Yoga is believed to have originated in India several thousand years ago, before any religious systems. The word Yoga is said to be Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a documented history of nearly 3,500 years. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, and the main philosophical language of Hinduism. Some Buddhist and Jainism texts are also in this language.
The word Yoga means to join, yoke, unite, referring to the unity of mind and body and also that of man and the universe.
Most people associate Yoga strictly with Hatha Yoga and the Asanas, but these are only components of Yoga. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a collection of 196 sutras or general truths/principles. Yoga is a very large subject and many people have written books on this subject alone.
THE POPULAR HATHA YOGA TYPES
Hatha Yoga is the term for physical Yoga practices, most popular in the West.
A slow style of Yoga that grows strength, flexibility and awareness.
Practising stillness or slow movements and mindfulness for therapeutic purposes and to center the mind and body. Props are used to assist the body in each pose.
Carried out in a heated room, normally in a class situation. The heat encourages detoxification by sweating out the toxins. Hot Yoga is said to increase the heart rate and ease arthritis and joint pain.
Flowing movements of the body, synchronized with breathing, producing a type of moving meditation sequence. There are no set sequences.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a style of yoga created by K. Pattabhi Jois in modern times. It is considered as an up to date form of classical yoga. Ashtanga means eight limbs or branches, of which asana/physical yoga posture is only one branch, breath/pranayama is another. All eight limbs are practiced in six set sequences and have various stages.
Is both spiritual and physical and is supposed to release the kundalini energy in your body that is trapped in the lower spine. This style works your body and breathing with fast paced postures and breathing exercises. The practice can also incorporate chants, mantra, and meditation.
A slower style of yoga with seated postures that are held for longer periods of time. Each posture can be held for up to two minutes. As this type is slower, meditation can also take place while practicing the postures.
Bikram Choudhury developed this type of yoga. Classes are held in a heated room. You will work through a series of 26 poses. Bikram always follows the same sequence, although a Bikram sequence is different from an ashtanga sequence. Bikram is very popular and is an easy class to find.
THE 8 LIMBS OF YOGA
At the heart of Patanjali Yoga Sutra is the eight-limbs that create the framework for the practice of yoga. No one element holds more importance than another . Each limb makes up a system which is said to bring a completeness to the practitioner as they find their connectivity themselves, nature and the universe.
Yama: Universal morality
Niyama : Personal observances
Asanas : Body postures
Pranayama : Breathing exercises
Pratyahara : Control of the senses
Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
Dhyana : Devotion and Meditation
Samadhi : Union with the Divine
THE BENEFITS OF YOGA
- Helps with mood and depression issues.
- Increases spinal flexibility.
- Improve chances of conception for females.
- Improves cardiovascular function.
- Eases the symptoms of asthma
- Helps ease the symptoms of arthritis
- Eases insomnia.
- Can increase flexibility, strength and posture.
- Promotes weight loss.
- Increased energy.
Yoga can be practiced by people of any age and can be completed in a class setting with a teacher, leader or guide or you can study the topic and become your own guide and maybe even adapt the principles to create your own system.
There is no doubt that people who have practiced Yoga, feel that they have derived great benefit from the practice.
Most of the hatha Yoga programs seem to be aimed at women, especially the class based Yoga sessions, but they can be practiced just as effectively by men.