Yoga is an ancient physical and mental discipline founded before 5000 years in India. There are many different schools of yoga but the major ones are Rāja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga is the most popular type of yoga in the western world. Today, the practice of Hatha yoga focuses on different asanas, or postures, in the form of exercise. Most of us even think about yoga as about simple low-impact workout, including a lot of different postures and stretching exercises. However, yoga discipline embraces much more. It actually consists of eight different limbs or sub-disciplines, and just one of them deals with the physical, through the asanas. The other seven limbs of yoga are balancing other aspects of a human being, in order to unite body, mind and spirit of an individual.
Principle of yoga
The word yoga is derived from Sanskrit language where it denotes the union. The word is sometimes translated as joining, uniting, means and conjunction. The stretching exercises, characteristic for yoga, are typically done quickly in a flowing succession. The goal of the exercises is to increase the heat in the body, build up stamina and endurance, and work on the balance, which is very important to sustain positions that are more advanced. Besides the postures, yoga tunes the mind and the spirit through seven additional steps to unity. These steps, or limbs, include:
- Yama, the limb of moral codes;
- Niyama, self-purification and study
- Asana, postures
- Pranayama, breath control
- Pratyahara, sense control
- Dharana, intention and concentration
- Dhyana, meditation and devotion
- Samadhi, union with the divine
Benefits of yoga
The greatest benefit of yoga is that almost everybody can do it. However, pregnant women, persons with back injuries and other concerned for their own health, should first consult with their doctors before engaging into the yoga asanas. Even if one cannot perform the postures, there are seven other aspects of yoga to enjoy and greatly benefit from them. Asanas are good for flexibility and strength. These postures will help to release the lactic acid that builds up in the muscles causing stiffness, tension, pain, and fatigue. Most of the yogic postures are focused on core strength, since the abdominal muscles support many of the positions. Therefore, yogic exercise improves one’s posture, which is not only important for good looks but also for prevention of injuries. Deep and rich perspiration involves deepening and lengthening of the breath. This results in calm, nearly meditative state of mind and reduction of stress. Yoga also improves concentration and mood and if practiced for prolonged time, helps to recover from depression. This practice is also beneficial for heart; it optimizes the blood pressure and boosts the immune function. People suffering from insomnia, multiple sclerosis, asthma, back pain and arthritis, will surely benefit from yoga.