Yoga originated 5000 years ago in India. Back then it was mainly a mental practice and dedicated to renouncing all your belongings and meditating in the mountains, yogis were taught to meditate to attain spiritual enlightenment and it focused less on the physical side.
Yoga today in the West focuses on mainly the physical practice of yoga - asana.
Meditation is on the rise now in the West. It has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration and a great aid to attain a good nights sleep and that in with the physical benefits of the asana practice and it can transform your life to become a healthier happier version of you.
So how can you get the most from your asana yoga practice?
1. Find a good teacher
There are lots of awesome teachers out there that can balance on one hand but you need to find an accredited teacher who is Yoga Alliance or Yoga Wheel registered to ensure you will be safely guided through your practice.
2.Find your style
There are many different styles - the most popular in the West being- Vinyasa, Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyenga, Power, Yin. Try out all the styles to find the one that suits you best. If you prefer a vigorous cardio practice then a Yin class will not be suited to you!
Don't be afraid to ask questions to your teacher if you feel not getting the most out of your class or if the pose doesn't feel right. A good teacher will be able to tell you the full correct cues to perform each pose correctly and safely and if you have any injuries you should let your teacher know so that they can modify and ensure that the poses will be beneficial to you.
4.Know your limitations.
Just because other people are touching there toes in a forwards fold doesn't mean that you have to too. Remember it is your own person practice when you step onto a mat, don't push through any sharp pain , find your edge. Through practice your flexibility will increase but some peoples body are just not designed to get into certain positions. Less flexible students should make use of block and straps to come into poses safely and correctly.