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The classical techniques of Yoga date back more than 5,000 years. In ancient times, the desire for greater personal freedom, health and long life, and heightened self-understanding gave birth to this system of physical and mental exercise which has since spread throughout the world. The word Yoga means "to join or yoke together," and it brings the body and mind together into one harmonious experience.
The whole system of Yoga is built on three main structures: exercise,
breathing, and meditation. The exercises of Yoga are designed to put
pressure on the glandular systems of the body, thereby increasing its
efficiency and total health. The body is looked upon as the primary
instrument that enables us to work and evolve in the world, and so a
Yoga student treats it with great care and respect. Breathing techniques
are based on the concept that breath is the source of life in the body.
The Yoga student gently increases breath control to improve the health
and function of both body and mind. These two systems of exercise and
breathing then prepare the body and mind for meditation, and the student
finds an easy approach to a quiet mind that allows silence and healing
from everyday stress. Regular daily practice of all three parts of this
structure of Yoga produce a clear, bright mind and a strong, capable
Yoga is amazing-even if you only practice for one hour a week, you will experience the benefits of the practice. If you can do more than that, you will certainly experience more benefits. I suggest starting with two or three times a week, for an hour or an hour and a half each time. If you can only do 20 minutes per session, that's fine too. Don't let time constraints or unrealistic goals be an obstacle-do what you can and don't worry about it. You will likely find that after awhile your desire to practice expands naturally and you will find yourself doing more and more.
Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just physical
postures. Patanjali's eight-fold path illustrates how the physical
practice is just one aspect of yoga. Even within the physical practice,
yoga is unique because we connect the movement of the body and the
fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breath. Connecting the
mind, body, and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. Through
this process of inward attention, we learn to recognize our habitual
thought patterns without labeling them, judging them, or trying to
change them. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to
moment. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice,
rather than a task or a goal to be completed. Your body will most likely
become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.
Yoga is not a religion. It is a philosophy that began in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. The father of classical ashtanga yoga (the eight-limbed path, not to be confused with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois' 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. Yoga sometimes interweaves other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice or study yoga. It is also not necessary to surrender your own religious beliefs to practice yoga.
Yoga is suitable for most teens and adults of any age or physical
condition. Because of the possible modifications of every class, even
those with physical limitations can find a beneficial routine of Yoga.
Yes! You are a perfect candidate for 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.
This newfound agility will be balanced by strength, coordination, and enhanced cardiovascular health, as well as a sense of physical confidence and overall well-being.
All you really need to begin practicing yoga is your body, your mind,
and a bit of curiosity. But it is also helpful to have a pair of sweat
pants, leggings, or shorts, and a t-shirt that's not too baggy. No
special footgear is required because you will be barefoot.
In yoga practice we twist from side to side, turn upside down, and bend forward and backward. If you have not fully digested your last meal, it will make itself known to you in ways that are not comfortable. If you are a person with a fast-acting digestive system and are afraid you might get hungry or feel weak during yoga class, experiment with a light snack such as yogurt, a few nuts, or juice about 30 minutes to an hour before class.
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