The brain must be calm, and the body active. Yoga is the golden key which unlocks the door to peace, tranquility and joy.
Meaning to yoke or unite or to be whole, yoga is the practice of uniting all aspects of a person - mind, body and spirit, through physical postures (asana), breath and meditation! Flexibility, strength and muscle tone improve quickly as your mind and body work together in harmony.
The first written mention of Yoga appears in a collection of East Indian scriptures called the Vedas, which date back to about 1500BC. Archaeological finds in the Indus Valley, of intact ceramics depicting figures in Yogic poses, show that Yoga was practiced at least 5000 years ago.
In the Sanskrit (ancient East Indian language), Yoga postures are called asanas. An asana refers to a position assumed by the physical body, in a comfortable, steady and easy manner - these asanas bring about benefits to the body, the mind and the spirit. Read more about asanas here.
Hatha Yoga is the most popular form of Yoga today. It is the practice of the physical postures, poses, and exercises that work directly on the body and, in turn, on the mind. People are attracted to Hatha Yoga because its benefits are felt immediately. It relaxes the body, calms the mind, and brings greater awareness to your life.
"Prana" means "life force" and "ayama" means "to lengthen". Pranayama, therefore, is the art of lengthening the breath and, through the breath, enhancing the life force and energy within us. Breath gives us life, and is the link between the mind and body.
Mindful full breathing techniques practiced in Pranayama calm the nervous system, focusing and quieting the mind and cultivating a feeling of spaciousness and serenity in the body and mind.
Our everyday lives are increasingly becoming more and more fast paced. Everyday we accumulate stress, which is stored in our minds as anxiety and in our bodies as tension, pain and fatigue.
The time-honored discipline of Yoga works to unblock this tension and restore the body's state of equilibrium. The peace, tranquility and harmony felt while practicing Yoga is a welcome alternative for the stressed body and mind. It feels good!
A life, that incorporates a practice of Yoga, is a healthy, happy, whole life, as modern as it is ancient. The mind must be totally focused inwardly, to be able to send the right messages to guide your body to align itself into a posture or asana. As it focuses internally, the mind then lets go of external stresses and tensions.
The physical body releases knots and tensions as it is stretched and re-balanced.You feel relaxed and at peace, when you are not conflicted, when your mind is not being tugged in ten different directions, and when your body is freed of tension!
It is a common misconception that one has to be flexible in order to do Yoga. In fact it will be even more beneficial for you to do Yoga and flexibility training if you are tight! The beauty of Yoga is that is highly adaptable and no matter what shape you or your life are in, yoga will enhance your well being.
You do as much as your body allows, and in a short time and with regular practice you will find yourself becoming more supple. Yoga is not competitive, it is about discovering your own body and yourself.
The goal of many forms of exercise is to develop the outermost or superficial (external) muscles of the body and often neglects flexibility training. Yoga provides a comprehensive system of exercise that stretches, strengthens, tones and helps to align and improves the health of the entire body. Yoga also develops a state of mental calmness and emotional stability.
Thus Yoga is unique in that it focuses on the individual as a whole, itegrating the mind and body as one. Yoga is non-competitive, and allows each person to work within their own personal limits, maximizing their personal experience and growth.
Chakra, which means "wheel", are the energy centers of the body. Energy (or prana) is said to flow through the "nadis" (energy channels), that are connected by the 7 chakras (energy centers) of the body.
The chakras have a regulatory effect on the body and are associated with the endocrine system. With accumulated stress and tension being held in the body, some or all of the energy centers of the body often become blocked and "stagnent". It is the goal of Yoga to unleash these tensions and allow the body to feel relaxed and balanced!