Yoga, meaning ‘union’ or ‘oneness’, is an ancient Indian philosophy for living. The oldest scriptures containing yogic thoughts and practices are many thousands of years old.
The yoga tree is comprised of many branches including Mantra, Karma, Bhakti, Raja and Hatha to name but a few.
The different styles of yoga familiar in the West are all forms of Hatha yoga which dates back around 1000 years. Hatha yoga practices commonly consist of asanas (postures), cleansing practices, pranayama and meditation.
Whilst the various paths of yoga each offer their own commendable methods and disciplines, the ultimate goal of all yoga is the same – on a physical level we aim to alleviate the body of the stresses and strains of everyday life, thus freeing ourselves from illness and disease. In turn we may find unity between mind, body and spirit, awakening our ultimate potential and opening up the path of self awareness and discovery.
Benefits of yoga
The benefits of a regular yoga practice encompass all the bodily systems:
- flexibility is increased
- poor postural habits are corrected
- strength and stamina are increased
- energy levels are boosted
- sleep quality is improved
- body weight is regulated
- the immune system is reinforced
- the endocrine system is regulated
- the nervous system is balanced
- blood pressure is regulated
- cardiovascular efficiency is increased
- the gastrointestinal functions are regulated
Everybody – regardless of age, gender, fitness level or faith – can enjoy the benefits of yoga. All that is needed is the belief in one’s own transformation, whether that be on a physical, mental or spiritual plane.