YOGA – Well-being for the body and mind
Yoga originates in India, and has been practiced for thousands of years. The last decades it has also become established in the West, and the trend is rising.
The word yoga means « union » or « combined ». As a holistic treatment system yoga includes techniques for detoxification, physical exercise, breathing techniques and mental techniques such as relaxation and meditation (alternativ.no). Yoga is not only a treatment method, but is also counted as a form of fitness, and most larger fitness centers have yoga on their schedules. But yoga represents a third type of fitness, significantly different from cardiovascular or weight training. The three types types of fitness do not oppose or exclude each other (dyade.no).
If you dedicate some time and effort to yoga, you will notice getting better at other exercise forms as well.
The yoga triangle
In sports, breathing and focus are not central elements, except as possible aids for improving physical performance. Both are integrated parts of yoga exercises. A typical yoga exercise will have certain bodily movements and a certain breathing pattern accompanied by an effortless, present focus. These elements form the yoga triangle.
Especially in the beginning it is useful to get instruction from a capable teacher. Even the experienced gain more from practicing yoga together with others than they do from practicing it alone. The tendency to push instead of relaxing can be almost imperceptible when practicing yoga alone. The same goes for the tendency to be careless with the breathing, focus and body movements. Practicing yoga together with others sharpens the focus and provides opportunity for corrections.
We interview a yoga instructor
Ashtanga yoga is among the most popular yoga varieties in the West. We have spoken to Giorgio Saia, who practices exactly this type of yoga. He became a certified yoga instructor five years ago, and last year he finished another training based on the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system, approved by the Yoga Alliance.
– Could you first explain what Ashtanga yoga is?
Most yoga types in the West, also Ashtanga yoga, are inspired by the so-called Hatha yoga – one of yoga’s original main branches. « Ha » means sun in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language, while « tha » means moon. Hatha represents the duality of life – yin and yang, masculine and feminine, dark and light. Hatha yoga attempts to balance these opposing forces.
Ashtanga yoga builds on the basic principles of Hatha yoga. In addition, it is a physically challenging form of yoga that provides good exercises for strength, flexibility and endurance. There is a focus on breathing exercises, so-called Bandha (inner energy locks) and on different series of exercises where positions are changed without pause. The goal is to create balance, increase awareness of the body and to increase energy and well-being.
The goal is to create balance, increase awareness of the body and to increase energy and well-being.
– Most people are interested in training either cardio or strength, sometimes both. What type of training is yoga?
It is somewhat other things that are trained, such as balance, posture, flexibility and mobility, but certain yoga exercises also strengthen the muscles, and especially the core muscles. In addition, yoga can help against strain injuries that many acquire from work with a lot of sitting, such as stiff neck and shoulders. Circulation is improved and blocks are removed and opened up. In this way nutrition is supplied to stiff or inflamed areas at the same time as waste is transported away.
– Mange har begrenset med tid til å trene. Er man i full jobb, har barn, osv, rekker man kanskje bare 2-3 ganger i uken. Hva er ditt beste argument for hvorfor man bør «bytte ut» en styrke- eller kondisøkt med yoga?
Alt handler om prioritering og hva man vil ha ut av treningen. Gir du yogaen tid og dedikasjon, vil du merke at du vil bli bedre også i andre idretter.
– Ja, stadig flere toppidrettsutøvere legger jo inn yoga som del av sitt treningsopplegg. Men hvordan kan for eksempel Thor Hushovd bli bedre på sykkel ved å trene yoga?
Før jeg begynte med yoga var jeg faktisk spinninginstruktør. Den største forskjellen jeg merker når jeg nå setter meg på sykkelen, er at jeg har fått bedre kroppskontroll. Fleksibiliteten jeg har fått fra yogaen, får alle bevegelser til å føles lettere, enten det er sykling eller andre idretter. Pusteteknikken fra yogaen har dessuten fått meg til å bli mer bevisst på pusten slik at jeg puster dypere. Den mentale delen av yoga er også utrolig viktig, spesielt i toppidretten, ettersom utøveren trenger å administrere sine ressurser best mulig.