The yoga community is growing, with many people exploring and practising this form of exercise.
Some do it as stress reliever while others do it for meditation, and to stay fit. Fulvio Grandin, a director and yoga teacher at Yogazone in Cape Town, says the benefits of yoga are endless.
Physical benefits are that it helps with fitness and cardiovascular health, helping the body with cleansing of organs, muscle tissue and joints.
Yoga also creates a healthy weight and balanced metabolic system while it helps the body with muscle stretching and toning.
Apart from relieving stress and improving fitness, other benefits of yoga include rejuvenating mindfulness, improving sleep, better sex, improved digestion and a happy demeanour.
Qutoe Anoushka Emson, a yoga instructor who is also based in Cape Town, said yoga helps with body detoxification, preventing ailments and improving mental strength.
Emson said this year yogis can expect the rise of Budokon yoga. The practice infuses traditional yoga postures and meditation with martial arts transitions.
This form of yoga is more athletic than others as it focuses on strength and agility, while building awareness and connection between mind and body.
Acro yoga is another form of yoga that is on the up-and-up. It employs acrobatics and gymnastic techniques to build strength, flexibility and trust between partners. In couples, each person plays a key role. The bases spend most of their time on the ground, usually with their back square to the ground in a static pose with their feet and hands being the main points of contact with a strong focus on core strength. The flyer is lifted off the ground by the base conducting either static or moving postures.
Grandin added that among the yoga community in Cape Town and SA , there is a marked increase in the variety of yoga that people want to experience and practice. Meditation, yoga Nidra and other mindfulness practices are definitely gaining a lot of interest and reflect the growing trend. The corporate and business sectors are also showing increased interest in meditation and mindfulness, which help alleviate stress, focus the mind and assist in leadership, decision-making and effective planning.
Emson said yoga retreats started gaining popularity in South Africa early last year, and it is easy to see why. Yogis headed to beautiful wine estates, beaches and mountains to revel in a weekend of relaxation and meditation combined with healthy food and spa treatments, marrying the traditional getaway with a passion for fitness and wellness.
Last year also saw an increase in men joining the practice. The addition of forms, like Waterman Yoga, were developed to focus on strengthening and stretching both the body and mind aimed at overall improvement of stability, strength, balance, flexibility, stamina, breath control and mental focus. All of which play crucial roles in making well-rounded watermen.
Grandin explained yoga therapy as a specific yoga modality focusing on relieving and repairing injuries and strains to the body, including muscular, connective tissue, skeletal. It is done through the careful preparation and instructions of a skilled yoga therapy teacher that uses certain asanas (yoga postures) and breathing or meditation techniques for specialised benefits. Basically specialised yoga for specific therapeutic benefits.
Challenging yourself is key.
Emson said that in any practice, it is important to challenge yourself. Choose a pose that you find challenging and master it. Whether it’s the one-legged inverted staff pose, the crow or birds of paradise, there is often that one pose you would like to improve in and master.
Start now and have no worries about being a beginner, adviseed Grandin. Yoga is about practice and consistency so practice yoga regularly.
Emson said it is important to listen to the cues that your body is giving you. Some days your body will be open to pushing itself and other days you may want to take it easier. There are so many options, with each pose open to multiple variations.
There are many different forms of yoga with differing levels, different methods. When starting, give all forms a chance and see which works best for your body and wellness goals.
Practice regularly and with good teachers. Grandin also suggested that you mix up classes between different modalities and yoga styles.
Attend meditation sessions and do yoga Nidra when available.
Attend yoga workshops and retreats to deepen your practice and your connection with yoga and with your favourite teachers.
Keep advancing yourself said Emson. Similarly to aspiring yogis, the advanced yogi can expand their practice by advancing your practise.
If you’ve mastered Vinyasa yoga practise, try Power Sculpt.
Alternatively, try incorporating foam-rolling - a class that focuses on self-massage to release muscle tightness and trigger points.