This is a guest post by Shannon Lochwood
For yoga enthusiasts around the world, it is more than just something to do in your free time–it is a way of life. Those who love yoga appreciate the fact that it is constantly changing, never leaving you with enough time to get bored.
As yoga has evolved over the centuries, each new form has introduced different benefits and emphasis’ that come along with it. In the most recent years, yoga fans can’t help but get excited about the exciting directions yoga is headed.
A brief history of ancient yoga may be interesting to see just how far we have come, and exactly where we are going.
The most widely accepted belief is that yoga began in India, although the exact timeframe is unclear. Scholars trust that it came from a form of shamanism, where the poses and basic principles were used to help people become more self-disciplined, as well as for different healing purposes.
There were several different forms of yoga that constituted the early years. Vedic yoga, aiming to free the mind and move past mental limitations, is one of the earliest forms, yet is still practiced today. Classical yoga came into play after vedic yoga, and was less about physical poses, and instead focused on meditation.
Modern yoga, sometimes referred to as post-classical yoga, is the standard form that yoga enthusiasts typically do in studios today. Rather than being classified in just one category, it combines both meditation and physical exercise. Those participating get the best of both worlds.
Bikram yoga, or hot yoga, has increased in popularity in recent years. The yoga takes place in a heated room, which, of course, makes it more difficult. Bikram yoga raises the level of difficulty noticeably.
Many people who practice hot yoga also believe that it purifies the body by removing impurities through sweat, while keeping the muscles loose to prevent injuries.
Unique Forms of Yoga
Yoga has evolved considerably over the last decade, and while basic forms are still practiced, many people are looking for different versions for their physical benefits. These new forms are exciting and challenging for yoga enthusiasts, bringing a new level of difficulty overall.
These new forms of yoga are commonly practiced at different levels, so even though they might seem strenuous, they can be done by most people.
Power yoga is often described as the American form of yoga because it incorporates positions reminiscent of calisthenics exercises, like pushups. Power yoga became particularly popular in the late 1990’s, when the profile of traditional Ashtanga yoga was also on the rise.
Power yoga can be very strenuous, and for many people, it’s more active than they initially imagine yoga to be. However, even beginners can take up yoga with a minimal overall fitness level, as long as they’re healthy enough for strenuous activity.
Aerial yoga, which requires the use of a silk hammock designed to hold the body’s weight in a variety of positions, is a fairly difficult form of exercise, but it tends to be more gentle than power yoga. However, aerial yoga does require a person to support their own bodyweight in many poses, which is what contributes to the increased strength, balance, and muscle tone that can come from practicing aerial yoga regularly.
While aerial yoga is relatively new, it’s become very popular since the mid-2000’s, particularly in metropolitan cities where yoga studios are prevalent.
Today, many people do yoga for a variety of different reasons. Some people do yoga purely as exercise, often choosing hot yoga or aerial yoga to improve their overall physical fitness.
Many people also mix and match strenuous physical classes with basic yoga classes throughout the week designed to improve mental focus and clarity. Most yoga practitioners believe this is really the best of both worlds – combining the physical and mental benefits of yoga gives them a thrill like no other.
Shannon Lochwood contributes to Bellezza Spa Blog and also enjoys writing for other health and fitness blogs. When she isn’t writing she loves to be active and find new ways to exercise. One of her other hobbies is cooking, healthy recipes of course.
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