It’s common knowledge that regular exercise such as Yoga can improve not only our fitness, but also our mental and physical health. In fact, many studies, including those of the NHS, have concluded that there is ”some evidence that regular Yoga practice is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains – including lower back pain – depression and stress”. Our Yoga classes cater to all ages and levels of fitness and are designed to improve body and mind, within a relaxing community environment.
What is Yoga?
Practiced for more than 5000 years and originating from India, Yoga is a traditional discipline designed to nurture the mind and body. Yoga typically comprises a combination of postures or asanas (physical poses), controlled breathing exercises and meditation or relaxation. Numerous forms of Yoga have developed throughout this time, each focused on different elements of exercise and healing. Some of the most common forms of Yoga include:
Hatha Yoga is considered to be a good entry point to Yoga for beginners as it is typically practiced at a slower pace than some other forms. The literal translation of the word Hatha, derived from the Sanskrit word हठ, is force and Hatha Yoga places particular emphasis on controlled breathing and posture, moving the body slowly and deliberately into different postures (asanas) that challenge strength and flexibility – focusing on relaxation and mindfulness.
Also known as ‘flow Yoga’ this discipline differs from Hatha Yoga in that postures are combined seamlessly to create a ‘flow’ of movement. Mindfulness, strength, muscle tone and endurance are the focus of Vinyasa Yoga, but as with all forms of Yoga it has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Involving chanting, singing, breathing exercises, and repetitive poses, Kundalini Yoga focuses on activating the spiritual energy that’s said to be located at the base of your spine, Shakti. Unlike Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga which are primarily based around physical movement, Kundalini Yoga places emphasis on the spiritual aspect and is said to improve cognitive function and self-perception whilst reducing anxiety and stress.
Iyengar Yoga is distinguished by its attention to alignment, and unlike other forms often includes props in order to increase awareness of position. Asanas are often held for longer periods of time than flow style forms and it is reported to provide relief from chronic pain as well as reduced blood pressure and improved energy levels.
A fixed sequence of 26 poses practiced in a room at 41°C Bikram Yoga combines 24 asanas (poses) and 2 pranayama (breathing exercises), of which the second is a shatkarma (purification). The benefits of this discipline include increased muscle strength and flexibility, as well as weight loss and the expulsion of toxins through sweat ultimately nourishing skin.
What to expect at a Bluecoat Sports Yoga class
Our yoga sessions offer a blend of a variety of yoga disciplines that take the best of each of the yoga styles to offer a wide variety of yoga practices for everybody to enjoy. Find out more about Yoga at Bluecoat Sports and see our timetable.
What are the benefits of Yoga?
The reported benefits of Yoga are extensive and whilst scientific research is ongoing, there can be no doubt that practicing Yoga can be highly beneficial to our physical and mental health.
Health and fitness benefits
Improve strength, posture, flexibility and balance
Strength, posture, flexibility and balance are intrinsically linked and a shortfall in one can often negatively impact the remaining. Practicing Yoga will, over a period of time, lead to improved flexibility and muscle strength resulting in improved posture and balance.
Increase blood flow and boost immunity
Yoga boosts levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues. Combined with physical movement which increases heart rate this helps to improve blood flow minimising the risks of clots, strokes and heart attacks. It is also thought that the meditation involved in Yoga can actually have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system helping to boost immunity.
Improve bone health and reduce aches and pains
Weight bearing exercises are well known for improving bone health and fighting osteoporosis and many of the asanas involved in Yoga require exactly that. Additionally, the movement and increased mobility associated with Yoga practice can also reduce the risk of chronic ailments such as arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome as well as reduce the general aches and pains associated with poor posture and tension.
Mental health benefits
Reduce anxiety, depression and stress
Physical wellbeing is closely tied with mental wellbeing and Yoga combines movement, breathing and meditation to offer considerable physical and mental benefits. Yoga can significantly increase serotonin levels reducing anxiety, depression and stress ultimately increasing the happiness of the participant.
Improve sleep cycle
Yoga is also said to aid deeper sleep cycles, improving sleep quality which in turn can improve focus and productivity as well as helping to reduce stress and the risk of serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease.
How to start Yoga
Whilst many practice Yoga alone we would recommend attending a class run by qualified Yoga teachers, especially for beginners. As well as minimising the risk of injury, participation within a community setting as run by qualified professionals will also improve the quality of your journey.
We offer a range of classes aimed at varying levels of ability in which we encourage our members to progress and develop at their own pace – enjoying the health and wellbeing rewards of Yoga within a controlled and professional environment.
Attend a Yoga class in Horsham
Start your Yoga journey today with Bluecoat Sports Yoga classes. Not a member? Join us today and take advantage of Bluecoats health experience, with more than 60 exercise classes per week as well as a fully equipped gym and much more. Existing member? Log in to book your classes today.