Yoga makes the mind and body agile. This is just one of the many claims regarding the practice of Yoga. But, what is Yoga really? What can it do for you? What about the dozens of variations of Yoga? And, do you have to be really supple to be able to do it, or can anybody do it? These are questions Kevin is asking Luc Acke from Royal Yoga Antwerp.
26-07-2014 - by Kevin Van der Straeten
Yoga makes the mind and body agile. This is just one of the many claims regarding the practice of Yoga. But, what is Yoga really? What can it do for you? What about the dozens of variations of Yoga? And, do you have to be really supple to be able to do it, or can anybody do it? These are questions I'll be asking Luc Acke from Royal Yoga Antwerp.
Hi, Luc. Welcome to our studio.
We're going to talk about Yoga. But, what is Yoga?
More than anything I believe that Yoga is a philosophy for life. It's much more than a fitness program. We often use the term 'Yoga' for physical exercises. But it's much more than that. It's a philosophy that helps us to find a balance between body, mind, and spirit. And the physical exercises, or Asana, as they are called in Sanskrit, are just one aspect of this philosophy.
You mentioned Sanskrit, so Yoga is not from here? I suppose...
No. Yoga is a Sanskrit word. It's derived from the word "yuj", which means to unite, or union. It's roots lie in India, or in the Indus Valley. It's 5,000 years old.
And, what does Yoga do then with you?
Yoga works on all levels of life. It helps to calm the mind. It's a great tool for stress release. But it's also a way to
work the body in terms of flexibility, cardiovascular training, muscle training, and it helps to unite the body and the mind.
If you look at Yoga online, for example, you see there are a lot of different variance in Yoga: Ashtanga, Bikram, Vinyasa, and so on. How do I choose, which one is right for me?
There is a Yoga style for everyone. It depends on what you are looking for. It depends on what you're possibilities are. It depends how much time you want to invest. Hatha Yoga is usually the term that's used for a more traditional form of Yoga, which is very slow paced, which is more focused on meditation, but also on the body. Vinyasa Yoga is also focused on the body, but in a more dynamic manner. We link the breath and the movement. You will sweat a little more. And Ashtanga Yoga is on the other side of the spectrum. It's the most athletic form of Yoga, which is usually taught in fitness centers under the name of Power Yoga.
And, Bikram, because that's kind of popular these days.
Yes, it is. It has similarities with Ashtanga in the sense that it's a fixed series of movements, but it's taught in a very hot room.
So, it's even more sweaty.
So, it's even more sweaty. It depends on what your preference is, what you're looking for. If you like more stretch then you could take a Yin class. I would also practice more active forms of Yoga in the morning, and more slow forms of Yoga in the evening, because if you do a Bikram class, or an Ashtanga class in the evening, maybe you're so wide awake that you can't get to sleep. Or, you're so worn out that you will drop straight into bed, that's also possible.
If you look at those kind of exercises, do you really have to be that flexible to start with, with Yoga?
It's one of the common misunderstandings. You don't need to be flexible to practice Yoga. When you practice Yoga, you become more flexible. You become more flexible, not only in your body, but also in your mind. And, there is a form of Yoga that's suitable for any kind of person There is Yoga for children. There is Yoga for older people. There is Yoga for people with injuries. And it doesn't mean that if you have physical limitations, which I wouldn't call limitations. It's just the way your body is, and that you cannot practice Yoga. There is Yoga for everyone.
So you don't have to look at your neighbor, how far he can bend, to do the same.
No. The only thing that matters is what happens on your mat. It's a very individual journey. It's a very individual practice even though it's often taught in a group setting.
In one of the next episodes, we also, are going to try some poses. What kind of Yoga will we do there?
We will practice a simple Sun Salutation. You could call that Vinyasa Yoga, because we link one breath with one movement. But, also in Hatha Yoga, there are Sun Salutations, so it, kind of, depends on how you would define that. We will also practice a few Warrior poses. They are widely used in all kinds of Yoga. They are in Hatha Yoga. They are in Ashtanga Yoga. They are in Vinyasa Yoga. You can practice them really slowly, gently, or you can make a real workout out of them.
Luc, thank you for coming to our studio.
Thank you for inviting me.
And, you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next time.