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Yoga is a therapy that aims to unite the mind, soul and body. Most yoga styles are derived from hatha yoga, a type of yoga that focuses on the body and breath and aims to develop control the body through poses (or asanas). Hatha represents the two sides of life – the yin and the yang, the dark and the light – and aims to bring these two sides into harmony and balance. All styles of yoga balance the body, mind and spirit but how they do so may differ. Some styles focus on the poses, while others may focus on breathwork, alignment or the flow of movement.

Breathing is very important in yoga as the breath signifies your vital energy. In yoga, being able to control your breath can help you to control your body and your mind. No matter which style of yoga you choose there are many classes available and the health benefits are many.

Benefits of Yoga

The benefits of yoga are far ranging and plentiful. Following is just some of the things that yoga can help you with:

The great thing about yoga is that anyone can practice it, as there is a style to suit everybody.

Main Styles of Yoga

There are several different styles of yoga, indeed too many to list here. However, there are some common styles and these are outlined below:

Finding a Yoga School or Yoga Teacher

There are several different ways of finding a suitable yoga teacher or class, depending on your needs. If you are a beginner, it may be best to take formal classes or tuition for a while, so that you can get the feel for the poses and the breathwork, and so that the teacher can correct any errors in your posture. Many gyms offer yoga classes, and classes are also advertised in your local paper. It is merely a matter of finding a class that appeals to you.

Ask questions of your potential teacher and ensure that you will be comfortable with them. Some questions that you ask may include what their qualifications are, how long they have been teaching for, what experience they have in teaching people with special needs (such as injuries or health concerns), what level the class is (beginner’s, intermediate, or advanced), what equipment you require and how much the classes will cost.

You may also opt to learn from a yoga book or a video but you will be on your own. It may be better to take some classes first in order to gain an idea of how to correctly perform the basic poses before moving on to a book or video. This way, you may prevent injury.

When taking a yoga class, dress comfortably in clothing that fits snugly but not tightly. You should have plenty of room to move without being distracted by loose fabric. Shoes are not required as yoga is practised barefoot. You may also need a yoga mat, which provides cushioning and friction to allow you to attain the various poses.