By addressing the physical, mental and emotional components of which we are all an amalgam, yoga offers many styles of application, and a class can be as different as playing a gentle game of ping pong or a fast soccer match. Yoga lets you tune in, chill out and shape up, all at the same time.
Iyenga, Ashtanga and Kundalini are just some of the various types of yoga offered at almost all of Virgin Active SA clubs but it is important to try a few different classes before committing to the style that best suits your athletic and meditative capabilities.
Mental and spiritual freedom
Whether brutally intense, physically easy or just a meditative spiritual process, every active yoga style includes the physical body as a means to attain mental and spiritual freedom.
But keep in mind that yoga is no quick-fix instant cure all.
It’s important to ease into it gradually, working at your own pace, and slowly letting it seep into your daily habits. You are not going to banish 30 years of stress with just a few yoga classes. But just committing to them is a good start.
Unless you are suffering from a dangerous medical condition, carrying more than double your ideal body weight or are so severely traumatised that nothing works, yoga will gradually improve your mental state and help you deal with tension and worry in a positive way. Everyone must have a preliminary doctor’s consultation.
On a physical level, yoga goes beyond just toning and strengthening muscles. Its powerful combination of stretching postures and controlled deep breathing balances the digestive and hormonal systems while also lowering blood pressure and relaxing the nervous system.
Cheaper than pills
What better way to achieve well-being, and surely cheaper than a lifetime on pills or the psychiatrists’ couch?
I recommend that physically-debilitated beginners start with gentle sessions of Hatha yoga, which is generally less demanding than, say, the more vigorous Ashtanga.
When choosing a class, find a teacher who is sufficiently attuned to your needs to immediately spot when you need help or are likely to injure yourself. Every teacher brings something new and a different set of disciplines, but are there to encourage you to develop your own practice through adjusting and correcting your poses.
Last but not least, the studio must be a place of refuge, rest and quiet.