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Tell me what you want and I will tell you what yoga you need

Is yoga a sport? According to the Sports Law in Andalusia, yes, since it meets the requirements set forth therein: “physical activity that aims to improve physical, mental and emotional condition.” Furthermore, Royal Decree 1076/2012, of July 13, includes the instruction of yoga within physical and sports activities aimed at “body care and improvement, increasing the perception of well-being and promoting personal fulfillment.”

For those who think that yoga is only a meditation and relaxation exercisein which muscular or even aerobic work is not developed they are very wrong. And if not, dare them with a class.

What differentiates yoga from other sports is that in your case you cannot separate the physical, the mental/emotional and the consciousness. As pointed out by president of the Andalusian Institute of Yoga (IAYoga), Joaquín García Weil, “the physical and respiratory exploration done in yoga is traditionally oriented towards mental and conscientious development.” And the essential purpose of the practice of this ancient discipline that originated in India is “feel good and be happy”a duty within yoga ethics known as ‘santosha’: «joy and contentment» . “A person who feels good and happy tends to do things well and share their well-being,” she points out.

«Genuine yogis hope to achieve this knowledge and subsequent well-being thanks to a practice that encompasses the physical and mental. And that establishes the link between physical position, breathing mode and states of mind,” explains Weil in his book ‘Mastering genuine yoga techniques’. The traditional Latin quote already said it: “Mens sana in corpore sana.”

The benefits of yoga

Is it recommended for all ages? Are there different modalities depending on the objectives pursued? What does it consist of?

There are many questions that may arise when a person considers doing yoga, especially when social networks are filled with images of ‘yogis’ in impossible postures. The first thing to keep in mind is that Yoga should be practiced in a guided manner with a qualified instructor. In second place, It’s not a competition. Each person has a different physical strength or flexibility and the goal is not to achieve this or that posture as soon as possible, but to improve oneself day by day and, above all, to know the benefits that this sequence of movements has on the body and mind.

A yoga session usually includes asanas or yogic positions, pranayamas or breathing exercises and dhyana or meditation, from which the health of the body benefits and with it greater mental and spiritual balance is achieved, and vice versa.

With the asanas is achieved strengthen muscles, make more flexible the joints, release the trunk and body in general from tension, improve posture and increase the flow of energy through changes in positions: inverts, twists, flexions and arches. Asanas have, according to this ancient tradition, effects beneficial on the respiratory, digestive and circulatory systems.

As the president of IAYoga points out, “it acts as a relaxing massage to eliminate tension from our body, at an organic and cellular level, stimulating organs and the endocrine system.” The goal: achieve comfort in complex positions. This requires firmness, which is achieved through constant practice and greater muscle development. Firmness does not mean tension, since this represents a useless effort that wastes energy. In the practice of asana, energy and relaxation run parallel. «Everything has to flow smoothly and harmoniously. Strive the least to reach the most,” says García Weil.

For its part, with the pranayamas Breathing improves and the person becomes more aware of mental and emotional ups and downs and, in a guided manner, seeks to achieve a positive mentality by balancing emotions.

Lastly, the meditation It is usually done in a sitting position so that, as Guillermo García Weill explains, the slight muscular tension generated in this position does not invite sleep but rather a state of concentration.

Different yoga postures.


Yoga to increase muscle tone

Those who seek among the benefits of yoga, achieving greater muscle tone at the same time, have in Hatha Yoga your best ally. Its literal translation is “strong yoga” or “psychophysical yofa” that places its emphasis on maintaining postures or asanas and coordinating breathing and relaxation through pranayamas. Works muscle strength, flexibility, improves body posture and helps eliminate stress. It also prepares the body and mind for meditation.

It is suitable for all ages, although it requires good physical condition and you have to start at a basic level to evolve with practice.

Within Hatha Yoga there are different schools referred to different teachers. It is the case of Vinyasa, by Krishnamacharya. It is a more dynamic yoga, which consists of moving from one asana or body position to another fluidly (usually beginning with a sun salutation), combining breathing with movement. Sequentially and without maintaining the posture, various asanas can be performed, including standing, sitting, lying and inverted. It requires great relative strength in relation to body weight, making it ideal for those looking to get in shape.. It also includes some aerobic work and requires a great capacity for concentration.

Iyengarby Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, considered one of the main promoters of yoga in the West, is softerseeks therapeutic effects and focuses above all on the body alignment. It is slower than Vinyasa and the postures are held for longer. Helps muscle toning and, above all, the release of stress and tension. In Iyengar style classes, chairs, blankets or belts are usually used as supports to facilitate the mobility of those who practice it, so It is suitable for older people or people with reduced mobility.

He Kundalini Yoga It is based on energy purification (hence it is known as energetic yoga) and its name “coiled up” refers, according to yogic tradition, to the energy in the form of a snake that is located at the base of the spine and its union with the tailbone that, through the performance of different asanas and pranayamas, rises and spreads throughout the body for the full realization of the human being. With its practice, a large amount of energy moves

It was introduced to the United States from India by Yogi Bhajan. Kundalini Yoga sessions begin with the intonation of mantrasfollowed by a warm-up to continue with the kriya or set of yoga postures or asanas, along with special pranayamas such as “breathing of fire”finger and hand gestures (mudras), body restraints (bhandas) and meditation. There are many benefits attributed to Kundalini (it favors the digestive and endocrine systems, strengthens the nervous and immune systems…), but it is highly recommended for increase vital energy, work on spinal flexibility and stimulate concentration and memory.

Shavasana or corpse pose.

To deepen relaxation and meditation

One of the main goals that yoga practitioners seek is to free themselves from stress and achieve inner peace. As said at the beginning, the essential purpose of this practice is to “feel good and be happy.” To do this, there are relaxation and meditation methods that are usually included in the Raja Yoga, also known as ‘mental yoga’. However, as has already been noted, yoga is a psychophysical practice and requires both mental training and concentration on the body.

To achieve a state of relaxation, the most common position in Shavasana or corpse pose, although you can also reach that state in various yoga asanas, preferably standing or sitting cross-legged. Breathe slowly and deeply and maintain conscious attention.

One of the best-known types of relaxation yoga is Nidra (dream yoga). The practitioner, with the guided help of the instructor, reaches a state between sleep and wakefulness in which you connect with your subconscious and unconscious, and enter a state of full physical, mental and emotional relaxation. Its phases are: preparation in Shavasana, determination, mental tour of each area of ​​the body, awareness of breathing, search for sensations, visualization of problems, fears or conflicts with the intention of facing them and finding solutions; repetition of the so-called ‘sankalpa’ (short phrase that is repeated three times at the beginning of the session and at the end, formulated in a positive sense that contains what you want to awaken, enhance, abandon or transform) and finally gradual return of the mind to the awake state.

Refering to meditation, almost all the techniques are related to Buddhism. Vipassana and Zen stand out, among others.

Vipassana It is the first known mode of meditation, attributed directly to Buddha. It means “observation of the true nature of reality”. It is preferably practiced in a sitting position with crossed legs (half lotus, full lotus, Indian or Burmese style) and the concentration is focused on breathing, following the path of the air that enters and leaves through the nose, and the exploration of sensations. of the body and mind to enhance concentration and attention to oneself. It is about identifying thoughts or emotions and letting them pass without judging them. The objective: purification and personal transformation through inner observation.

For its part, meditation ZenIt has many similarities with Vipassana, but the emphasis of breathing is placed on the belly and hands are placed in the cosmic mudra position in the belly area (a right hand rests on the left with the thumbs joined).