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You must have heard about many yoga studios that have recently opened just around the corner. Why is it that yoga is suddenly gaining popularity in the Wesern nations as well as the Eastern ones? Because it is not just a fitness exercise but rather a way of living that can transform our outer and inner selves and this is what makes it so special.

Yoga refers to one of the ancient philosophies and traditions that finds mention in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. As per the Western culture, yoga is portrayed as a group of physical exercises that can enhance the flexibility and fitness of the body. On the other hand, the Hindu traditions consider yoga as something that delves deeper into the body and mind and elevates it on a physical, mental and spiritual level.

What is Yoga?

We often question the concept of Yoga - what exactly is it - an ancient philosophy, a fitness regime or simply a way of living? It brings you closer to what you really are and makes you more aware of your existence on this earth.

The term “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj” that refers to “attach or join something.” It literally means a union and therefore, it is considered to be a practice that connects the human mind to the divine consciousness of the universe.

Yoga brings you closer to reality. It helps you manifest your ideas in an efficient and effective manner. By practicing yoga, you tend to focus on your inner self - the conscious mind - and concentrate on the various ways through which you can align your energies with the supreme power that rules over the universe.

For instance, many times in your life you come across situations that make you feel depressed and you could not find a solution to the problem at hand. With the help of yoga, you can pacify your mind and calm your senses in such a way that it connects you to the divine consciousness that will guide you into the right path.

In today’s world, yoga is related only to a few body postures that can help in enhancing your physical fitness. These body postures are referred to as “yoga asanas” that are practiced to make your body fit and flexible.

But yoga is not just limited to these postures. It is a practice of the mind, the body and the soul. It brings you closer to your goals and helps you understand who you really are. It enables you to rejuvenate your body, sharpen your mind and increase your spiritual energies. It is a medium through which you can look beyond the surface and delve into the depths of truth and reality.

The Origin of Yoga

Yoga is such an old practice that there is no certain date that can be defined as its origin. As per the Hindu tradition, Lord Shiva, one of the trinity Gods, was the first yogi who originated the concept of yoga. He was also known as the Adi Guru who practiced it long ago in Mount Kailash, that is said to be his abode and reached the state of enlightenment.

It is said that he gave the knowledge of yoga to his seven disciples who are also known as the “Saptrishis” to spread this knowledge to every corner of the world including Asia, South America, North Africa and the Middle East. But ultimately, the yoga vidya bloomed in India with the help of Rishi Agastya who gave our ancestors the profound knowledge of Yoga.

Such legends are embedded in the Hindu culture but there are no concrete facts that can prove the certainty of yoga’s origin. But there are several Vedic texts that mention the details about yogas and the various principles associated with it.

History of Yoga

Yoga is as old as life itself. The folk traditions, seals and symbols give us proper evidence about the practice of Yoga in the Indian subcontinent. If we go by the factual information, we can say that yoga came into picture during the Indus Valley Civilization. It is believed that it existed since the pre-vedic times but there is no certain evidence that can prove this theory.

The first text that was written on the concept of Yoga was the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The great saint Patanjali is said to be the one who gave us a detailed explanation of yogas, the postures and the meditative qualities of this practice.
Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutra around 2,000 years ago and gave to the world a treatise on the yogic philosophy that forms the basis of the modern-day yoga that we practice today. The book propagates the various theories of yoga that can help in controlling your emotions, making your mind work for you and thus help you reach a certain level of spirituality.

The Science behind Yoga

Yoga is not just an art but a science that holds the ability to better the functions of the body and mind. It has been scientifically proven that practicing yoga helps beat the stress and lightens your mood as well. And therefore, it is not just a system of beliefs but rather an applied science.

Yoga takes into account the principles of psychology and elevates the consciousness of the mind. It influences the brain, body and soul and brings them on the same plane where a mutual harmony is developed between them. Thus, it can be said that the energy that travels through your body after a yoga session is said to be beneficial for your nervous and immune system as well.

Types of Yoga

There are many different types of yoga that are practiced by millions of people around the world. The major types of asanas and styles of yoga are as follows

  • Hatha Yoga - This is the most common type of yoga that is quite popular in the Western culture. It is a combination of the breathing exercises and the yoga postures that focus on calming your mind and rejuvenating your body. This is usually considered to be yoga for beginners.
  • Ashtanga Yoga - Ashtanga Yoga is often referred to as the “eight limb path.” It includes a series of sequences and postures that are fast-paced and rigorous. It is a challenging form of yoga that can be practiced only by those who know what yoga is and would like to explore a new side of it.
  • Bikram Yoga - This yoga form consists of 26 postures and two breathing techniques that are performed twice in a room with a temperature of 105 degrees and humidity 40%. It is practiced to flush out the toxins of the body through the medium of sweat.
  • Kundalini Yoga - This type of yoga is practiced to release into the body the energy that is stored in the lower spine area of the body. The techniques that are used in this type of yoga are mantra chanting and meditation.

In addition to the above mentioned yoga forms, there are many different types of yoga that have a unique approach to this age-old practice. In the modern world, you can search for different types of yoga online and select the form of yoga that you find to be most suitable for you.

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga increases your body flexibility, strength and muscle tone. It improves your circulatory system and strengthens your heart as well.

  • A regular yoga practice can relieve stress by flushing out the toxins of your body and increase your body energy levels so that you feel rejuvenated.
  • The various yoga postures provide you a peaceful and relaxed state of mind that enhances your sleep patterns.
  • It helps in the sharpening of your mind and boosts up your nervous system in order to reduce anxiety and get rid of depression by improving your mood.
  • Yoga enhances your concentration levels and helps you develop deep meditation skills that can connect you to your higher self and helps you grow spiritually.

Therefore, it is extremely essential to make yoga a part of your daily life and practice it on a regular basis. There are many different ways to approach yoga specifically for kids, pregnant women, beginners and experienced practitioners. So what are you waiting for? Choose your type of yoga form and start practicing now!

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