What is Yoga and what can it do for you?
To me, Yoga is a well-being practice that helps to unite the mind and the body, it is also a spiritual practice which can create a sense of connection.
Ultimately Yoga is Union – union of the Mind, Body, Spirit, Union of mind, breath and body, union of higher self to lower self.
It is a mindful movement meditation practice. With practice it helps to build the body awareness, we can be quite disconnected from our bodies as we can spend a lot of time in our heads – thinking about this, planning for that, remembering when, etc, etc, etc…
Connecting the mind, body, and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to moment. Your body will most likely become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.
Yoga is not a religion. It is also not necessary to surrender your own religious beliefs in order to practice yoga.
Where did Yoga come from?
Yoga is a philosophy that began in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. The father of classical ashtanga yoga is said to be Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra. These scriptures provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental body.
Patanjali described the practice of yoga in a collection of 195 statements 2,000 years ago, this is like the philosophical guidebook for the practice of yoga, the collection is called the Yoga Sutras. One of my favourite is the 2nd sutra- Yogas citta vritti nirodha (language of Sanskrit)– Yoga is the stilling of the modifications of the mind.
The Yoga sutras outline the 8 limbs of Yoga:
Yamas – Restraints
Niyamas – Observance
Asanas – Postures
Pranayama – Breathing
Pratyahara – Withdrawal of senses
Dharana – Concentration
Dhyani – Meditation
Samadhi – Absorption.
What do we get from practicing Yoga?
Yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing, meditation and relaxation.
Physical benefits of yoga include:
• increased flexibility.
• increased muscle strength and tone.
• improved respiration, energy and vitality.
• maintaining a balanced metabolism.
• weight reduction.
• cardio and circulatory health.
• improved athletic performance.
• protection from injury.
There are different styles of Yoga – the style that I teach is Vinyasa – Moving with Breath.
‘What is Yoga’ …Many people think that they need to be flexible to begin yoga, but that’s a little bit like thinking that you need to be able to play tennis in order to take tennis lessons. Come as you are and you will find that yoga practice will help you become more flexible.