The word "yoga" is Sanskrit and means "to unite". It is a practice that originated in India more than 5000 years ago and unites mental, physical and spiritual disciplines. There are many forms of Yoga. The most common type of Yoga is the Hatha Yoga, where the focus is on the "asanas" or postures as a form of exercise. Though yoga includes physical exercise, it is only one component of it. Living a yoga lifestyle includes training your mind, body and breath at the same time, so in additional to the physical component, there is also a breathing and meditation component. The breathing in Yoga is a deep, mindful breathing which stimulates the relaxation response, which is crucial in reducing stress and anxiety. At Amithi, we incorporate breathing exercises with asanas.
The asanas in Yoga are about gently stretching your muscles which releases the lactic acid that builds up with muscle use and causes stiffness, tension, pain, and fatigue. Yoga also increases movement and lubrication in joints, which brings about a sense of ease and fluidity throughout the body.
Many of the classic postures (asanas) in Yoga bring specific benefits to different parts of the body. For example:
The Mountain Pose: Improves posture, balance and self-awareness
The Triangle Pose: Stretches the spine, opens the torso, improves balance and concentration
The Warrior Pose: Strengthens the legs and arms, improves balance and concentration, builds confidence
The Downward Facing Dog Pose: Builds strength, flexibility and awareness, stretches the spine and hamstrings, rests the heart
Benefits of Yoga
The benefits of Yoga are numerous - decreases blood pressure, improves blood circulation (which reduces cholesterol by burning fat), increases pain tolerance, improves posture, provides consistent energy, induces better sleep, improves mood, reduces stress and anxiety, improves concentration and memory and brings about a positive outlook in life. It also strengthens your cardiovascular system, tones and stretches your muscles and improves flexibility, balance, stamina and mental fitness.
Yoga is easy to learn and does not require any type of equipment. At Amithi, we see Yoga as a vital ingredient in life's recipe of optimal well-being.
Tai Chi is as old as Yoga. It is a Chinese form of martial art that is primarily practiced for its health benefits and is used to reduce stress and anxiety. Tai Chi emphasizes complete relaxation and is essentially a form of meditation. Tai Chi combines slow graceful movements that are executed precisely. It teaches mental focus, coordination, balance, relaxation and proper breathing.
Though Tai Chi is slow moving, it does offer many of the benefits of other forms of exercices. You get the strength benefits of weight lifting, flexibility of Yoga and core strength improvement of Pilates. It is a low impact exercise that can be easily adapated for any age group or fitness levels. At Amithi, we believe that a low impact exercise like Tai Chi is an excellent segue for people who do not exercise.