TIPS ON CHOOSING THE BEST PRACTICE FOR YOU.

BY KAT TUDOR

 

The Sanskrit word for “union,” yoga is both spiritual and physical. Using breathing techniques, meditation, and movement, the practice can energize and de-stress, depending on which type of yoga you choose to embrace.

Rife with hybrids—from Yoga Hop, a blend of yoga and hip hop, to yogalates, which pairs yoga with Pilates, to budokon, a fast-paced martial arts/yoga combo, to sweat-inducing hot or power yoga—the yoga menu is as vast as the imagination.

 

Match Your Yoga with Goals

Choosing the practice or type of yoga that is right for you depends on your goals:

  • Do you want to destress?
  • Are you interested in a spiritual practice?
  • Is vigorous exercise your goal?
  • Do you want to be drenched in sweat?

Yoga can fulfill all of those goals…and more. It isn’t uncommon for yoga students to vary their practice, selecting a destressing, gentle stretching class after work, a spiritual session when they are feeling down and a lively sweat-inducing class when they have energy to burn. Following are a few options:

HATHA

What it is: Slower paced, with a focus on breathing and basic poses. The mother of all yoga practices and the root of all modern styles, Hatha is the physical practice of yoga that uses a combination of body postures (asanas), breathing (pranayama) and meditation (dyana), with the goal of invigorating both mind and body. Perfect for beginners.

AQUA

What is it: A low-impact, flowing practice suitable for everyone. Practicing in the water promotes stability, core strength, joint health and balance. The practice will leave you feeling strong, refreshed and completely relaxed. For all levels.

See also What Women Want in an Exercise Routine.

ASHTANGA

What it is: Structured and challenging, for the athletic and more advanced student. Ashtanga consists of six different sequences that students can do at their own pace. Each sequence has a different focus and characteristics. For example, the first sequence, Yoga Chikitsa’s 75 poses, focuses on stamina, flexibility, strength and detoxification. Best for more advanced or athletic students.

VINYASA

What it is: This style is known for the fluid transitions between poses. Because breathing is extremely important, and movements are synchronized with your breath, students tend to sweat. Recommended for students who want lots of variety and movement.

RESTORATIVE

What it is: This style is about healing the body and mind through a series of simple poses. With the help of bolsters, props and pillows, many of the meditative poses are held for up to 20 minutes. Perfect for anyone in need of deep destressing or gentle healing. 

 

 

Kat Tudor is the founder and co-owner of SunWellness Companies, as well as a yoga instructor and artist. SunWater Spa and SunMountain offers a variety of yoga programs, from restorative and gentle aqua yoga, to Ayurveda and a version of a traditional Hatha practice, Sivananda yoga, a 90-minute class with an alternating focus on movement, breath and conscious relaxation to bring awareness within and encourage calmness. More at sunwellness.net.

A prime tool for achieving a less stressful, more centered and happy life.

By Kat Tudor

Rooted in cultures and civilizations thousands of years old, meditation is “in” again. According to Forbes, businesses such as Google, Aetna and the Goldman Sachs Group offer mindful living programs for employees. Scientists have found that as little as 12 minutes a day of meditation over a two-month period can change the physical structure of the brain, and help you process information more efficiently, as well as reduce insomnia, manage anxiety and lead to a happier, more fulfilled life.

Mindfulness Meditation

At the SunWater Spa and the new SunMountain Center, in Manitou Springs, Colorado, developing mindful living is at our core; meditation is a prime tool for achieving a less stressful, more centered life. If you aren’t in our neighborhood, here are tips to help you start an at-home practice. A key: allow yourself to breathe.

  1. Begin with a 5-minute session. Gradually work up to 15-20 minutes.
  2. Relax before you begin. Yoga and a gentle neck self-massage can put you in the mood; comfortable clothing also helps.
  3. Set your timer before you begin. You don’t want to interrupt the “zone” by glancing at your clock.
  4. Find a distraction-free zone in your home, office or yard. The book, Altar Your Space, A Guide To The Restorative Home, is filled with tips on creating a peaceful space.
  5. Relax and be consciously aware of your exhale and inhale as your breathing quiets your mind. Here is an excellent story on breath.
  6. Don’t try to force your mind to stop thinking. This will happen naturally as your practice develops, perhaps by repeating mantras such as these.
  7. Consistency is best. Make this a daily routine.
  8. Experiment with different types of meditation: mantras, transcendental, Zen.
  9. Explore guided meditations. There are many to choose from. Freemindfulness.org provides gratis meditations at varying lengths.
  10. Relax and find the joy.

If you happen to be in Colorado, the SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs, as well as the new SunMountain Center, offer a range of meditation programs, including a Breakthrough Meditation Workshop that focuses on breath. For more information, visit www.sunwaterspa.com or www.sunmountaincenter.com.

Kat Tudor is the founder and creative director of SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs, Colorado, as well as the founder and visionary behind SunMountain Center, a premiere wellness retreat in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

 

Thursday, June 21 is International Yoga Day— a day of celebration, practice, and intention setting. What better way to celebrate our yogi journey than gaining a deeper understanding of our roots, the benefits of our practice, and ways to further expand our practice?

 

A Brief History of Yoga

Ancient Times

The term “yoga” first appeared in ancient India’s earliest known transcripts, the Vedas. These scriptures date back to the beginning of the Vedic period, or 1500 BCE. The Vedas are written in Vedic Sanskrit, and are the oldest writings of Hinduism literature. In the Vedas, “yoga” actually refers to the yoke one would use to attach to animals pulling a cart or chariot. It is also often used to describe a warrior dying and going to heaven, carried by a chariot to reach the gods. By 3rd century BCE, the term “yoga” was being referenced more commonly in the religious scriptures of various religions, including Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. In Buddhism, yoga was referred to as Yogachara, and involved eight steps of meditation. In ancient times, yoga was a practice of religion and meditation, rather than being viewed as exercise as we do now.

 

Core Values of Yoga 


It wasn’t until 5th century, AD, when yoga began to take a more developed concept. Until this point, yoga was based more upon meditation and religion than exercise, as we know it today. It was at this point that several core values were established:


– Analyzation and awareness of one’s own self.
– Uplifting and expanding one’s consciousness.
– Utilization of yoga as means of achieving transcendence.

 

Various Schools of Yoga 


500-1500 AD brought about various schools of yoga, marking the expansion of yoga as a practice for a wide variety of interests.
Bhakti Yoga: A more religious based type of yoga focused on  living a life of love and devotion to God. This type of yoga is considered a spiritual pathway within Hinduism.
Tantra Yoga: A type of yoga that emerged around the 5th century, which outlined new yoga ideology through the Tantras of the medieval era. The goal of yoga outlined by these scriptures is self-deification: to become the deity that is the focus of your practice.” Today, we associate Tantra with sex and sexuality —this is due to the Tantric belief that if yogis had sexual relations with yoginis, or women they believed embodied the Tantric Goddesses, they would reach a transcendent level of consciousness.
Hatha Yoga: The closest to what we now know as “yoga,” Hatha Yoga combines breathing patterns, meditation, and bodily postures to form Asanas.


Modern Yoga

In the early 1890s, Swami Vivekanda, a Hindu Monk touring Europe, brought knowledge of yoga and Hinduism to the West world. More specifically, Swami Vivekanda shared the Yoga Sutras, which describe what he believed to be the main traditions of yoga. These texts urge the reader to focus on one singular thing, rather than the many issues and topics we are often consumed by. As a result, corporate yoga tends to focus on the teachings of the Yoga Sutras.
In the 1960s, Hatha yoga took off in the United States, becoming popular with young Americans. Later, the health benefits of yoga would be shared with the public, causing another surge in popularity in the 1980s. This surge in popularity marks the first time yoga was practiced solely for the physical benefits, rather than the spiritual benefits.
The popularity of yoga has only increased in the last twenty years. As more people dive into practicing yoga, more and more health benefits are revealed by research studies, resulting in even more people being interested in the practice. We can expect the yogi community to continue to grow here in the US in coming years, and more benefits to be revealed to us over time.

Why Practice?

Physical Benefits

Flexibility: One of the most obvious benefits of yoga, improved flexibility, can improve all aspects of your life. You may not be able to reach your toes when you first begin your yoga journey, but you’ll notice after each class, it gets a little bit easier. Soon, you’re able to reach further, both mentally and physically, than ever before. If you suffer from joint pain, you may also notice it begins to alleviate as you delve deeper into your practice. Increased flexibility helps bring the body into alignment, promoting general health and wellbeing.

Strength: When you spend time at the gym lifting weights, you gain muscle mass, but likely at the expense of flexibility. When practicing yoga, you build muscle strength and flexibility at the same time, expanding your ability to perform more complex yoga postures.

Heart Rate: Practicing yoga can lower your resting heart rate, increase endurance, and increase your oxygen uptake during exercise, allowing you to safely exercise for a longer amount of time.

Spiritual

Awareness: Awareness, both within and without is an essential part of yoga practice. Your mat is your mirror, revealing the different ways you act, both good and bad, and providing you a way to manage your emotions.

Inner Peace: Through our practice, we learn deep breathing patterns. The act of focusing on your breath and breathing intentionally brings about a sense of focus and serenity as it calms your nervous system.

Self Acceptance: Yoga is a noncompetitive activity which actively encourages positive thoughts and practices. As there is no good or bad way to do yoga, only what is, you come to accept yourself in whatever state you are in.

Expand Your Practice

With a wide variety of yoga, meditation, and movement classes, SunWater Spa is the ideal location for expanding your practice. Allow us to join you on your yogi journey and experience new teachers, styles of yoga, and spiritual practices with us. Let’s delve into our practice and celebrate International Yoga Day as a community!