When one mentions “yoga”, many images may be conjured up. Perhaps you get an image of flower children from the 60’s sitting in a circle with their legs in impossible positions chanting “Ohm” around a huge candle in a poorly lit room. Yoga is an ancient art that has been practiced for centuries. Over the years, it has risen in popularity as a way to stay fit, get in touch with one’s inner self, and keep a balance of sanity in a sometimes insane world. Yoga is the most diversified spiritual practice in the world. Crossing over many cultures (including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and the West), Yoga also extends over multiple languages such as Hindi, Tibetan, Bengali, Sanskrit, Tamil, Prakit, Marathi and Pali. The Yogic tradition continues to proliferate and spread its message of peace to this very day.
Many scholars believe that yoga dates back over 5,000 years to the beginning of human civilization. Scholars believe that yoga grew out of Stone Age Shamanism Initially, the sole purpose of practicing yoga was to experience spiritual enlightenment. In Sanskrit (the ancient language of India), yoga translates as “yoke” or “union,” describing the integration of mind and body to create a greater connection with one’s own pure, essential nature. Classes that have gained popularity in the United States usually teach one of the many types of hatha yoga, a physical discipline which focuses mainly on asanas (postures) and breath work in order to prepare the body for spiritual pursuits.
No longer is yoga a mysterious phenomenon. It is now simply a way to keep you healthy and aligned. Now relax and read on as we explore yoga and meditation.
WHAT IS YOGA?
As we have said, yoga is an ancient Indian philosophy that enhances personal growth and well being. Although it is a systemic philosophical approach, yoga is not a religion, but complementary with most spiritual paths. The physical aspect of Yoga (Hatha Yoga) use poses and focused breathing, requiring concentration and discipline. The result is a greater union of mind, body and spirit. Anyone, regardless or body type, age, experience, or physical abilities, can practice yoga.
Yoga is a tool for gaining body-mind awareness to enhance whatever spiritual/religious beliefs you have. A yoga session will leave you felling energized and relaxed. You will work your muscles and will properly align your bones; you will breathe deeply, oxygenating the lungs and blood; you will experience true deep relaxation.
By bringing awareness to the body, and working the muscles, you are able to more deeply relax them then from any other form of exercise. You will gain a deeper appreciation of your body and mind through yoga in a way that no other exercise program will.
Yoga increases flexibility as it offers positions that act upon the various joints of the body including those joints that aren’t always in the forefront of noticeability. These joints are rarely exercised, however, with yoga, they are!