All you need to know about Yoga

Yoga

All you need to know about Yoga

is a group of physical, mental, and or disciplines which originated in . is one of the six astika schools of philosophical traditions. There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals in , , and Jainism.

The term “Yoga” in the Western world often denotes a modern form of and yoga as exercise, consisting largely of the postures or .

Origin of Yoga

The word Yoga is derived from the word ‘Yuj’ which essentially means to join or unite. The union referred to is that of the individual self uniting with Cosmic or the . Yoga is a means of achieving this goal.

The term Yoga was born in India, almost 26,000 years ago. Yoga is believed to have evolved during the period of the ‘Sat ’, also called the Golden age. This period became known as a of everlasting and abundant blessings, filled with seekers of the Eternal Truth.

That is why, probably, even today we associate yoga with sages and hermits. It was not until the discovery of the - valley civilization which is the largest civilization that about the origin of Yoga surfaced. Excavations give evidence of yoga’s existence during this period; -like figures engraved on soapstone seals have been unearthed.

In fact, it was the Aryans, migrating from the northwest, who was instrumental in discovering yoga.

History of Yoga

Yoga’s has many places of obscurity and uncertainty due to its oral transmission of texts and the secretive nature of its . The early writings on yoga were transcribed on fragile palm leaves that were easily damaged, destroyed, or lost. The development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, but some researchers think that yoga may be up to 10,000 years old old.

Yoga’s long rich history can be divided into four main periods of innovation, practice, and development such as:

Pre-Classical Yoga

The beginnings of Yoga were developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda. The Vedas were a collection of texts containing songs, , and to be used by , the Vedic priests.

Yoga was slowly refined and developed by the Brahmans and Rishis who documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads, a huge containing over 200 . The most renowned of the Yogic scriptures is the Bhagavad-Gita, composed around 500 B.C.E.

The Upanishads took the idea of sacrifice from the Vedas and internalized it, teaching the sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, action (), and ().

Classical Yoga

In the pre-classical stage, yoga was a mishmash of various ideas, beliefs, and that often conflicted and contradicted each other. The Classical period is defined by ’s Yoga-, the first systematic presentation of yoga. Written sometime in the second century, this text describes the path of , often called “classical yoga”.

Patanjali organized the practice of yoga into an “eight limbed path” containing the steps and stages towards obtaining or . Patanjali is often considered the father of yoga and his Yoga-Sutras still strongly influence most styles of .

Post-Classical Yoga

A few centuries after Patanjali, created a system of practices designed to rejuvenate the and prolong life. They rejected the teachings of the ancient Vedas and embraced the physical body as the means to achieve enlightenment. They developed Yoga with radical techniques to cleanse the body and to break the knots that bind us to our physical existence.

This exploration of these physical-spiritual connections and body-centered practices led to the creation of what we primarily think of yoga in the West: Hatha Yoga.

Modern Period

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, yoga began to travel to the West, attracting attention and followers. This began at the 1893 Parliament of in Chicago when Swami Vivekananda wowed the attendees with his lectures on yoga and the universality of the world’s religions. In the 1920s and 30s, Hatha Yoga was strongly promoted in India with the work of T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, and other yogis practicing Hatha Yoga.

Krishnamacharya opened the first Hatha Yoga school in Mysore in 1924 and in 1936 Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society on the banks of the holy River. Krishnamacharya produced three students that would continue his legacy and increase the popularity of Hatha Yoga: B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar, and Pattabhi Jois. Sivananda was a prolific author, writing over 200 books on yoga, and established nine and numerous yoga centers located around the world.

Benefits of Yoga

There are two types of benefits of yoga such as:

Physical Benefit

“The techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches, and carpal tunnel syndrome,” explains Dr. Nevins. “Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.”

Other physical benefits of yoga include:

  • increased flexibility
  • increased muscle strength and tone
  • improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • maintaining a balanced metabolism
  • cardio and circulatory
  • improved athletic performance
  • protection from injury

Mental Benefits

from the physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which is known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. “Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate,” says Dr. Nevins. “Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.”

Yoga’s incorporation of and breathing can help improve a person’s mental well-being. “Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention, and sharpens ,” says Dr. Nevins. Body- and self-awareness are particularly beneficial, she adds, “because they can help with early detection of physical problems and allow for early preventive action.”

Types of Yoga

There are so many different types of yoga out there, whether you want a more physically demanding class or an easy, relaxing, meditative class.

Here are the 11 major types of yoga.

1. Vinyasa yoga

 

Vinyasa means to place in a special way. Vinyasa yoga is often considered as the most athletic yoga style. Many types of yoga can also be considered vinyasa flows such as ashtanga, power yoga, and .

Vinyasa was adapted from Ashtanga yoga in the 1980s.

2. Hatha yoga

The Sanskrit term “Hatha” is known as an umbrella term for all physical postures of yoga. In the West, hatha yoga simply refers to all the other styles of yoga that are grounded in physical practice. However, there are other branches of yoga such as , raja, and yoga are separate from the physical-based yoga practice.

Physical-based yoga is known as the most popular and has numerous styles.

3. Iyengar yoga

Iyengar yoga was founded by B.K.S. Iyengar.  Iyengar yoga focused on as well as detailed and precise movements. In an Iyengar class, students perform a variety of postures while controlling the breath.

4. Kundalini yoga

 

practice is equal parts both spiritual and physical. This yoga style is all about releasing the kundalini energy in your body said to be trapped, or coiled, in the lower spine

5. Ashtanga yoga

In Sanskrit, Ashtanga is translated as an Eight Limb path. In Mysore, Indian people gather to practice this form of yoga together at their own pace. Vinyasa yoga stems from ashtanga as the flowing style linking breath to movement.

6. Bikram yoga

Bikram yoga is named after Bikram Choudhury and features a sequence of set poses in a sauna-like room typically set to 105 degrees and 40% humidity. Bikram Choudhury faced sexual assault and harassment lawsuits in the U.S. and fled to Mexico in 2017. Many studios that were formerly Bikram now practice hot yoga, in an effort to disassociate with the founded.

7. Yin yoga

is a slow-paced style of yoga. Yin yoga is performed by seated postures that are held for longer periods of time. Yin can also be a meditative yoga practice that helps you find .

8. Restorative yoga

Restorative yoga focuses on winding down after a long day and relaxing your mind. At its core, this style focuses on body relaxation. Restorative yoga also helps to cleanse and free your mind.

9. Prenatal yoga

Prenatal yoga is carefully adapted for “moms to be” and is tailored to women in all trimesters. Many have said that prenatal is known as one of the best types of exercise for expectant moms because of the pelvic floor work, focus on breathing, and bonding with the growing baby.  Prenatal yoga also helps mothers prepare for labor and delivery.

10. Anusara yoga

Anusara is a modern-day version of hatha yoga. Anusara is most similar to vinyasa in that it focuses on alignment.  It was founded by John Friend who created a unique system called the Universal Principals of Alignment.

He resigned in 2012 after accusations of sexual misconduct and financial mismanagement. A friend has since partnered with Desi and Micah Springer to teach the Bowspring method.

11. Jivamukti yoga

Jivamukti was founded in 1984 by Sharon Ganon and David Life. Jivamukti is mainly vinyasa-flow-style classes infused with Hindu spiritual teachings. At its core, this style emphasizes the connection to as a living being, so most Jivamukti devotees follow their vegetarian .

Yoga and Religion

Yoga becomes a spiritual experience leading to confusion about how its practice impacts one’s beliefs. Fortunately, the vast majority of people who explore yoga actually discover that it strengthens and deepens their own faith.

Dr. Mary Pullig Schatz explains,

“Because yoga has its roots in the Hindu of India, there is a popular misconception that yoga is a religion. Just as the practice of the Japanese martial of karate and aikido does not require becoming a , the practice of yoga does not require you to adopt Hinduism. Rather yoga is nonsectarian, promoting health and harmonious living.”

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