Dear Barb – Yoga

Dear Barb: I look forward to reading your column every week. I am in my early forties and have recently developed high blood pressure. My doctor has recommended Yoga classes. I really don’t know a lot about Yoga. Are there different types of Yoga? If so what would be the best type for me to take? I would appreciate any advice you may have.

Karen in London

Hi Karen, I’m glad you enjoy my column.

There are many different types of yoga including Hatha, Bhakti, Karma, Jnana, Raja, Tantra and Purna. Each type emphasizes a unique philosophy and belief system. For example, Hatha yoga, which I will discuss later, is the yoga of vitality. Bhakti, is the yoga of love; Karma is the yoga of selfless action; Jnana is the yoga of knowledge; Raja is the highest form of yoga; Mantra yoga means union by voice or sound; Tantra yoga is practiced by many religious traditions and follows a celibate life path; Integral yoga is an integration of all types of yoga.

Yoga originated in India and dates back to 3000 BC. Yoga is exercise for both the mind and body and can easily be incorporated into one’s daily life. As a beginner some of the yoga postures may seem impossible, however yoga instructors advise their students to only do what feels comfortable. If you decide to pursue yoga, you will gradually progress to the point where you can do what seems impossible right now.

Hatha yoga, the most popular yoga practiced in the Western world, aspires to keep the body in the best physical condition. The practice of yoga prevents many ailments and provides relief from many conditions already present. Most beginner yoga classes are Hatha Yoga, as it is slow and gentle. It is particularly beneficial for people who sit at a desk for long hours. The student of Hatha yoga learns a variety of postures and breathing techniques to gain control of their body. For someone with high blood pressure, the deep breathing techniques used in yoga have proven to be very effective in relaxing the body and helping to lower the blood pressure. Meditation is also an important part of Hatha Yoga as it improves concentration and focus. For most people yoga provides an all around sense of well-being.

The physical benefits of yoga cover a broad spectrum and include increased flexibility, better posture, improved circulation and decreased tension. Mental benefits include better control of emotions, a sense of inner peace and a positive and happy outlook.

Yoga is quite popular in our fast paced society, so I’m sure you will not have any difficulty finding a class in your neighborhood. Let us know how you make out Karen.

E-mail your questions to advice.voice@ausu.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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