Yoga is a mental, physical, and spiritual discipline that aims to transform the body and mind that over 20 million people in the United States practice today. It is a very old practice, dating back to pre-vedic India, and speculated to have developed around the sixth or fifth centuries, B.C.E. The earliest recording of practicing yoga is found in the Buddhist Nikayas. Yoga was also recorded in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali around the time of 400 C.E. The word yoga comes from the meaning of “yoking together” horses or oxen, being applied to the concept of yoking the mind and body together. The Sanskrit meaning of the word yoga is also meaning ‘to add, join, unite, or attach’. It can also take on the meaning of “combined” and other meanings such as addition, method, application, performance, and contact. Yoga can be derived from yujir yoga, meaning to yoke, or yuj amādhau, to concentrate.
The goal of yoga is to achieve moksha, or liberation. Yoga is said to have five basic meanings. These are to attain a goal using yoga as a disciplined method, controlling the body and mind, being a school or system of philosophy, yoga as connected to particular yoga techniques such as hatha or mantra, and yoga as yoga practice’s goal. Yoga is also viewed as a path to omniscience, the rising and expansion of consciousness, an analysis of perception as well as cognition, and as a technique for entering bodies, generating multiple bodies, and other supernatural goals.
Yoga was introduced to the west in the late nineteenth by yoga gurus from India and became popular in the eighties, primarily in the physical exercise form of Hatha yoga. Yoga describes energy flowing through energy channels, concentrating in chakras, human beings having three bodies, the physical, the subtle, and the causal, and also five sheets, food sheet, prana-breath, mind sheet, intellect, and bliss.
Schools of Yoga
There are many types of yoga, but the main types are Bikram, Hatha, Vinyasa, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Anusara, Restorative, Jivamukti, and prenatal. Bikram yoga is also known as “hot” yoga, Hatha yoga has gentle movements, Vinyasa is flow yoga, Kundalini does a lot of core work, Ashtanga is known as “power yoga”, Iyengar yoga uses many props and is focused on alignment, Anusara is heart opening yoga, Restorative is relaxation focused, Jiyamukti is a NYC yoga mixing vinyasa and chanting, and prenatal is good for expecting mothers.
The Benefits of Yoga
Yoga can improve the musculoskeletal system, mental health, increase the brain’s GABA levels, improve mood, decrease anxiety, reduce high blood pressure, enhance cardiac rehabilitation, lower chronic back pain, neck pain, and reduce symptoms of asthma. Yoga has also been helpful in regards to cancer patients, decreasing their levels of pain, fatigue, anxiety, mood disturbance, stress, depression, and insomnia while promoting spiritual growth. Yoga has also been shown to help people who are addicted to substances increase their quality of life via Kundalini Yoga lifestyle. It can also improve cognitive functions, flexibility, muscle strength and tone, the respiration, energy, vitality, maintain the metabolism, help people lose weight, promote cardiovascular and circulatory performance, and protect from injury.