This isn’t the question I most get asked by yoga newcomers, the most frequent question is ‘what is the difference between Yoga and Pilates?’ As I am no expert on Pilates having only ever tried it twice, when answering the question I normally focus on what Yoga is rather than listing the differences.
I used to stumble over my response though because for me yoga is so many things and I would find it hard to summarise it into one short sentence. I would say things like ‘it’s a spiritual practice’ which often resulted in the asker of the question giving me ‘that’ look, you know the one that screams ‘oh god, she hugs trees!’. I would also say that it’s not just a practice for your body but for your mind too, again this often resulted in another blank stare or a response of. . .
If I do yoga will my arms get toned?
I have simplified my response to this question: yoga is a way to release tension. Simple as that. It releases tension from your body and your mind to make you feel more relaxed and happier.
The most popular class that I run is a monthly yoga Nidra session that consists of gentle yoga postures, some simple breath work and then a long guided relaxation that lasts for about 40 minutes. I believe that it is so popular because many of us are often living very fast paced, busy and often stressful lives and people are more and more in need of slowing down and pressing the pause button. We are quite often moving too fast, have too many things to do and a mind full of thoughts, all of which can result in tension.
There are three different types of tension that we carry, physical, emotional and mental.
The physical tension can be released by practising postures and also allowing the body to rest into stillness.
Emotional tensions that can sometimes be held inside us for many years as well as mental tensions caused by excessive mental activity can both be eased by creating focus, meditating and learning to relax properly.
So for me, yoga is a complete practice and also a self enquiry, as we move through our practice mindfully we learn where tensions are and can use the tools provided by yoga to release them, which ultimately makes us happier and healthier.