Everybody and their mother does yoga in London today; it’s the aerobics of the 70s, the Zumba of the noughties and definitely flavour of the month. Except unlike Barre, Bootcamps or Crossfit, yoga has been around for thousands of years.
Steeped in tradition which goes far beyond the asanas (the physical practice). Yoga is first and foremost a philosophic guide to living well and spiritual enlightenment. In the West, yoga is primarily considered a physical practice. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just how we’ve culturally learned about it. But perhaps there is something to be said for yoga’s longevity and why it’s not just a fad.
It is possible that some of the newer forms of Yoga, such as Vinyasa or Power Yoga will be short-lived in the league of popularity. But traditional forms of the practice such as Sivananda, will likely continue to stand the test of time because their lineage is somewhat closer to the origins of Patanjali’s Hatha.
Hatha is a strand of Yogic teaching that focuses on the physical practice to help prepare the body for meditation and ultimately enlightenment.
Indeed, a lot of the benefits of the practice are found in slower forms. For instance, Sivananda puts emphasis on Pranayama (breath work) which lowers stress levels by increasing the amount of Oxygen to the brain. Sivananda also focuses on the alignment of our bodies which may have become unbalanced through vigorous workouts and constantly sitting down.
Ultimately all types of Yoga aim to unite the mind, body and spirit, but it is with consistent practice that these benefits are felt both in the short and long-term.
Finding a time and a location that is convenient for you, will help you to commit to the practice and receive the many benefits. Yoga should be something you look forward to; a time that you’ve carved out just for your connection to this world, for your health and for your needs alone.
Having the newest leggings or the perfectly toned body is not really part of the practice. Instead, a willingness to be kind to yourself and a commitment to cultivating your practice is the key to a more balanced life.