The word “yoga” has many meanings. It can mean “balance,” “unity,” or “joining.” Broadly speaking, yoga is a combination of mental and physical practices. Doing yoga is supposed to help people achieve true understanding. It is unclear when people first began to practice yoga, but the concept of yoga comes from the area of India and Pakistan and may be over 5,000 years old. There are many different branches of yoga. We’ll focus here on some basic principles they all share.
The most important part of yoga is breathing. Yoga starts with the correct breath. Breathing slowly and deeply through the nose is the beginning of yoga practice. Later, people practicing yoga may learn more difficult breathing exercises. Once your breathing is correct, you can move on to doing poses.
The poses, or asanas, are designed to create strength and flexibility in the body. This relates back to the idea of balance. As you become more used to yoga, you can do more challenging poses. Many people do yoga simply for the exercise. Yoga does indeed help people become fit and healthy. But the idea is never to compete, only to do your best and improve at your own rate.
The difficult poses also help people learn grace under pressure. This means that though the body is struggling, the mind is calm. During a yoga practice, your mind is supposed to be clear and empty. You think about nothing but the pose. In this way, yoga helps relieve mental stress.
The ancient tradition of yoga has spread to every continent and has been adapted to many different cultures. If you walk through your town, you’ll probably be able to spot a yoga studio. Care to try it?