Yoga: The Beginnings and the Basics
Thousands of years ago, a science involving many aspects of life began as a practice in India called yoga, which means “union” in Sanskrit. This union is the spirit, the mind, and the body working toward a common goal of happiness and good health. A common misconception is that yoga is a religion; it is not. Yoga is a non-denominational practice, and all people can relate to its teachings.
The yogis of ancient India used meditation as a tool to unite their spirits with that of the universe. This took many years of meditation, and the ending result was enlightenment. The poses practiced in modern day yoga were anciently developed to allow people to withstand various lengths of meditation.
Through years of practice, many forms of yoga have developed, though all types share the same common goal. In the Western world, Hatha yoga is the most commonly practiced. This type of yoga combines yoga postures, or asanas, and breathing techniques called pranayama. Meditation and relaxation techniques are also practiced in hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is beneficial to the health of those who practice it. Asanas improve the flexibility and strength of the body, while creating good posture. The joints of the body loosen and become more effective. Hatha yoga exercises also increase circulation. Pranayama calm the mind and nerves while boosting the body’s existing energy and all of the functions of the body are upgraded. Relaxation techniques allow people to rid their minds of stress to refresh the body. The benefits of yoga are ongoing, and include strength, relaxation, over all health, and a sense of well-being.
Yoga is not intended to be competitive or performed in a fast paced nature; each individual practice of yoga will work at different paces in order to achieve the best outcome possible. There should be no pain involved with any aspect of yoga, as flexibility and strength take time to achieve. It is best to begin yoga with instruction so you can do the postures safely, and learn to pay attention to the needs of your own body.