Yoga has been a hot health topic for quite some time now and it has been gathering more followers as people shift toward a healthier lifestyle.
You probably already know someone who is excited about taking a yoga class. Or you may be considering doing this yourself, but don’t know where to start.
We’re here to help make sense of it all. We are going to introduce you to the yoga classes available in Hamilton for different age groups and preferences. You’ll learn about the many types of yoga classes, and three main styles of yoga. In addition, we’ll explore the benefits of incorporating yoga into your life, and the special benefits of experiencing yoga in a group setting. Getting a little more technical, we’ll touch on the power of proper breathing (exercises you can try now are included!). Finally, we’ll delve into the deeper side of yoga. Specifically, we’ll explore the eight aspects of living a purposeful life.
Whichever type of yoga you’re interested in, you can look forward to a multitude of benefits for your body, mind and soul. Evolve Massage in Hamilton can help you find a yoga class that’s right for you.
Yoga Classes in Hamilton for all Ages
When it comes to yoga classes in Hamilton, we’re spoiled for choice. Here at Evolve Massage, we offer classes to suit every age group.
Yoga for Adults
Yoga is beneficial to adults of all ages. After all, it can help us balance the pressures of busy lives, support our bodies as they age, and maintain optimum health. At whatever age you choose to begin your journey, you will find yoga classes in Hamilton tailored to your needs. Later, we’ll explain all the types and styles of classes.
Yoga for Tweens
As children approach adolescence, developing the mind-body connection can help to support self-esteem and address anxieties of the type common during puberty. Yoga for Tweens is great for complete beginners as well as for those progressing from the kids’ class. It introduces students to asanas and pranayama (breathing) in an encouraging, fun and inspiring environment.
Yoga for Kids
Yoga classes for young children are free-form and fun. In these classes, the focus is on teaching the benefits of asanas (postures) and being present. For younger children who are learning to express themselves, yoga can provide a welcome relief from everyday frustrations. In addition, school-age children can perfect coping mechanisms and stress-management techniques that will support them throughout their lives. You can even sign up for prenatal yoga, mom and baby, and mom and toddler yoga classes!
Clearly, the entire family can enjoy yoga. It really is available to everyone regardless of age. Moreover, there are so many types of classes to choose from.
Types of Yoga Classes in Hamilton
Because we each tread a different path, our choice of yoga class reflects our personal journeys and lifestyle needs. At Evolve Massage, we offer yoga classes to suit every spirit, body and soul.
Hot vs. Non-Hot
Hot Yoga takes place in a heated studio. Many yogis choose this practice to enhance the detoxifying effects of yoga, boost calorie burn and increase muscle flexibility. However, you don’t need to commit to studying only one form; you can pair hot yoga with non-hot classes, which take place at ambient temperatures.
If you are looking to increase muscle strength, tone your body and improve fitness, then free-flowing, fast-paced Vinyasa classes are the perfect choice. At Evolve Massage in Hamilton, we offer a full selection of both hot and non-hot dynamic yoga practices, including Power Flow (hot), Core Flow (hot) and Yoga with Weights (reduced heat).
These powerful and energetic classes focus on enhancing the mind-body connection through continuous movement and are suitable for students at all levels. Power Flow links movements to breath and strengthens the whole body, while Core Flow focuses on postures to improve strength in the core and back. As a greater challenge, yoga with Weights adds additional resistance to free-flowing Vinyasa to help you strengthen and tone muscles.
Our relaxing Hatha and Yin yoga classes provide an escape from the stresses of modern life and feature something for everyone. Achieve peace, calm, and relaxation with Candlelight Yoga, Gentle Hatha Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga and other forms.
Candlelight Yoga is a hot class that delivers a welcome decompression at the end of the day. This class focuses on relaxing tired muscles, de-stressing and detoxifying your body. Because of this, it’s a great choice for students at all levels.
Gentle Hatha is a fantastic option for those with chronic injuries or joint pain. Conversely, Restorative Yoga encourages deeper relaxation through its practise of holding poses for an extended period.
For a revitalizing experience, why not join us for Yoga in the Park? It’s a great class for meeting fellow yogis in Hamilton green spaces and is open to students at all levels.
Where to Start
If you’re not sure where to begin, join us for Intro to Yoga and we’ll help you discover which yoga class is best suited to your physical, mental and spiritual needs. In the meantime, lets look a little more closely at the styles of yoga.
The 3 Main Styles of Yoga
So, we’ve touched on three styles of yoga, specifically Vinyasa, Hatha and Yin yoga. Now, lets look at the differences between them.
Vinyasa Yoga: Dynamic and Invigorating
Vinyasa yoga encompasses many different yoga practices. In this school, the focus is on pranayama, and students aim to synchronize movement with their breathing.
Each Vinyasa class is unique and may vary in its pace. Accordingly, some include spiritual practices such as chanting, while others are more fitness-oriented and focus on improving strength.
Compared to Hatha, Vinyasa places less emphasis on asanas. Instead, students move continuously from one posture to the next. The focus is on aligning breath with movement. This encourages relaxation and mindfulness, enhancing the mind-body connection to achieve balance.
Vinyasa yoga is great for those who are physically fit or enjoy a challenge. Because it can be demanding, it is advisable to join a beginners’ class at the start of any yoga journey so the student can perfect the postures before exploring fast-paced Vinyasa.
Hatha Yoga: Gentle and Relaxing
Hatha is an ancient school which, like, Vinyasa, encompasses many different yoga practices. Each is perfect for relaxation.
Traditionally used in preparation for other spiritual practices, including meditation, Hatha uses both asanas and pranayama to bring peace and enhance our understanding of the mind-body connection.
Many people use Hatha to complement their spiritual journey, unifying the body, mind, emotions and spirit to bring harmony to every aspect of their lives. This school focuses on asanas and the physical practice of yoga, as opposed to other techniques such as chanting.
Gentle and nurturing, our Hatha yoga classes are a great choice for those suffering from chronic injuries, stiff muscles and joint pain. In these classes, students use props to support themselves through each pose, allowing them to hold the poses for extended periods and achieve complete relaxation.
Yin Yoga: Passive and Restorative
Founded in 1970 by the Taoist Pauline Zink, Yin is the perfect complement to the active Yang yoga styles we practise in our other classes.
This school of yoga focuses on the yin tissues — the connective tissues such as the bones, ligaments and joints. The approach is passive and requires students to hold poses for an extended period. Doing this challenges the body by placing light stress on unworked muscles, improving flexibility and increasing blood circulation.
Like Hatha, this school is centred around asanas. It provides a deeper understanding of the body, and students are actively encouraged to relax and shift their minds from yang (active) to yin (passive) states.
Students do not need any previous yoga experience to join a relaxing Yin yoga class. However, the long periods of holding poses do mean that many find the practice challenging when they first embark on their yin journey.
Each school of yoga brings something different to your body and mind. In any event, you can try them all at yoga classes in Hamilton. At Evolve Massage we practise all three main schools of yoga. Whether you’re looking to energize, relax or heal, there are yoga classes in Hamilton for you.
The Benefits of Adding Yoga to your Life
What makes yoga different from other workouts? What can it do for you?
Available and Convenient
Unlike other physical activities that may require specialized equipment or locations, yoga is accessible and can be practised even in your own home. This is because you mainly use your own body weight to effect the poses. The basic requirements are a yoga mat (if you practise on a hard floor) and clothing that moves with your body.
Builds up Flexibility and Strength
Through its poses, yoga helps you use your body and pushes its limits gently, without shocking it. Over time, you will notice that your flexibility will increase and you will be capable of performing wider moves with ease. Many of the poses will use your own weight to build up strength and help you achieve a lean, more defined look. When practising yoga, you get to learn how to control your body — and that helps you feel stronger and more confident.
Improves the Condition of your Whole Body
Yoga has a subtle impact over your body. Over time, your joints may regenerate more quickly because they are being used to their full range; this can relieve chronic pain or stiffness. Your core will be stronger, which helps your posture and breathing — things you will notice right away in your daily life.
Teaches you How to Control your Breathing Better
One of the main things yoga focuses on is breathing. It’s surprising how much a correct breathing technique can improve your well-being. In fact, better breathing enhances any other sport you are practising and sharpens your mind-body connection. It truly can shift your mood and relieve stress and negativity. You can read more about the importance of breathing further on.
Helps you Relax and Unwind
If anything sets yoga apart from many other physical activities, is the way it nurtures and trains your mind as it strengthens your body. During the poses, you learn to concentrate on each movement and focus on your breathing. This process keeps you in the present and eliminates possible distractions. As such, it can be an invaluable method to apply outside the yoga studio. With practise, these techniques can improve your sleep, your productivity at work and even your personal relationships.
It’s easy to see why yoga can become a way of life for some people. It’s a practice that adapts to your life as it nurtures new and healthy habits into becoming your second nature. Although its effects are often subtle and achieved over time, it won’t take long until you fall in love with it.
Clearly, the benefits of yoga are amazing. Without doubt, having a private yoga practice will enrich your life. But for a few bonus benefits, try group yoga classes.
Experiencing Yoga Classes Together as a Group
Healing yoga enhances your health and well-being, not to mention progress along your chosen spiritual path. And the energy of a group adds a further dynamic, increasing the intensity and benefits of yoga classes for mind and body alike.
When you first begin practising yoga, you will find group classes offer a great support structure. Here, you can learn about asanas and pranayama under the guidance of a yoga teacher. You can amend poor posture, perfect your techniques, prevent injury and begin your journey within the safety of a group.
These classes are the best place to learn your limits. In class, an experienced yogi will teach you when you have more to give, and will not let you push further than your breath allows.
The act of going to a group session offers further benefits, especially at the start of your journey. Classes help you establish a habit of regular practice in those crucial early days. Moreover, yoga studios such as Evolve Massage in Hamilton are specially designed to reduce distraction and create a relaxing ambience. By making time to join yoga classes in Hamilton, you are committing to your journey. Best of all, you will be surrounded by other students on the same path. You can inspire each other to engage, focus and progress.
As we each continue on our spiritual journeys, the people around us play important roles. We can learn much from the experiences of others. At the same time, group yoga classes give us the opportunity to consider different viewpoints. Even though we each might be traveling separate paths, we have a common purpose.
The pursuit of this common goal means great friendships are often formed within group classes. We all need a community, and creating a supportive, loving social circle helps to bring balance to our lives. Accordingly, coming together to practise and cultivate a positive group energy enhances our progression along the spiritual path, introducing us to new ideas that support our growth.
As fabulous as our new mastery and friends are, these are not the only reasons we choose to experience yoga together.
Companionship helps to keep us focused. In classes, we concentrate on our bodies and their connection to our minds and become completely immersed in the practice. It is a state Steven Kotler refers to in his book, The Rise of Superman, as “flow,” although others have called it “mindfulness” or “being present.”
Whatever you name it, this concept is one of the greatest gifts of group yoga classes – a collective awareness that helps us evolve to a higher state.
The mastery of any form of yoga takes discipline, time and focus. Since it is not an easy process, surrounding yourself with a like-minded community at group yoga classes ensures you enjoy your journey every step of the way.
As you continue in your practice, you’ll find that one of the most rewarding things you can master in a yoga class is breathing.
Why is Breathing Important in Yoga?
For people new to yoga, the biggest challenge often seems to be holding the poses and achieving those wide-stance or body-folding stretches. Because of this, breathing exercises can be overlooked, so they usually deliver great surprise when they start working. Learning how to breathe in yoga is one of the essential skills to achieve. If you take the time, you’ll discover that it really takes this practice and your general well-being to another level.
What Makes Breathing So Important?
It may sound like the most fundamental part of being alive, but the practice of breathing properly has to be relearned by many of us. In our hectic, fast-paced lives, it’s easy to get in the habit of shallow breathing, or chest-breathing. However, shallow breathing can impact your emotions and lead to fatigue or even headaches. This is because shallow breaths don’t allow you to use your entire lung capacity and they weaken the diaphragm over time.
How to Breathe Correctly
Did you know that you once knew how to breathe properly? Babies naturally use a deep type of respiration called abdominal breathing. You can observe how their bellies go up and down when they inhale and exhale. This is exactly the type of breathing you will do well to relearn.
In fact, abdominal breathing is learned by actors, athletes, public speakers and other professionals because it improves physical performance, creates mental focus and calms them down.
Abdominal breathing comfortably fills your lungs to their full capacity, facilitating optimal delivery of oxygen to your brain and muscles. In addition, deep breathing connects you with your body, improves your posture and increases confidence.
Give yourself plenty of time to practise how to breathe in yoga. Eventually, you will do it naturally, without thinking about it. Soon, you will notice changes in your entire system, from your blood circulation and endurance to your ability to achieve a more relaxed mental state. That’s when you can really relax and enjoy yoga’s benefits to a deeper degree.
Beginner Yoga Breathing Exercises
Holding a yoga stretch, achieving posture balance and controlling your movements involve both strength and optimal oxygen flow through your body. To try it, start with these simple breathing exercises.
1. The “Glass of Water” Technique
If you are not sure how to control deep breathing, concentrate on three areas in your body: chest, middle abdomen and lower abdomen. Divide your breaths between these three areas and be aware of how they move when you breathe. When inhaling, think of a glass being filled with water. First, the bottom is filled, then the middle and finally the top. Accordingly, take a deep breath and expand your lower abdomen, then the middle part and finally the chest, in a constant, fluid way. Conversely, exhaling can be compared to pouring water out of the glass. First the top empties, then the middle and finally the lower portion.
2. Breathing Retention
Some yoga asanas will involve holding your breath. To do this most effectively, practise holding your breath in a rhythmic, calm way, without puffing your cheeks or feeling pressure. Take deep breaths and hold them in for a few seconds before exhaling. Begin with short intervals and gradually increase the breathing retention. Doing this will train your mind to keep calm and your body to use your oxygen resources optimally.
3. Alternate-Nostril Breath
Nadi Shodhana, or alternate-nostril breath, is a gentle breathing technique that helps when you are panicking or having an anxiety attack. Use it to slow your heart rate and calm your mind whenever you need to do so. To perform this technique, close your eyes and use your right hand to hold each nostril closed in an alternating pattern. To do this, first, hold your right nostril closed and breathe in through the left nostril. At the peak of the breath, press on both nostrils and hold your breath for a few moments. Then release your right nostril and breathe out slowly. Hold your breath again at the bottom. Repeat the cycle by changing the order of the nostrils.
Learning how to breathe in yoga can help you hold the poses, and it will also teach you how to better understand and nurture your body. Yoga dedicates much of its philosophy to breathing and the benefits it brings to your body, mind and spirit. Thanks to this, practising breathing will bring happy results in all aspects of your life.
In addition to breathing, there’s even more to be gained from yoga. Yoga classes in Hamilton can introduce you to a richer and more purposeful way of life.
The Deeper Benefits of Yoga: The Eight Limbs
Breath control and postures are important aspects of yoga, but the discipline goes far deeper. Its ultimate purpose is to create a strong bond between mind, body and spirit, resulting in a richer life.
Yoga Sutra was written at least 1,700 years ago by a sage named Patanjali. This guidebook of classical yoga serves to structure the practice into eight limbs, each covering an aspect of a purposeful life. Asanas and pranayama make up two of these eight limbs.
While no one expects you to approach yoga holistically from the start, it is beneficial to be aware of the eight limbs that form the complete path. Instructors may touch on some of these aspects in class and you can always choose to focus on them one at a time in your daily life. Let’s explore the eight limbs of yoga.
1. Yama: Universal Morality
Yamas deal with your moral conduct and values. There are five yamas that encompass a moral code in yoga: ahimsa is non-violence; satya is truthfulness; asteya is non-stealing; brahmacharya is right use of energy and aparigraha is non-attachment. Together, these guidelines help you to choose respectful and peaceful behaviours. As an ethical standard, they help you to develop a sense of integrity.
2. Niyama: Internal Observances
The second limb, niyama, teaches you to be closer to the divine through self-discipline and meaningful habits. Accordingly, personal observances give you a purpose in your own life and build up character. There are five niyamas in this limb: saucha is purity by living with clarity and single-pointedness; santosha is authentic contentment; tapas is purification through discipline; svadhyaya is the study of wisdom teachings and the self; and isvara pranidhana is finding your connection with the universe.
3. Asanas: Body Postures
The asanas form the most recognizable limb of yoga. Because of this, many modern practitioners focus on this limb as an immediate experience of yoga. Asanas are yoga poses, movements, bending and stretching that use your body strength and balance. Yoga postures help you heal the body and calm the mind. As they are learned and practised, asanas connect your body and mind, bringing you closer to a spiritual experience.
4. Pranayama: Breathing Exercises and Control of Prana
Pranayama is the formal practice of controlled breathing, connecting your respiratory process with your mind and emotions. The breath is the source of your prana, or vital life source. Learning more about pranayama can transform your stamina, posture, confidence level, state of mind and peacefulness. To get these benefits, you can practise pranayama by yourself in daily life or combine it with the asanas.
5. Pratyahara: Control of the Senses
The fifth limb of yoga is pratyahara. It focuses on withdrawal of the senses. By practising pratyahara more profoundly, you will learn how to focus your senses inward and isolate all external distractions. Now, withdrawal of the senses does not imply that you shut them down completely. Rather, this state releases you from knee-jerk reactions to external stimuli so they no longer cause disturbances in the mind or body.
6. Dharana: Concentration and Cultivating Inner Perceptual Awareness
This limb of yoga is the training of the mind to meditate. It could be said that dharana is the effect of pranayama and pratyahara achieving a balance and working together. Dharana is the active state of concentration that precedes the next limb, dhyana. In Dharana, you concentrate on an image, breath or mantra, and then repeatedly redirect the mind back to the subject. Once redirection is no longer needed, the next limb, meditation, has been achieved.
7. Dhyana: Meditation on the Divine
The seventh aspect of yoga is a state of meditation. Meditation interrupts the fluctuations of your daily mental activity, such as sensory knowledge, memory and imagination. When the mind becomes silent and its functions are regulated to work together as one, you can stop acknowledging meditation itself and just embrace it. Achieving this mental state requires intense practise and control over the other limbs. However, the benefit is that this deeper concentration of the mind enables you to separate illusion from reality.
8. Samadhi: Union with Your Divine Essence
Samadhi, the last of the eight limbs of yoga, is a state of consciousness that transcends the confines of ego. With samadhi, you are fully absorbed in the present moment in total awareness. Feelings of worry, judgment and fear no longer control you. You feel fully connected and in a state of bliss.
Now that you have a taste of the depth of yoga practice, you can continue your journey by digging more deeply into those limbs that might pique your curiosity through reading, online research and listening to your yoga class instructor. You decide to what extent you wish to take on this yogic way of life. But once you go beyond yoga postures and start working on your mind and spirit, you are being reborn into a different world perspective.
Yoga Classes in Hamilton: Try it Today
Yoga classes in Hamilton offer something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for an invigorating workout or a restorative experience, Evolve Massage can offer you all the benefits of this ancient art, plus the added advantage of practising in a class setting with like-minded students. If you’d like to go deeper, try out a breathing exercise alone or in a class, or explore one of the eight limbs of yoga.
Ready to experience the benefits of yoga for yourself? Join a yoga class in Hamilton today. We’re ready to welcome you.