Yoga is both a physical activity and a mental release. People who practice yoga often come to spiritual enlightenment due to their connection between the body and mind.
It’s an exercise you can complete with like-minded individuals, others with the same afflictions as you, or even at home in your PJs.
However, if you are new to yoga or only used to one type of yoga, then you may be unaware of how the different branches of this exercise can help you in different ways.
Here at Dhyana Yoga, we aim to spread awareness about the positive effects of yoga, and its ability to improve your mental and physical self.
At this point, we would love to welcome any readers from YogaToesStudio.com. We have recently acquired the website, and are excited to expand our community in our aim to spread awareness.
Today, we will break down areas in your life where you might find struggles, such as anxiety or physical pain. From there we will explain the different types of yoga that could help you find relief.
Most people do not think about balance in their day-to-day life. However, if our body has been through immense stress such as an accident, or dramatic changes such as deteriorating age, then our ability to balance our body may be reduced.
Why Is Balance Important?
When our ability to balance is strong, we can complete everyday activities such as climbing the stairs, walking, or moving from a sitting to a standing position.
Without our ability to balance, we cannot move smoothly or safely through our lives. As a result, you may end up falling which in turn can lead to further issues such as broken bones or anxiety around movement.
Yoga To Improve Balance
Bikram yoga is a type of hot yoga. This means that temperatures are pretty high during the exercise in an attempt to make you sweat more.
Due to the additional heat, your body has to work its muscles harder to both keep your cool and hold your position. This means that traditional yoga poses have new elements to contend with.
Along with improving your balance, Bikram yoga also helps improve your flexibility.
We will discuss flexibility in more detail later, but the additional heat allows your body to loosen up more. And from that loosened state, you can stretch your body more easily, creating room to strengthen your body.
If the idea of hot yoga doesn’t sound appealing, then perhaps you should consider vinyasa yoga. This type of yoga is the one you see most often on social media. It’s all about static poses and using control to maintain your balance and your mind.
When you change from one static pose to another, you need to do so with a flowing movement, like water reaching a lake. This helps you create flowing motions in your mind instead of allowing irritating or jarring concepts to block you.
Because you are concentrating on static and flowing movement, you will be strengthening your balance too. It might take time to reach the perfect pose transitions, but that’s part of learning a new skill.
If you want to push yourself, you can always try goat yoga. This yoga often follows simple poses, however, a goat may jump on you at any time.
The added influence of the animals means you need to brace yourself for impacts and hold your body in place when they change your weight distribution.
The concept may seem silly, but the additional concentration you need to maintain your balance is real.
There are many people in the world that find their bodies rigid. This could be something you have experienced your whole life or something that slowly affected your body over time. Either way, an inflexible body can cause a lot of problems for your health.
Why Is Inflexibility Bad?
When your body becomes inflexible, you will experience joint tightness around your muscles. This means that you have to work harder and cause more pain to your joints simply to complete standard movements.
Over time, this can result in pain walking up the stairs, problems maintaining your muscle structure, and difficulty reaching for items in high places.
Yoga To Increase Flexibility
All types of yoga can help you develop strong muscles and more flexible joints. However, there are a few styles that really focus on this issue.
The first we want to mention is aerial yoga. Aerial yoga combines traditional yoga with aerial pilates.
The movements are often completed on a hammock or a yoga swing. You will end up moving like a trapezist as you gracefully transition from one position to another.
You don’t need to be a yoga enthusiast to start the aerial variation, however having background knowledge of the poses and the ability to hold your core, can help you reach the more difficult poses faster.
Aerial yoga is particularly great for flexibility as you need to have good form to complete the movements.
You’ll be working on strengthening and stretching your muscles, while also working on a low-impact exercise. It’s the perfect formula to loosen your joint tension and work on improving your range of motion.
If you already live a flexible life and want to develop a skill you already have, then you should try jumping in at the deep end. Acro yoga combines acrobatics with yoga. It forces you to be agile and strong, flexible and balanced.
The strange combination of sports works surprisingly well together, as both prioritize form and movement over any other goal.
If you need your yoga to be fast-paced, challenging, and calorie-burning, while also improving your mobility, then acro yoga is the version for you.
You can start your first session of prenatal yoga in your first trimester all the way up to your birthing date.
However, you will need to adapt your sessions going into the third trimester as your body will already be stretching in unusual ways to make room for your growing baby.
Why Yoga Is Great During Pregnancy
When you give birth you need to complete breathing exercises to reduce your pain and stay focused on the task of bringing life into the world.
If you don’t breathe properly, you can easily start to hyperventilate causing complications to your and your child’s health.
One of the main techniques that yoga teaches is how to breathe. These techniques are designed to give you clarity and tranquility, but they can be easily transferred to pain relief while your pregnancy is at its climax.
Secondly, yoga also increases your flexibility and strength. This will decrease the amount of lower back pain you will experience, and reduce the number of tears you will experience.
While you are pregnant, your baby will push your organs around, and your body will readjust your muscle placement to make way for the child.
With yoga you can increase your flexibility, allowing you to stretch in ways to release the tension created from this dramatic movement.
Yoga While Pregnant
The yoga you participate in while pregnant should reflect the activity level you are currently used to. If you never really exercise, then the sessions should be minimal to avoid shocking your body.
If you exercise intensely, you can indulge in a fierce yoga program as your body is already prepared for the adventure.
However, you shouldn’t participate in any yoga that affects your overall body temperature. Hot yoga is a big no.
Instead, you should attempt the cat-cow pose mentioned in the “Relieving Shoulder Pain” subheading below, along with the bridge pose mentioned in the “Restoring Posture” subheading.
Because yoga can help you improve your balance and your flexibility, it can also help you create a stronger posture. This is due to the control and strengthening of your back muscles through exercise.
If you have a medical condition such as scoliosis, yoga will not be able to cure your posture, but it can reduce pain from the condition.
Why Is Posture Important?
If your posture is strong, you are less likely to develop back pain, neck pain, or indigestion. This is because your spinal alignment will allow your muscles to hold your body in balance.
Without this balance, one muscle may take on more weight, which in turn makes it stronger than the others around it. This forces you to lead on that muscle more, creating more pressure in that area.
Looking at indigestion, if your body is hunched, you won’t be giving your abdominal organs the space they need to properly digest your food.
The lack of freedom means your nutrients are often locked in areas of your body for longer than they should be, which can cause acid reflux.
Yoga To Restore Posture
The best poses to help restore your posture aim to improve your flexibility and strength.
We have discussed flexibility already, and later on, we’ll go into detail about strength specifically, but balancing both concepts can be a little tricky.
A good yoga style to follow when restoring your posture is Iyengar yoga. Inspired by the book “Light On Yoga” by B.K.S Iyengar, this type of yoga puts its emphasis on precision, posture and positions.
It doesn’t matter how complex the moves are if you aren’t performing them properly. With that in mind, you’ll end up completing poses with the correct stance, which in turn will realign your posture.
We suggest completing the bridge pose, shoulder opener, and plank pose to help focus on the main areas of your posture.
To complete the bridge pose, you need to keep your feet and hands planted on the floor, while your hips lift up into the area to create a bridge design. Hold it there for 5 breaths and then stand up again.
For a plank pose, you keep your hands planted on the floor, while your toes balance your weight. Your heel shouldn’t touch the floor, and your hips remain straight.
For the shoulder opener, you start in the plank pose, but then move your hips to the ground while stretching your back upward. Some people call this the “seal” pose.
Relieving Shoulder Pain
Shoulder pain or shoulder tension is a common injury in our modern-day lives. Many people work in an office environment, which means they spend a lot of time hunching over a desk and chair, which doesn’t support their body’s needs.
Yoga To Relieve Shoulder Pain
A simple method to reduce your shoulder tension is to complete the cat pose. Often known as Cat and Cow, you can complete this exercise by starting on your hands and knees.
Then inhale through your diaphragm and look up to the ceiling (that’s the cow part), then exhale and look down. Here you roll your back up to make your spine round – like a cat stretching.
This simple technique can help you move your shoulders and stretch them backward and forward to loosen each area of your shoulder blade.
On top of this, you can complete neck rolls and shoulder rolls, which simply require you to move either body part in a rounded fashion, ensuring you stretch your muscles in the process.
Reducing Pain From Sciatica
Sciatica is a condition where the sciatic nerve (which trails from your lower back to your feet), is either strained, compressed, or irritated. Normally, this pain lasts for a couple of months, but some people experience this pain for their entire life – on and off.
We have already discussed posture, and how yoga can help realign your spine, but this area of your body isn’t affected by a rounded back.
Instead, it is caused by sitting for too long, twisting (often from heavy lifting jobs), obesity and diabetes. Therefore the treatments you need can be a mixture of weight loss advice, medication, and physical therapy. This is where yoga comes in.
Yoga To Reduce Sciatica Pain
Stretching the area of your body which contains the trapped nerve can help avoid the high-impact actions which caused the condition in the first place. It can also gently release the nerves being held in their irritating position.
Of course, your doctor will know the best methods for your specific condition, however, practicing yoga can help you find relief.
You can find the best poses for you to attempt in this article dedicated to people with sciatica.
Improve Sleeping Patterns
Many people struggle with sleep, especially in this technological world where everything can overstimulate you with just a simple look. Yoga requires you to detach from technology and restore the connection between your mind and body.
Why Is Sleep Important?
If you cannot get a good night’s sleep, your ability to retain information, problem solve, fight off viruses and maintain emotional stability comes into jeopardy. This is because your body and mind do not have the time they need to relax and recharge.
However, knowing that you need more sleep is just part of the battle. Many people sit in bed waiting for the sandman to bless them with sleeping dust, but to no avail.
It’s in these times that a lifestyle choice might need to change. If you can’t detach from your digital world, adding yoga into your life can help you reach that change.
Yoga To Improve Sleeping Patterns
Any type of physical activity will give your body the hormones it needs to kick start the sleeping process. However restorative yoga is designed specifically to help you relax and unwind.
The movements are slow and fluid, helping you to reach a tranquil state. While the props of cushions and weighted blankets allow you to reach a sense of protection and heaviness.
All of these elements come together, to kick-start your mind and body into a relaxed state.
This type of yoga often takes 40 minutes or so to complete, as you allow your body and mind to truly disconnect from the world around you. But once it’s completed you will feel a sense of calm, and the nights will not feel so long.
Finding A Spiritual Path
Because yoga gives you the time and dedication to focus on yourself and keep your mind clear, it can often become a spiritual endeavor.
Any one of the yoga versions we show to you today could help you find that path, but there are some which are more attuned to your spiritual needs than others.
Take bhakti yoga as an example. This yoga follows the Hindu worship of a personal deity.
No matter who your deity is, or what they represent, the poses and classes are designed to help you connect to this god and allow your mind to stay open to their teachings.
Even if you don’t follow a deity, this connection can allow you to find mindfulness, and allow yourself to exist in the present, while also reaching inner peace.
To some people, spirituality is another name for mindfulness. It’s the concept of being aware of your surroundings and reaching mental clarity. If this is your aim, then you may prefer prana yoga.
Prana means “life force” or “energy”, and its aim is to help you balance your energy in your life, promoting mindfulness and healing. Involved in the practice are breathing techniques, and light stretching.
Developing strength in your body can help you reduce pain and gain a toned body. A lot of people experience pain simply due to weak muscles.
A bad back could have developed through improper lifting methods combined with “sleepy glutes” or a lack of defined lower body muscles.
Yoga To Develop Strength
We cannot say that most yoga practices can help you gain muscle. This is because most aim to keep you flexible or maintain your mental state. However Hatha yoga is different.
Hatha yoga can help you improve your physical fitness (including your flexibility) due to its focus on “disciplining force”. The idea is to focus on the muscles around your core, as these will help you open your airways.
Most of the Hatha yoga techniques include working on your abdomen, pelvis, sides, and back. If you’re starting from scratch, you can incorporate a chair into the session for early learning techniques.
For a more modern version, you may prefer Kripalu yoga which follows in the same footsteps as Hatha but also focuses on aligning your body and including your awareness in each step.
If you already have a strong form or want to push your yoga experience further, then you may wish to incorporate isometric yoga into your routine.
Isometric yoga uses the same level of fitness and strength that Hatha and Kripalu use, however, they need you to hold these challenging positions for long periods of time.
People who attend the gym, and are looking for a new way to test their strength that doesn’t involve adding more repetitions, often opt for isometric yoga.
However if you already have a strong body, and great stability, you may wish to continue to yoga teachings at a faster pace. In that case, pick rocket yoga (a faster version of ashtanga yoga).
It takes 3 classes to learn and is best for people who already have athletic and acrobatic skills, but want to join the yoga community.
To some, strength is more than being able to hold your body for long periods of time, it also means being able to move for long periods too. Cardio and strength training work together, to create a clear flow of energy from your body.
To those people, we suggest joining a power yoga class. Instead of holding difficult poses, these classes teach you how to hold them for long periods of time. This will help you build muscle tone.
They then also require you to jog or even sprint during the session to release any negative energy that may have built up over the week. This allows you to train your cardiovascular muscles while also decluttering your mental health.
Reducing Stress And Anxiety
If you suffer from stress or anxiety, you can use yoga to help find a sense of calm and restore your mind to your natural self.
How To Identify Stress And Anxiety
We don’t need to tell you why stress and anxiety is bad, because the feelings alone will be giving you an overwhelming emotional response. This response is one that most of us hope to avoid at all costs.
However, many people have trouble understanding their emotions. For some, confusion and anxiety can come across as anger, while to others the same feelings result in becoming distant.
So here, we want to explain how to identify these emotions.
First, you need to know the differences between stress and anxiety. Stress is a short-term response to a perceived threat, while anxiety can become lingering and the threat may be hard to identity
Both can cause similar physical symptoms, such as a faster heart rate, a faster breathing pattern, and changes to your bowel movements. However, stress often comes with irritability and loneliness, while anxiety makes you feel a sense of dread and restlessness.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be dealing with stress and anxiety.
Yoga To Reduce Stress And Anxiety
Again, most forms of yoga can help reduce your stress because it forces you to slow down and calm your mind. However, tantric yoga is aimed at helping you become self-aware.
Understanding how your body is communicating with you, and being able to break down your emotions can help you overcome them. With the tantric ideal of understanding oneself, breathwork becomes a large part of the yoga practice.
A very well-known way to find calm during a panic attack is to breathe in for 3, hold, and breathe out for 3. Finding control in your breath can allow you to feel control in the outer world, but it will also slow down your racing heart.
The yoga poses allow you to open up your airways, while also forcing you into powerful poses. These work together to boost your self-esteem and calm your body.
However, if the idea of “letting go” feels a little intense, and focusing on your own body is a little overwhelming, then you may prefer kundalini yoga instead. Kundalini yoga is about challenging and conquering your ego.
It surrounds the idea of acknowledging the “sleeping snake” at the base of your spine and releasing it or controlling it. In doing so, you listen to external noises instead of internal rhythms.
Focusing your mind and attention away from yourself can help you detach from the idea of “self” and in turn allow you to step away from your stresses.
You can use mudras to help focus your energy outside of yourself – using your hands to feel the wind move around you, instead of the chaos of emotions inside.
If you want to follow a yoga theory that truly concentrates on oneself, through calmness, and self-improvement, then we suggest taking up raja yoga.
Raja yoga is all about self-realization while your mind is hectic and busy. Classes for this type of yoga focus on building your self-esteem, expressing positive emotions, and relaxing your mind and spirit.
Raja yoga is arguably the easiest to practice, so if you’re nervous but like the idea of joining a self-realization community, start with raja.
However, if your stress and anxiety are caused by the burdens in your life, then you should opt for karma yoga. Unlike the other version of this stress-releasing activity, karma yoga is designed to help you act unselfishly.
It helps you open your mind to paths you may have been unaware of before, and it helps you develop your own sense of self.
While some people use yoga to connect to themselves and others use it to connect to the world around them, another group of people may use yoga to disconnect from their negative emotions and instead find safety and connection.
These people often used trauma-informed yoga in their practices. Trauma-informed yoga is performed in small groups, and you are asked to process your emotions while going through the physical steps, and as the session comes to completion, you reflect upon your recovery and overall journey.
A lot of people prefer to complete the yoga rituals at home alone, however, it can be hard to enter the correct mindset to release your tensions without an instructor.
The solution to this issue is to choose the right music. Strangely enough, a new form of yoga developed through Covid-19 called Trap Yoga. It used trap music, or hip-hop to create an empowering feeling of strength as you complete your elegant moves.
Reducing Thyroid Disorders
You may be surprised to learn that yoga can help reduce or even cure your thyroid disorders due to improved posture and increased blood circulation in the movements.
What Is A Thyroid Disorder?
Thyroid disease is a type of medical disorder that affects your hormones. Your thyroid gland is found around your neck, and its job is to produce hormones that regulate your metabolism and growth development.
An underactive thyroid gland can cause weight gain, tiredness, dry skin, and muscle aches. This is because you aren’t producing enough hormones to speed your metabolism or recover from the normal wear and tear of life.
An overactive thyroid, however, has too many hormones released into your system. This can result in anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and tiredness.
Yoga To Balance Thyroid Disorders
There are 4 yoga techniques that can help balance your thyroid disorders. They are Kapal Bhati, Nadi Shodhan and Ujjayi.
Kapal Bhati is a type of breathing technique. Simply sit with your spine straight, your shoulder relaxed, and your neck unstrained. Because your thyroid is in your neck, you need these areas to be relaxed.
From there you should take deep breaths, breathing with force and tightening your abs at the same time. Breathe in gently, and out with determination.
For Nadi Shodhan you complete the same posture but you breathe in through the left nostril and out through the right. This is to create a flow of air and energy through your body, allowing for a natural movement.
For Ujjayi, you should keep your mouth closed as you breathe while ensuring that your diaphragm controls your breath.
There are hundreds of different types of yoga, all of which specialize in different areas of growth, mindfulness, strength, and balance. No matter what your general or medical needs are, there will always be a version that can cater to your needs.
And even if all of the names and techniques overwhelm you, know that each of them touches on all of the benefits you can expect in yoga. However, some will be more attuned to one benefit over another.
All of them can help you calm your mind, but raja yoga focuses on self-realization. All of them will help you gain a better posture, but Iyengar yoga focuses on your posture’s precision.
Knowing this you can attend whatever yoga class you have available to you, and if you require something more specific, you can follow the advice in the links above to direct you to more beneficial poses.