha yoga are the ones you find in all the other different types of yoga. So it might be the best starting point for your yoga journey.
Iyengar (named after and developed by B. K. S. Iyengar). Expect a lot of strong standing poses and holding them for while. The instructions are very precise. Blocks and belts are often used.
Ashtanga (also sometimes referred to as power yoga). Expect to move swiftly and powerfully through a series of poses.
Vinyasa (refers to the flowing sequence). Some classes (such as Iyengar) can be quite static and you are expected to hold a pose for a number of minutes, in vinyasa you use the breath to move from one pose to another. Again, it can be quite challenging.
Bikram (or Hot) yoga. Not for the faint-hearted or completely new to yoga. This is a sequence of 26 poses done in a hot studio (over 40 degrees). The sequence is always the same as is the delivery of the instructions. You should really learn the poses before you attend the class. The sequence takes 90 minutes.
Dru yoga was established in Wales in the late 1970s. Its emphasis is on soft, flowing movements which aim to increase energy levels, ease back pain, and wash away stress.
If you see other labels (Scaravelli, Forrest, etc), just google them to find out a bit more about them.
So when you begin your yoga journey, expect to try out various classes until you find the teacher or type of yoga that suits you. The wonderful thing about yoga is that it can embrace all the different stages in your life.
And if you are not a member of Glasgow Club, you can still drop in at a very reasonable cost. What is not to like? Why not start your yoga journey trying out the different classes to see what might be the one for you. Once you find the one for you, there are many yoga studios throughout Glasgow you can also try out.
I have been reading Sally Brampton's account of depression. For anyone who has experienced depression, it is a very honest and vivid account. I was so sad when she walked into the sea a few months ago.
In the book she talks about the benefits of yoga: 'Together with walking, if there is an exercise that is helpful to someone suffering from depression, I believe it is yoga. It must, though, be done properly and with some persistence. That may seem horribly difficult when you're very ill, but yoga is such a forgiving discipline that even lying on a yoga mat and practising deep, rhythmical breathing is helpful. From there you can build up to five minutes of gentle poses and from there to ten, to twenty and so on.'
I would encourage anyone suffering from depression or any type of anxiety to take up yoga. Don't go for anything too strong such as power or ashtanga yoga or Bikram or hot yoga. Look for something more gentle and laid back (you often see Hatha in its description). Teachers are only too happy to be contacted to discuss the type of class they teach.
If you are free on a Thursday afternoon from 2.30 to 3.45, come along to my Gentle Hatha Yoga class at In the Moment. You can find out more about it here.
Caroline practises and teaches yoga in Glasgow Scotland and runs The Publishing Cupboard. She is the creator of the Nod off Series (where yoga meets grammar learning). If you want to get to grips with French, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese grammar, in a pain-free yogic way, visit www.nodoff.co.uk
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