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What is Yoga – the types and benefits of practising Yoga

What is Yoga?

Yoga is believed originated in India during the Golden Age, nearly 26,000 years ago.
In Sanskrit, it can be translated as: “to control”, “to yoke” or “to unite”, chiefly, union between the self and the spirit.
It is both a mental and physical practice.
Modern yoga practice often incorporates some or all of the following elements within the 8 limbs of yoga:
  1. Asana, or physical postures – the physical ‘poses’ practiced
  2. Pranayama, or breathing techniques/exercises – various breathing methods used to expand or regulate breath
  3. Darana, or the practice of meditating – turning inwards away from outer senses

This article provides a more detailed explanation of all the 8 elements.

Benefits of Yoga

With continued practice over time, Yoga provides both physical and mental benefits, some of which include:

  • Physical: Improvements in balance, flexibility, stamina and strength.
  • Mental: Better body awareness, sleep, relaxation, reduced stress 

Types of Yoga

Below I’ve summarized the most commonly practised forms of yoga:

Other types of yoga include:

Kundalini yoga (yoga focused on awakening primal energy), Restorative yoga (yoga with restorative poses), Acroyoga (yoga with acrobatics), Rainbow/Kids yoga (yoga that incorporates song, dance & play for kids), Rope yoga (yoga that uses wall rope to assist one to get into poses), Aerial/Anti-gravity yoga (yoga in a hammock)

Starting Yoga

If you are new to yoga, it is recommended to join a beginner’s class, or a class with a small group setting. This is so that:

  • You have time to learn & familiarize yourself with basic poses 
  • The teacher can give more attention & adjust you 

Attending Yoga classes

When attending a new class:

  • Dress in comfortable attire (sports attire, or clothes that allow you to move and stretch)
  • If possible, try to arrive at least 10-15 mins early so you can get comfortable in the studio
  • If you feel unwell e.g. dizzy during the class, get out of the posture slowly. If necessary, take a seat on your mat. If you need help, you can raise your arm so your instructor can see you need help.
  • Don’t feel intimidated by others in the class – some students are already flexible or strong (e.g. dancers, gymnasts), or have been practising for a long time. Go to your edge, focus on your own practice, what’s good for YOUR body.

After the class:

  • If possible, it is ideal to spend at least 5-10 mins in your final posture (this is likely savasana, or ‘dead man’s pose’). This will allow your body to restore itself so you can reap the full benefits of your practice
  • You can turn to one side, and slowly use your hand to push yourself up into seated position. Take a few breaths to compose yourself, before slowly standing up.

I hope this article has helped you! If you have any questions or comments, email me

Happy practising 🙂


I'm Wenlin, a 500hrs Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance USA & Yoga Therapist based in Turin, Italy. I have taught for corporates, resorts and festivals across Asia and Europe, and specialise in Aqua Yoga for Arthritis, Yoga Therapy for Back Pain and Qigong Fusion Flow, a flow I created that blends Qigong with Vinyasa Yoga.

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