What is it?
And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself? – Rumi
Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. The practice originated in ancient India and evolved over time into a set of theories and practices with the main goal of helping individuals realise true happiness and freedom – what we often call ‘enlightenment’.
Hatha Yoga, which is the physical practice of yoga, has become increasingly popular in western countries. You may have come across many different styles of physical yoga and they can mostly be traced to Hatha Yoga.
Yoga combines physical postures, breathing techniques & meditation to improve your overall mental, physical & emotional health.
Typically a yoga class will have some or all of the following components:
- Physical postures – Asana, which are designed to tone, strengthen & align your body whilst improving your balance & flexibility.
- Breathing techniques – Pranayama – which will help increase your respiratory efficiency whilst relaxing your mind and body
- Meditation techniques – Dharana, Dhyana & Pratyahara – to help quiet, clarify and discipline your mind.
You will find that practising yoga on a regular basis will encourage mindfulness, which is concentrated awareness of your thoughts, actions and motivation. This allows you to improve your overall functionality & quality of life. In a mindful state you are completely in touch with and aware of the present moment and can take a non-evaluative and non-judgemental approach to your thoughts & inner experiences.
In summary, yoga will benefit your Health and Fitness and you will notice an improvement in your Quality of Life.
If you want to learn more about the origins and practice of yoga, the Yoga Journal is an excellent source.