"Namaste." Have you ever wondered what this word really means? The true definition goes far deeper than a simple greeting like goodbye or hello. The expression, "Namaste," is said to acknowledge your own soul or spirit and its connection to those around you. When used before prayer or meditation, this simple word becomes a powerful statement; a verbal display of the idea that we are all continuously striving for inner peace, balance, and spiritual health.
You may have noticed that your yoga instructor begins or ends each class with "Namaste." This statement sets the tone for yogic practice brilliantly. In a way, yoga is the physical act of Namaste, it is meant to help the individual center him or herself and opens the heart and mind to spiritual peace. The ancient practice of yoga is so effective that even those who are trying yoga for the first time will experience its "balancing" quality almost immediately. This is because yoga began as a preceding practice to deep meditation and is specifically designed to align the spirit and body.
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Yoga and Balance
Yoga is meant to provide the practitioner with complete self awareness and enlightenment through harmonious synchronization of the body and spirit. For those of us who are struggling to find rest, peace, and balance, yoga is an ideal disciplinary exercise. Whether you are a spiritual individual or not, yoga can help ease stress and help you sharpen your focus to restore balance. When we are considered "out of balance," our work may suffer, our home life may tense, and our moods can become erratic. According to the ancient Hindu Yogis, this is because our chakras are not aligned which can result in inner conflict. Yoga can "re-align" the chakras through deep stretching and breathing that increases energy flow to different areas of the body and spirit.
Different Types of Yoga
If you’re ready to begin a routine, start simple. There are many, many different types of yoga out there of which are all based on the ancient practices of the Hindu Yogis. Here are a few to get you started...
This is a great yoga practice for beginners or those with physical limitations since it can easily be converted to chair yoga. Hatha is the gentlest of all the different types; it is slow-paced and puts the majority of emphasis on breathing. This is a perfect practice for those looking to begin a meditation practice. It includes basic beginner poses and has been proven to relieve stress, provide physical exercise, and improve breathing.
Vinyasa is very like Hatha except the poses are meant to synchronize your movement with specific breathing techniques. This type of yoga can help the practitioner build lean muscle and improve flexibility. Vinyasa has been proven not only to tone muscles, but also alleviate symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Ashtanga is considered a "power yoga," due to its high intensity. This type of yoga is meant to focus on the eight limbs and can include lunges, push-ups, and other high-paced moves. The benefits of Ashtanga yoga include better coordination, weight loss, and improved stamina.
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Whether you are a beginner or a veteran who may have fallen out of practice, yoga is one of the most welcoming and easy physical practices to enjoy. One of the most important benefits of yoga is its ability to create and help maintain a healthy mind/body balance that, in turn, can seriously improve your life. So, yes, yoga really can and does help us live a more balanced life. Good luck and Namaste!