When thinking of yoga, most of us probably picture poses and bends and perfect postures. We may picture someone meditating with peaceful music playing in the background. We don’t typically picture a person reading, or taking deep breaths during a hectic day of work.
What many of us don’t realize is that when we do everyday activities like these to help ourselves relax and get disconnected from the outside world, we’re actually practicing the art of yoga just as much as the person doing a backbend.
“People think that yoga is just physical postures and then there’s separate meditation and separate breathing,” says MYogis yoga teacher, Stanislava Benova. “You see yoga in the gym so you think yoga is this physical thing. Yoga is actually everything.”
Benova started taking yoga classes to increase her flexibility and strength, although she found the classes at first weren’t really challenging her.
“The teacher was just demonstrating and you were trying to copy what the teacher was doing,” Benova says. “It was not really yoga actually.”
Then, at a Christmas workshop in Belgium, Benova was introduced to a style of yoga known as Ashtanga yoga.
“It hurt a lot, it was more physical, and I started to be more interested in that,” Benova says. “I found out it’s completely different than the other styles of yoga. It was different because in Ashtanga yoga, you go more inside of yourself.”
Ashtanga is a structured system of yoga that is made up of several set series that a person can practice. Every posture and movement is connected with the breath while the person holds a point of concentration. These combined facets then create an internal heat, which is meant to purify the body, the mind, the bones and the intellect.
Aside from the many physical benefits of yoga, such as better cardiovascular and digestive systems, increased strength and flexibility, lower blood pressure and better bone strength just to name a few, yoga also has a multitude of mental benefits. This, above all else, is what sets it apart from other physical activities such as running or playing tennis.
“Yoga is a path or journey to your own soul, to be connected to yourself,” Benova says. “To be focused, to know what is important to you. To be present, because we’re not nowadays. We’re looking too much back or too much forward and we’re not being right now in the moment.”
Although Ashtanga is a more physical form of yoga, young age is not a prerequisite to be successful in the practice.
“It doesn’t require being young and flexible and strong,” Benova says. “Everybody can do it. There’s a proverb like, ‘If you can breathe, you can do yoga.’ Everybody can breathe, and everybody can do yoga.”
For more information about Stanislava Benova’s classes and Ashtanga yoga, visit www.myogis.com.
For information on the Ibiza Ashtanga yoga retreat, visit www.suryaretreats.com.