What is Yoga?

Women practicing yoga at health club. no face

Origins of Yoga

The Sanskrit word Yoga – can translate to mean to unite or harmonise.  Yoga means working towards a level where the activities of the mind and body function together harmoniously.

Yoga is a system that originated in India circa 5000 years ago and is a system of personal enquiry and experience.  Knowledge of nature and the human body and mind were the first discoveries.

The Yogis formulated practices to keep the mind and body healthy and is one of the few systems that encompasses the whole body.  Yoga is made up of regular exercise in the form of physical postures, proper breathing, sufficient rest and relaxation, meditation to cultivate mental focus and well-being, positive thinking and a healthy balanced diet.

The science of yoga is vast and there are many ways to practice Yoga and these include Hatha Yoga, Meditation, Study, Self-Enquiry, Love and Devotion, Self-less Action & Service and Mantra.

What is Yoga?

In the West the most widely form of Yoga taught is Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga Classes offer students postures and movements to stretch, strengthen and flex the body, breathing practices to promote relaxation and meditation to calm and focus the mind.

Many people are turning to yoga as an antidote to the hectic and fast moving lives we find ourselves living.  Yoga is suitable for all ages and levels of ability, yoga can be a very gentle form of exercise or it can be challenging depending on the practitioner.  The beauty of yoga is that is can work effectively on its own or combined to complement your existing fitness programme (gym, running, cycling, walking, sports or any activity).

Benefits of Yoga

There are many benefits for practicing yoga and each person will be able to tell you how yoga has helped them.  The following are some of the benefits found from a regular yoga practice: -

  • Improved Posture, Flexibility, Strength, Fitness, Concentration.
  • Increased body awareness
  • Better quality sleep
  • Enhanced feeling of well-being and happiness
  • Reduction in Anxiety and Depression
  • Stress relief and Prevention
  • “Me-Time”.
  • Able to cope better in daily life.

Yoga is not about tying yourself up in a knot!  There are some challenging yoga postures but these are not suitable for everyone, a suitably qualified Yoga Teacher will design the class with the students’ capabilities in mind offering alternatives as required.  In my experience the ideal postures, stretches, breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques are simple, relaxing and suited to the experience of the ordinary person providing “Yoga Tools” that can be taken away from the class to be practiced in daily life.