Over the last two decades, there has been a huge upsurge in the popularity of yoga. Today it's considered a fantastic form of exercise that lets us experience reality in a novel way. Many people criticize this discipline without realizing that it’s not “just another workout”, but can benefit them in ways they would never imagine. The key to understanding yoga is to leave those preconceptions behind.
What does yoga really mean?
Yoga actually means union and is the result of connecting the mind, body, and spirit via different body postures, meditation, and controlled breathing, experiencing the whole universe as part of ourselves, making everything one.
Yoga is an expression of life and represents finding the keys to the nature of our existence. It's not just about contorting your body and holding your breath. Yoga creates harmony between our body, mind, and spirit and brings out the best of our abilities.
Master Patanjali, the founder of yoga, was the first person to propose the “asanas” as the postures that seemed firm and comfortable for every human being and helped helps them achieve the greater good.
Benefits of yoga
Yoga has countless benefits that help us overcome health and wellness issues and keep us going physically and mentally. Whether it is reducing our blood pressure or raising our pain threshold, there are many aspects that yoga works on internally.
When we practice yoga regularly, the circulation in our body is enhanced, promoting oxygenation and causing a significant reduction in blood pressure as the body calms down. When our body relaxes, the pulse rate is lowered - and with time the heart is strong enough to pump more blood in fewer beats. This results in higher cardiovascular endurance.
When you practice yoga you increase your resistance to diseases, activating the digestive system and improving the gastrointestinal functions. Regular practice increases our level of pain tolerance, keeps the metabolism in check, and helps us relax, avoiding unnecessary tension and facilitating better sleep.
Yoga also works on the external body and helps delay aging, relieves stress, teaches us how to control our body, making us look confident and healthy. The most amazing thing about this training method is its simplicity - you use the weight of your own body to gain strength and maintain your ideal weight.
Yoga for emotional health
When we are on the mat, our bodies are filled with refreshing energy that pumps up the mood almost instantly. We immediately focus on the matter at hand, and our mind starts to drain out the stress and troubles that are challenging it. Negative energy is released and this combats depression. The combination of stretches and controlled breathing helps us overcome anxiety. The whole process makes us disengage from our daily thoughts and slowly, with a lot of practice, calmness starts to become a way of life.
The coordinated breathing helps alleviate asthma, clears the nasal passage avoiding sinusitis, and improves nerve health.
Yoga improves blood circulation in the head and hips and the fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients reduces migraines and cures sciatica. Those increased levels of oxygen also help to treat chronic bronchitis. Practising yoga can also reduce or improve the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, constipation, infertility, menopause and back pain
Most important yoga poses for beginners
Depending on our goals and also the problems we are looking to tackle through the practice of Yoga, the perfect unison can be achieved through various exercises.
There are certain postures that are essential to be able to feel comfortable in a class and help you start off on the right path. Remember, no matter what you do, always listen to your body and modify the posture if needed.
- Mountain Pose is the base for many other standing poses and gives us a sense of how to ground into our feet and feel the earth below us.
- Downward Dog pose strengthens the entire body. Yoga myths say that with a down dog a day you keep the doctor away.
- Plank Pose is the best option to strengthen the abdominals, learn how to control the breath and help us stay in a challenging pose.
- The Triangle is a wonderful standing posture to open up the lungs, strengthen the legs, stretch the sides of the waist and tone the whole body in general.
- Tree Posture is a great standing balance to learn to breathe while standing and keeping the body balanced on one foot.
- Warrior Poses are recommended for building strength in the entire lower body and core. Warrior 1 is ideal for stretching open the front body while strengthening the legs, core and upper body. Warrior 2 is a good starter for side postures including triangle, extended angle and half moon balance. Both of them are perfect to gain confidence.
- Bridge Pose is a backbend that stretches the front body and strengthens the back body.
- For yoga practitioners of all levels, Child’s Pose is the ideal resting pose and is highly recommended to use when we’re fatigued in Down Dog or anytime we need a stress/tension relief.
Seven of the best yoga travel destinations
Some of the world’s most beautifully preserved locations also offer dedicated spaces to fill our spiritual well with yoga. These are some of the top destinations:
- Pemuteran, Bali - A small fishing village located on the northwest coast of the island. Famous for the country’s best snorkeling and diving spots.
- North Malé Atoll, the Maldives - A stunning landscape of flawless islands where yoga and meditation hold hands in a unique overwater environment.
- Tofo, Mozambique - An exotic beach town with a state of the art array of corals, manta rays, dolphins, and humpback whales.
- Khajuraho, India - The cradle of yoga, full of outstanding sacred temples and with enviable year-round temperatures, ideal for warming the muscles and relaxing the mind.
- Santa Teresa, Costa Rica - A surfing destination and a significant place to practice yoga in harmony. Its oceanfront is a meeting point of cultures and influences.
- Big Sur, California - Where everyone is pretty much naked. This coastal destination offers yoga, massage, healing arts, plus the renowned sulfur hot spring baths out in the open, with waves pounding against the cliffs.
- Kauai, Hawaii - A breathtaking spot surrounded by vast tropical rainforests, jaw-dropping mountains, and stunning beaches.
Celebrities who have chosen the path of yoga
Gwyneth Paltrow hits the floor six mornings per week from 04:30. A daily routine to improve her self-confidence, reduce stress as well as keeping her body toned. After her workout, she also has time to attend her family roles, her own business and even sparkle in front of a photocall every now and then. Yoga provides her with a daily calm hour just for herself.
Jennifer Aniston finds that yoga gives her the energy and strength to stay focused and relaxed all day long. She has praised yoga for the effect it has on her mental strength and positivity. Finding her self for a while every day makes her feel more confident and empowered.
Tom Hanks thinks yoga is one of the best things he has ever done in his life. Despite he only recently picked up this discipline, he cannot believe the amazing results that he has found. His persistent aches and pains have slowly disappeared and he no longer has to deal with them. After this, he would never put his morning yoga routine to one side.
During her twenties, Jessica Biel struggled to find a direction. She felt so lost that when she took up Yoga everything magically started to be channeled, her life began to make a lot of sense and she worked very hard on finding her inner spirituality. Today she feels a great sense of community when going to yoga classes along with the fact of belonging to a group of people that share a lot of her same values. Half an hour of yoga on a daily basis is enough to change anybody's life.
Russell Brand is an avid meditator with great dedication to his mind and body. He owns a yoga studio where he helps addicts beat their fears through yoga, a discipline that has transformed his life.
For Miranda Kerr yoga has been the core of her wellness and health routine for the past 15 years. She practices yoga on a daily basis due to its core strengthening abilities and how it helps to improve her overall wellness.
Robert Downey Jr. has also spoken openly about the effects that yoga has had on his way of thinking, helping him find emotional balance as well as overcoming his addictions. Intensive Power Flow yoga sessions and have helped him become reflective of his decisions.
David Beckham has taken up Bikram yoga for relieving him of chronic pains after his professional football years. An activity through which he finds a sense of deep relaxation. He also practices Couple’s Power Yoga to tune up with his wife Victoria Beckham.
Jessica Alba is often seen coming to and from different Yoga studios. her favorite workouts are yoga and yoga sculpt and she is also very focused on strengthening her mind and body.
For supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio, yoga is the most effective body toning technique. No matter where is in the world, she will always find ten minutes to practice her relaxation and full body stretch routine.
As you can see many different people have seen how yoga has seriously changed their lives so, why don´t you give it a try and through on one of Porto Brazil´s spectacular Madeiros Jumpsuits? These incredible fitness garments are part of the Beco do Bat collection, a mix between the urban art expressions and the Brazilian shape of the active woman. The whole concept is inspired by the street art of Sao Paulo and the Madeiros Jumpsuit is ideal for unencumbered movement and it has a double layer in the breast to provide you with maximum hold. Choose your favorite color, spread your mat out on the floor and get ready to enter the yoga universe along with Porto Brazil.