What is Yoga?
If you posed this question to a hundred different people, you would probably hear nearly a hundred different answers. The term yoga comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “yoke” or “union.” This ancient practice can be traced back 5,000 years and is intended to unite the mind, body and spirit. On the physical level, yoga postures, called asanas, are designed to tone, strengthen and align the body. These postures are performed to make the spine supple and healthy and to promote blood flow to all the organs, glands and tissues, keeping all the bodily systems healthy. On the mental level, yoga uses breathing techinques (pranayama) and meditation (dyana) to quiet, clarify and discipline the mind.
The benefits of yoga range from the subtle to the profound.
* Build strength
* Improve your posture and flexibility
* Create longer, leaner muscles
* Speed up your metabolism
* Lose weight
* Enhance your balance
* Recover from injury and chronic pain
* Reduce stress
* Have more energy and passion
* Experience a new level of emotional calm and mental clarity
* Open yourself to the process of transformation
* Enjoy life more fully
Why It Works
The exercises of Yoga are designed to activate the central nervous system in specific ways and place pressure on the glandular system of the body, thereby increasing the efficiency and total health of these systems. The body is looked upon as the primary instrument that enables us to work and evolve in the world, and so a Yoga student treats their body with great care and respect regardless of size, shape, and age. Breathing techniques are based on the concept that breath is the source of life in the body. The Yoga student gently increases breath control to improve the health and function of both body and mind. These two systems of exercise and breathing then prepare the body and mind for meditation, and the student finds an easy approach to a quiet mind that allows silence and healing from everyday stress. Regular daily practice of all three parts of this structure of Yoga produce a clear, bright mind and a strong, capable body.
Cultivating a yoga practice is one way of living a life focused around health and peace of mind. In today’s Western culture, most people refer to Yoga and Asana (postures) synonomously, most commonly coming to their mats as a means to lessen stress and find relaxation, strength and flexibility.
Yoga is not a magic cure-all, but the way it challenges our bodies, moves our stuck emotional energy, clears our minds, and inspires us to seek and live in truth can be a catalyst for amazing growth. Yoga is ultimately a system of physical, mental, and spiritual awakening that integrates the whole person, on every level. It works every muscle, organ, joint, and system. It takes your body through it’s intended range of motion. It’s about developing a soulful perspective to the question that always comes up: “How did I get myself into this state I’m in, and how do I get myself out?” Yoga offers us the understanding of our condition and the road map to get ourselves into a more sculpted and awakened life – whether that be a stronger, more powerful or pain-free body, a heightened emotional intelligence, or a spiritually deeper experience of life.