Meaning and History of Yoga


Yoga comes out of an ancient oral tradition. More than 2000 years ago this tradition was collated into the classic work Yoga Sutra. This script has become the basics on yogic philosophy. The Sutra with 195 statements has become a kind of philosophical guidebook for dealing with the challenges of being human. Giving guidance on how to gain mastery over the mind and emotions and advice on spiritual growth, the script provides the framework upon which all yoga practiced today is based.


Sanskrit, the Indo-European language of India's ancient religious texts, gave birth to both the literature and the technique of yoga. The Sanskrit word yoga has several translations and can be interpreted in many ways. One definition is "to use actively and purposefully" and another is ”to join or concentrate”. Essentially, yoga has come to describe means of uniting or a method of discipline.


Sutra literally meaning "thread"  has also been translated as ”a vigorous statement of truth”. Another definition of sutra is "the condensation of the greatest amount of knowledge into the most concise description possible." With those definitions in the mind, we might think of yoga as a magnificent tapestry that is woven together by threads of universal truths. Truths focused on uniting and concentrating.


Initially the physical aspect of yoga was developed as a mean of meditation. This repertoire of yoga created physical strength and stamina that allowed the mind to remain calm. This activity focused yoga as a powerful method of self-transformation. It is the most practical of the yogas and have been recommended in some form for millennia as preparation for all the other yogas.


Today yoga has many styles, forms and intensities. But most people can benefit from any style of yoga — it's all about your personal preferences. The core components of most general yoga classes are poses and breathing. Yoga postures are  designed to increase strength and flexibility. They range from lying on the floor while completely relaxed to difficult postures that may have you stretching your physical limits.  Controlling your breathing is an important part of yoga and can help you control your body and quiet your mind.


Yoga Benefits







Many yoga students go into yoga to alleviate back pain, take away shoulder tensions or become more flexible. Some use yoga to relieve stress or other psychological challenges of everyday life. Others use it as the best form of general exercise ever devised. Strengthening of weak muscles and becoming more fit is yet another motive for yoga practioners.


Yoga is considered a mind-body type of complementary and alternative medicine practice. It brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping you relax, lower blood pressure, improve heart function and manage stress and anxiety.


Medicine journals and medical studies point out that yoga can have potential health benefits when it comes to stress reduction, improved fitness and management of chronic conditions. A number of studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. Practicing yoga can lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. This means you're less likely to injure yourself in physical challenges or in daily activities. Yoga can help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga might also help alleviate chronic conditions, such as depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.


Is yoga right for you? I mean that it is if you want to fight stress, get fit and stay healthy. And almost anyone can do it. My own mother in law used it for more than 30 years and practiced it regularly well into her 80s. I believe we practice yoga to feel whole, be part of something and stay healthy.



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