A Guide to Yoga: History, Benefits, and more
Published: 27th April, 2021
What is Yoga?
The practice originated in India about 5,000 years ago and has been adapted in other countries in a variety of ways. The original purpose of yoga was spiritual development; to train the body and mind to self observe and become aware of their own nature.
Nowadays, anyone can take part, with both beginner and advanced classes. Yoga is an excellent way to manage daily stress and help both physical and mental wellbeing, as it focuses on strength, flexibility, breathing, and being aware of oneself.
Health Benefits of Yoga
- A lot of scientific trials of varying quality have been published on yoga. Yoga is believed to have some health benefits such as:
- It is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance
- It can be beneficial for people with aches and pains – including lower back pain
- Yoga can help give you more energy and brighten your mood
- Helps to manage daily stress
- It relaxes you, which can lead to an improved sleeping pattern
Does yoga count towards the recommended amount of activity?
As recommended by the government, adults aged between 19 and 64 must do 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week.
However, most forms of yoga are not strenuous enough to count towards your 150 minutes of moderate activity. But, yoga does count as a strengthening exercise, and at least 2 sessions a week will help you meet the guidelines on muscle-strengthening activities.
You can find out more about what counts towards your weekly exercise on the NHS Healthy Living and Conditions Guide.
Am I young and fit enough to take part in Yoga?
Yes. People often start yoga in their 70s, many saying they wish they had started earlier. Yoga is an accessible form of exercise, with classes for every age group. Yoga is a form of exercise that can be enjoyed at any time, from childhood to advanced years.
Yoga is also suitable for any fitness level. For example, to join a mixed-ability yoga class, the minimum requirement is that you need to be able to get up and down from the floor. Some classes even involve chairs. With yoga practice over time, it will become easier and you will build strength to become a more advanced yogi (yoga practitioner).
There are many different styles of yoga, such as:
- Ashtanga - Considered the most challenging
- Iyengar - Good for cultivating strength and stability
- Hatha Yoga - Recommended for beginners
Some styles are more vigorous than others, while some may have a different area of emphasis, such as posture or breathing. Yoga teachers develop their own practice by studying more than one style. The best thing to do when searching for the right yoga class for you, is to find out what fitness level is recommended in order to take part.
Other ways to take part in yoga
You don’t necessarily need to join a yoga class physically, as there are plenty of good options on youtube, as well as virtual classes. However, it is better when starting out to join a class in person because this can help you to learn the right techniques and poses, as well as getting help from your teacher and other yogis.
Can I injure myself doing yoga?
Yoga-related injuries are rare, and are generally only caused by repetitive strain or overstretching. Yoga is generally very safe, but it is advisable to learn from a qualified yoga teacher and choose a class appropriate to your level, so you don’t get an injury.
If you do suffer from a joint injury and don’t want to do further damage, Actimove supports are useful in caring for knees, ankles, wrists, elbows and thumbs. The orthopaedic supports and braces are reliable in protecting you when recovering from an injury, overcoming daily arthritis or dealing with movement pain-related challenges. These are ideal in preventing a sports injury or caring for one. This will help your yoga practise, as you can feel protected whilst taking part. To learn more about sports related injuries, you can read our Sports Injuries blog, which has more guidance on how to care for and treat them.
Stress Management Techniques
Yoga is believed to help in reducing stress and anxiety, helping you feel calm and boosting self esteem. As well as this, you can help reduce daily stress and anxiety by trying a range of homeopathic products. Homeopathic medicine is a complementary system, in which conditions are treated by using a very small dose of a natural substance. Similar to Yoga, it can be a more natural way to calm yourself down.
Kalms Rhodiola Tablets are a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of symptoms associated with stress, such as fatigue, exhaustion and mild anxiety, based on traditional use only.
My Trusty was researched and developed by NHS skincare experts to provide better care for patients' dry, itchy skin. Owned by the NHS and used by skincare professionals, this award winning natural sunflower oil moisturiser is safe to use on all ages upwards of 8 weeks old. Lavender is commonly used in aromatherapy and is believed to promote calmness.
Motion Nutrition Unplug is a soothing blend of botanicals and minerals including magnesium, which contributes to normal psychological function, iodine, which contributes to normal production of thyroid hormones and normal functioning of the nervous system, and zinc, which contributes to normal cognitive function, normal DNA synthesis and the protection of cells from oxidative stress.
Puressentiel Rest & Relax Air Spray is a 100% natural solution to prepare to sleep for peaceful, serene and restful nights. It provides relaxation and rest and soothes everyday stress.
It is important to speak to your doctor if stress and anxiety is impacting your life. A doctor can provide tailored support and treatment. Homeopathy and yoga are not proven treatments for stress or anxiety.