This month GIRL discusses a different type of sport - the practice of YOGA.
Q. What sport counts stars such as Jennifer Anniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Stiles and Madonna as loyal fans?
A. YOGA of course!
Yoga is a centuries old tradition of stretching and breathing exercises designed to strengthen, tone and build muscle, promote strength, correct posture, increase circulation and flexibility and calm and rejuvenate the spirit.
Dating back to ancient India in 3000 B.C., yoga is not a traditional sport by any means. However, when executed correctly, yoga is a most challenging and effective workout. There are many different forms of yoga, however Hatha yoga is one of the more commonly practised forms.
Granted, some of the positions do look a little bizarre, but yoga involves almost every muscle in the body and challenges the body to work in a different and often more passive way. As limbs function as free weights, moving the body's centre of gravity creates resistance. This strengthening gives way to endurance as poses are held for longer periods of time.
Unlike conventional forms of exercise, such as weight training, running or swimming, Hatha yoga stresses quality of movement over quantity. A consistent Hatha yoga practice can quiet the mind and refresh the body, bringing health, relaxation, and happiness.
Although instruction videos are available to buy, it is better to have several lessons with a qualified instructor to ensure your posture, positions and breathing are correct, thereby minimising the risk of damaging your spine or muscles and ensuring you get the most from your workout.
It is recommended to wear loose, comfortable clothing that provides ease of movement, and long pants are preferable as some positions may require raised legs. You will also need to take either a towel or yoga matt (a camping matt will suffice, for around $8.00 from K-Mart or camping suppliers) to protect your back and knees from the hard floor.
Classes are usually an hour long and are generally held in local recreation centres for around $10.00 per lesson. Refer to your local recreation guide for timetables, or alternatively, refer to the Yoga in Australia web site for contact details of yoga centres in your area: http://home.pacific.net.au/~sbond/ozyoga.html