What’s Umbrella Yoga all about?
Most people practice yoga simply because it makes them feel good! It’s all about the integration of physical movements, mental composure, and breath control.
It is the interaction of these elements – mind, body, breath – that gives rise to the improved physical and mental wellbeing that so many yogis enjoy.
Can anyone practice yoga?
Yes! One of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century, Tirumalai
Krishnamacharya, famously said ‘if you can breathe, you can do yoga’. I wholeheartedly agree.
There are multiple styles of yoga, and many teachers integrate and adapt various styles to
create their own practice. There is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ – that’s why it’s called ‘practicing’
yoga – because we are always developing, evolving, changing. It is never perfect or complete. There is no judgement, no expectations, and certainly no ‘failure’.
So, the practice can be varied to meet any person’s needs – whether they have suffered
injuries or trauma, have physical or mental challenges, or are simply feeling down or
unmotivated on a particular day. The session can be adapted, developed – and used – to bring about positive change in the mind and body.
What does the science say?
Good question. At Umbrella Yoga, one of our key principals is to be driven by scientific
evidence and understanding. Whilst research that aims to understand the impacts of yoga
is relatively scarce, the results are certainly positive. Studies have indicated benefits for
people suffering from depression and anxiety, trauma, physical pain or injury, as well as
people living with genetic conditions such as Downs Syndrome and cerebral palsy, and
neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism. We encourage you to keep an eye on our
website for updates on research targeting each of these conditions.
But, one thing is clear. People who suffer from any kind of anxiety (which is very common in
the context of genetic and neurodevelopmental conditions), often struggle to activate the
parasympathetic nervous system – the body’s brake, or ‘rest and digest’ function. This
means they are in a constant state of hyper-arousal and rarely able to rest their bodies or
relax their minds. Breath regulation, a key part of yoga, is the most effective way to
modulate the parasympathetic nervous system (Khalsa et al., 2016). Most yoga practices
start with some form of breathing exercise (or ‘pranayama’), and throughout the practice
yogis have the chance to develop breath control by using physical movements and
concentration. As a result, stress and anxiety is reduced.
There are so many potential benefits, and these are likely to be experienced to varying
degrees, by different groups and individuals. Watch this space for updates on our
understanding of yoga from a clinical and research perspective.