Yoga, What Is It?

Everyone seems to be talking of yoga but what is yoga really? Yoga means union in Sanskrit which is a language spoken in native India where the practice of yoga originated from.

The main aim of yoga is to unite the mind, the body and the spirit. What the western world fondly refers to as yoga can be clearly described as asana in this same Sanskrit language.

Asana simply refers to the practicing of physical postures and poses. Out of the eight limbs of yoga, asana is just one of them. The majority of these limbs target heavily on the mental and spiritual side rather than the physical part. These two words, “asana” and “yoga” are normally used to substitute each other in the western world.

While yoga may seem like endless stretching to anyone, the reality is that this stretching is only aimed at bringing balance to the body by strengthening it and making it flexible. This is usually achieved through performing these postures and poses. Each of these poses and postures brings about its specific physical benefit.

When it comes to performing yoga, these poses can either be done in quick succession or a bit slowly so as to increase energy and make the alignment of the pose perfect. When the poses are done in quick succession, it generates heat in the body due to movement. While the poses may be constant, the approach may vary. This is largely because of the specific tradition in which the trainer was trained.

As your individual experience with yoga widens in due course, your teacher or trainer will often refer to it as your practice. Your practice is due to evolve and change with time which means that you can hardly get bored with yoga.

This does not however mean that the poses will change but rather it is your relationship with them that will change on a regular basis. To start practicing yoga, you do not have to be extraordinarily fit, strong or flexible, anyone can start yoga. As a matter of fact, it is yoga practice that will improve your fitness and flexibility.

While it is true that yoga will focus heavily on poses and postures, the practice will also offer breathing instructions, call and response chanting, inspirational reading by the teacher/coach and meditation. All these will however depend on the trainers and the kind of yoga training they were put through.

Generally, a yoga session at the gym will probably lean towards the physical benefits of yoga; on the other hand, a session at a yoga center may focus entirely on the spiritual area. There are people who confess to feel spiritually replenished after a physical session of yoga while others will only be aware of the physical benefits. The good thing about yoga is that it is very possible for anyone to find a yoga class that suits their preference.

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