What is yoga?

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. The main components of yoga are postures (a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility) and breathing. The practice originated in India about 5,000 years ago, and has been adapted in other countries in a variety of ways.

What are the health benefits of yoga?

Dozens of scientific trials of varying quality have been published on yoga. While there's scope for more rigorous studies on yoga's health benefits, most studies suggest that yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance. There's some evidence that regular yoga practice is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains, including lower back pain, depression and stress.

Don't I need to be flexible to do yoga?

Not necessarily. Yoga will improve your flexibility and help you go beyond your normal range of movement, so that you then feel more comfortable during normal daily activity.

Can I injure myself doing yoga?

The most common yoga injuries are caused by repetitive strain or overstretching. But yoga is the same as any other exercise discipline. It is perfectly safe if taught properly by people who understand it, and have experience. Learning from a qualified yoga teacher and choosing a class appropriate to your level will ensure that you remain injury-free.

What style of yoga should I do?

There are many different styles of yoga, such as Ashtanga, Iyengar and Sivananda. Some styles are more vigorous than others. Some may have a different area of emphasis, such as posture or breathing. No style is necessarily better or more authentic than any other.