What is Yoga?

The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit (ancient Indo-Aryan language) word “yoke” or “union.”  It is the union of a person’s consciousness with the greater universal consciousness.

When people think of yoga, they often get the image of someone twisted into a pretzel.  That is only a very small part of yoga and one of many different styles.

Yoga is a holistic system of personal growth, which includes not just physical postures, but also a moral, loving and spiritual way of life.  It is a spiritual practice and not a religion, so it’s accessible to people from all faiths.  Yoga leads to a healthy body, quiets the mind and expands the spirit.  The goal of practicing yoga is to lead the student to self-knowledge of body, mind and spirit, and to maintain health and balance in all three.

Scholars estimate it is about 5,000 years old.  Over time, yogis achieved the balance of mind, body and spirit through exercise, breathing and meditation.  All three are part of the practice of yoga.

What are the benefits of Yoga?

Physical

  • Strengthens and tones muscles
  • Increases range of motion and flexibility
  • Stimulates and massages internal organs
  • Stimulates muscles, glands and nerves
  • Increased lubrication of joints, ligaments and tendons
  • Improves ability to balance
  • Improves respiration and lung capacity
  • Increases blood circulation
  • Promotes cardio health
  • Lowers blood pressure (except a few poses which raise it)
  • Aids digestion
  • Helps detoxify system
  • Pain prevention: increased flexibility and strength can help prevent causes of back pain
  • Increases metabolism and energy
  • Improves quality of sleep

Mental/emotional

  • Reduces stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression
  • Strengthens mental equanimity
  • Teaches you how to quiet your mind and focus your energy
  • Encourages self-acceptance
  • Encourages discipline

Spiritual

  • Helps you gain an inner awareness, of your body and feelings, as well as of the world around you
  • Brings balance and harmony to mind, body and spirit
  • Helps you connect your higher self with universe
  • Yoga is nondenominational and simply teaches universal values: patience, forgiveness, gentleness, love, etc.

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