Yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, the classical language of India. Yoga is an integrated system of education for the mind, body, and spirit; essentially it is a way of life. Developed in India over 5,000 years ago, yoga has evolved over the centuries and divided into 4 different paths: Karma, Jnana, Bhakti, and Raja.
Raja yoga is the path commonly practiced by most individuals. This form is based on a practical system of concentration and control of the mind, which is attained through good conduct, steady posture, breath regulation, and withdrawal of the senses. Hatha yoga is a form of Raja yoga, which emphasizes Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breath control).
Yoga emphasizes self-discipline through simple living and high thinking. The yogic path believes that in order for the body to function smoothly, one must perform the following:
- ASANAS = pose; steady posture
- PRANAYAMA = yogic breathing
- POSITIVETHINKING & MEDITATION
- VEGETARIAN DIET
Asanas are gentle poses, which lubricate joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the body. They also help tone the nervous system, increase circulation, release tension and improve flexibility.
Pranayamic Breathing is a deep breathing technique to cleanse and nourish the body. Inhalation supplies an abundance of oxygen to each cell in the body and exhalation expels the impurities. Pranayama taps into the solar plexus and releases Vital Energy (PRANA) for physical and mental rejuvenation. Pranayama cleanses and strengthens the channels in the body called NADIS and CHAKRAS, which are astral bodies where the Nadis cross.
Relaxation Techniques can be applied to the physical, mental, and spiritual being of the individual practicing yoga. Physical relaxation can be attained through the asanas, mental relaxation through pranayama; and spiritual throug meditation and positive thinking. Meditation can balance the mind, help one focus and concentrate on any task at hand, as well as achieve oneness.
This helps to eliminate negative emotions such as anger, hatred, and jealousy at their roots. Physical therapists can utilize yoga in their treatments to improve their patients:
Muscle tone, flexibility, strength & endurance
- Improve circulation
- Stimulate the immune system
- Reduce stress and tension
- Create a sense of well being
Research has shown yoga has helped manage and often control anxiety, arthritis, asthma, back pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches, heart disease, depression, stress, and various other conditions. Yoga can be practiced for both its spiritual path and psycho-physiological benefits. Whatever your reason to choose to engage in yoga, you will discover its many rewards.