A Western Kentucky University Yoga instructor demonstrates the proper breathing techniques for yoga. It is important to understand both breathing in an easy pose and breathing in a challenging pose. This way your breath keeps you balanced and in control all throughout your practice.

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Different types of yoga help  accomplish different goals.  It’s important to know what is what. It is also important to know what you are capable of so that you do not choose a form of yoga that pushes you too hard. These are common types of yoga, so see what is right for you!

1. Bikram yoga- This is also known as hot yoga . It involves temperatures up to 105 , and is usually in a class. It is of course possible to do it on your own, but it’s not recommendable. There are  risks to doing bikram, especially if you are new to it. It is safer to be in a class  the instructor, can be sure your body isn’t over-working. The steamy room is  challenging, but there are only twenty six poses, and most  focus on proper alignment . Bikram  is a great way to sweat it out , but if you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the studio!

2. Hatha Yoga- This is a gentle form of yoga  great for relaxation. It’s great for beginners, because the poses aren’t too strenuous. It  focuses much on breathing, like pranayama. It’s helpful for stress relief , which is very important to your mental health.

3. Vinyasa yoga- This  is sometimes referred to as “flow”, because of the fluidity through the  poses.  There’s no guarantee what exact poses there will be. However, the staple of Vinyasa is the sun salutations series. Vinyasa could be for any level yogi, it all depends on what  poses are involved.

4. Ashtanga yoga- Ashtanga yoga is a more vigorous form of yoga. It  is also known as “power yoga”. Ashtanga can help build strength and detoxify the muscles and organs. This form of yoga is really not ideal for beginners, because there are many challenging poses.  If you are out of shape or have never tried yoga, it might be best not to start with this.

There are of course other forms of yoga, but these are probably the most well known. Again, it important to know what is right for you so you can get the most out of your practice.

If you are someone who has never practiced yoga, you might be curious as to how yoga could be beneficial to your health. Sure, you might think, stretching and deep breathing are great, but what more can it do? What you might not realize is that yoga is so much more than this. There are many benefits of yoga, and hopefully if you are hesitant about trying it this list will convince you.

1. Yoga can build strength. Poses like downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) and plank pose (uttihita chaturanga dandasana)  help strengthen you arms because they are your main source of support for these poses.  Downward facing dog also helps to strengthen your back. Chair pose (utkanasa) also helps to strengthen the back as well as the legs. Yoga helps build strength because you rely on your own body to support you in your practice

2. Yoga can improve posture. Most yoga poses require you to tighten your core in order to stay balanced and in control. This leads to the ability to sit up straighter because your core is stronger. Yoga also raises self awareness, which can help you to notice each time you allow yourself to slip into bad posture.

3. Yoga can improve the quality of your breathing. Breathing in yoga is often times  meditative , especially during times of winding down. The breathing in yoga is always controlled, and comes from the diaphragm . This could teach you how to keep your breathing steady even when struggling through a challenging physical task.

4. Yoga can help relieve stress. This relates back to the breathing in yoga especially. You may remember receiving advice whenever you were stressed out to “take a deep breath”.   Yoga can also help you de-stress through certain poses. Interestingly enough, we hold a lot of negative emotion in our hips. So,  certain hip-openers can help release tension and negative emotion stored there.

There are other benefits to yoga, but these are the main ones. I hope that you will give yoga a chance now that you know it can lead to a healthier you.

These pictures demonstrate certain poses and then a variation of each pose. Some of the poses are very basic poses with a more  challenging twist. Others are more challenging poses with the modified version. This slideshow is to give beginners and more advanced learners the opportunity to do these poses in the range that is comfortable for them.

In order to truly appreciate the practice of yoga, we should learn about where it came from. The history of yoga is both intriguing and a bit mysterious. Yoga has been popularized in the West  in recent years, but it was not always this way.

The exact origins of Yoga remain a mystery, but there are some ideas of how it came to be. We know that it came from India about 5,000 years ago, maybe more.  Originally, Western Scholars believed Yoga was invented around the time of 500 B.C. However, in the 1920’s archaeologists discovered the Indus civilization , alive from 3000 to 1900 b.c. This civilization was quite advanced for its time. Historians were given the idea that Yoga may have come from the Indus by an ancient text called the Rig Veda. This contained ideas consistent to what we consider the core values behind the practice of yoga.

The Rig Veda is the oldest known writing in the Indo-European language. It is written in Sanskrit, the language that most texts about yoga are written in. Archaeologists first believed that it was written by Aryans  who invaded the Indus culture. However, once discovering that this ancient text dated back further than they’d originally thought, they realized these Aryans had been a part of the Indus culture all along.

The Rig Veda contains teachings about the most ancient form of yoga, Vedic Yoga. It focuses on the spiritual side of yoga, and the teachings of Hinduism. Since then, yoga has undergone many changes and been presented in many different forms. However, it would never have come to be if it weren’t for the Indus civilization and the Rig Veda.