Yoga is growing in popularity in the west as practitioners and yoga students are finding this age old practice does wonders for reducing stress and toning the body.
You may greatly enjoy what author, Rajgopal has to share from the perspective of a native from India.
History of Yoga
Yoga, the ancient Indian form of health and well-being, is defined as a sense of balance. In actual terms, yoga works on four planes: physical, physiological, psychological, and spiritual.
When you practice yoga, you not only understand the lessons of the past, you will also be able to fully understand the present, and experience the future.
The central part of yoga is aimed at transcending the ego. In so doing, the practitioner is able to become a part of the pure self or bliss. In other words, yoga teaches guidelines and values. It also takes us into practices that purify our mind, body and spirit.
An ancient Hindu practice, without religious undertones, yoga began as a spiritual path to purification.
Although yoga is over 2,500 years old, it’s only recently that the practice has become the mainstay of healthy living in the West. As a matter of fact, there are today more yoga teachers in the 50 states in the US than the whole of India!
All this has happened because of the benefits yoga offers in the presence of scientific investigation and clinical validation.
A study published in, The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that a simple yoga program significantly reduced pain and increased the hand strength of patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. This is a common problem. It is caused by the compression of the median nerve in the wrist — usually as a result of repetitive movement. Example: prolonged computer keyboard use.
Scientific studies have also testified that yoga breathing can vastly improve scores on tests of spatial memory, including right-brain function.
It is also commonplace knowledge that yoga has been found to be very effective and safe in stress reduction. No small wonder, why yoga is being increasingly offered in community health programs all over the world.
In recent times, a combination of mindful-meditation and yoga has also been shown to significantly improve physical and mental health, as well as self-esteem in chronically ill patients.
Clinical studies have also shown that yoga — asanas [posture exercises], meditation, and breathing, or pranayama — helps reduce stress, pain, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, chemical dependency, depression, tension and anxiety. The list is long.
Put simply, yoga increases our body’s strength and flexibility. It also improves posture, muscle tone, and circulation. Most important: yoga promotes greater mental clarity.
Stay tuned for my next article where I will discuss the terms and language of yoga, the various forms and types of yoga, along with seven easy steps to help you begin a yoga practice. There are many easy yoga positions for beginners to get you started, but a true yogi knows it all begins with these simple foundational steps. A successful practice builds from these principles, then adding the yoga basic positions to grow your practice and skill in due time.