There are many different forms of Yoga. The word Yoga means “to unite” or “to join”, some say that it can mean “connection” or “contact.” The most frequently talked about form of Yoga in western cultures is called Hatha Yoga. It concentrates on the health and purity of the body. Yoga originally was one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy, however through the years many other religious groups included this tradition in their belief systems.
Hatha Yoga has the Yoga Sutras with posture and then breathing component mixed together. James Raub calls it a “psychophysical Yoga”. You can see then that Yoga can attain this mind body connection through a disciplined method towards a specific goal. In many religious traditions, Yoga was used to connect into a spirit-filled life force. Today the goal of Yoga is often to alleviate health problems, decrease stress and create a form of exercise that restores us.
Yoga Postures Names
There are many postures in Yoga. The postures are called asanas, and they are a steady, held pose. Many are named after things in nature such as the cobra, crane, eagle, locust, scorpion, tree, dog, lotus, etc. Some are named after shapes, such as a half moon, bridge, and triangle.
These postures are all done to accomplish specific goals for the body and mind. The “corpse” for example is done to relax the whole body, release muscle tension, calm the nervous system and helps decrease the symptoms of heart problems. (The corpse posture is exactly how it sounds, you lay flat on your back, with your palms up, and eyes closed. Your feet our hip width apart and you push your shoulders away from your ears. You relax your facial muscles, your throat; you swallow a couple of times with your tongue behind your first row of teeth. You then relax your pelvis, abdomen, and diaphragm and expand your ribs. You then let your spine relax into the floor and you lay still and motionless. As you do this all you concentrate on is your breathing patterns. You breathe in through your nose to the count of four and then out through your nose to the count of floor. You will consciously let all thoughts drain out of your body.) And I am telling you after a hard day at work this posture is one of my favorites.
Breathing in Yoga is called prana. It has lots of meanings. Some are: breath, respiration, life, vitality, wind, energy and strength. The ability to control your breath leads to the ability to control your mind. The ability to control your breath also leads to the ability to refresh and rejuvenate all of the systems in your body. According to Hatha Yoga Pradipika, “When the breath wanders (i.e. irregular) the mind is also unsteady. But when the breath is calmed, the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore one should learn to control the breath.” The breathing is the connection to the mind with the postures you are in.
This connection then allows your body to access this same peace of mind anytime throughout the day whether you are having a stressful day at the office, driving in dangerous traffic or having a “discussion” with your teenagers or boss. Remember, the more you practice these techniques the better you get at them and then they will become automatic. Do not be afraid to use your breathing techniques anywhere you go. They will help you have the tools to control your daily response to many stressful life situations. And yes it is as easy as breathing.
Should I Do Yoga?
So, is Yoga for you? Well it depends on your goals? Do you need a way to exercise, reduce stress and have a feeling of overall well being? Then Yoga might just be the thing for you.
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