Yoga is a holistic mind-body pursuit, concerned with working systematically on the body to create a state of well-being, both in body and mind. It originated in India, and there are now several different schools in the West, each with its own distinctive principles and disciplines. The most popular school is Hatha Yoga, and it is primarily based on the use of postures ('asanas') and breathing exercises ('pranayama'). People engage in Yoga primarily to improve their state of health, both physical and mental. The postures tone up the body, making it flexible, strong and resilient. At the same time, they reduce fatigue and can bring a feeling of lightness to the body. Finally, people find that Yoga has a beneficial effect on the mind, soothing the nerves, reducing anxiety and bringing a feeling of positivity.
Key Elements of Yoga
Yoga is concerned with the totality of the individual, and the following are five key elements, as taught at Sivanda Yoga Vedanta Centres, but common to many schools:
- Proper Exercise (Asanas)
A range of physical postures, designed to exercise every muscle, nerve and gland in the body. They have symbolic names such as Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana).
- Proper Breathing (Pranayama)
A series of slow and rhythmical breathing exercises, such as Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Sodhana Pranayama). These are used to produce a feeling of deep calm and leave the mind clear and still.
- Proper Relaxation (Savasana)
This is a relaxation method, referred to as the Dead Pose, in which the individual lies flat on their back, breathing regularly and with eyes shut.
- Proper Diet (Vegetarian)
Vegetarianism becomes an integral life-style choice for many Yoga practitioners.
- Positive Thinking & Meditation (Dhyana)
Later contemplative stages of Yoga, leading to a state of supreme bliss.
For further information about Yoga see:
- British Wheel of Yoga
SelfGrowth.com - Yoga Information
Yoga - Introduction
Yoga Unites Mind, Body and Spirit