Joëlle Sleebo, a fitness trainer and a yoga instructor, who has a passion for people’s health and well-being. Picture: Supplied
There are many reasons why yoga is becoming popular today.

For some, who have fallen in love with this venerable practice, it is more than a workout - it’s a way of challenging body and mind.

Experts attribute its popularity to people leaning towards a healthy lifestyle and taking charge of their spirituality.

With June 21 celebrated as International Day of Yoga, the spotlight is on yoga. Social media was abuzz with people participating in yoga challenges.

Yoga’s advantages include increased flexibility, improved metabolism, weight reduction and improved athletic performance.

Joëlle Sleebo, a fitness trainer and yoga instructor, says yoga culture has been growing, with more yoga retreats being organised.

She recently partnered up with Adidas South Africa to celebrate International Day of Yoga at the Cape Town International Convention Centre - an event that brought together about 2000 yogis and raised funds for the charity Earthchild Project.

We asked her about the latest yoga trends.

What is International Yoga Day and why is it important?

Since 2014 it has been celebrated on June 21 and acknowledged by the United Nations.

On this day, people around the globe celebrate yoga and we participate in this international yoga party.

How has the culture of yoga evolved over the years?

Yoga is originally from India and has been practised in the East for centuries. It has become extremely popular in the West as well.

When it originated, yoga practice consisted of one student and teacher. Nowadays it’s practised in groups and there are more varieties in style.

What are some of the most common yoga trends in 2018?

We have seen suspension and aerial yoga, where one uses a hammock to invert and do yoga.

Sculpt yoga, which includes cardiovascular exercises. And acro yoga, where you work as a couple and do acrobatic type of yoga poses while supporting each other.

Practising yoga online is becoming increasingly popular, what are the advantages and disadvantages of online yoga?

Originally the yoga practice was taught in a one-on-one style. The reason was that the teacher would know the student’s body, mind and personal challenges.

The practice and its progress can be adapted by the teacher according to the need of the student.

Its advantages are:

* The student can practise whenever they have time and they do not need to rush to make a class.

* The student can practise anywhere they want, and it can be a cheaper option.

Disadvantages are:

* The student’s technique is not monitored, which increases the risk of injury.

* The student and teacher do not build up a relationship in order for the teacher to adapt the practice according to the student’s need.

The teacher cannot give suggestions for variations that might be more appropriate for the student.

* What is the link between yoga and metabolism?

In yoga, the student becomes more aware of the body, including the digestive system. The student will be more in tune with the food they consume and the way that food makes them feel.

From a physiological point of view, yoga also increases your muscle mass, if combined with a healthy diet. More muscle mass means a stronger metabolism.

In yoga, we have several ways to stimulate the digestive system.

When we twist the upper body and spine, we also stimulate the organs inside the body. This can improve how the digestive system works.

We use specific breathing exercise where, for example, we ‘pump the belly’ which also stimulates the organs and digestive system.

What’s the best time of the day to practise yoga and why?

It depends on your personal preference. The yoga practice has many different poses. Some poses uplift your energy levels and some ground you and calm you.

Personally, I prefer to practise in the morning, as it kick-starts my day and gets my body and mind in the right mindset.

What are the most popular classes in winter and why?

All styles of yoga can be practised all year long.

Many yoga studios offer heated yoga classes which are very nice to do in winter. Just make sure you dress warmly after class.