The simple philosophy of yoga is mind, body, and spirit are all one.
The Sanskrit word “yoga” has many meanings. It is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj”, meaning “to control” (self-discipline), “to yoke” (egolessness), or “to unite”. Looking back, it has grown over the years into something completely different than what it started out as. It has become very popular for its body and mind health benefits. It has also been proven to be extremely helpful for patients in physical therapy.
Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices that originated in ancient India. It was most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, yet the chronology of its earliest texts describing its practices is unclear. It has roots in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
In today’s day and age, yoga definitely isn’t a religion, it is a type of exercise. An ancient text called Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is actually where America’s version originates. The text clearly presents a moral code for “yogis” to follow. It also outlines the path towards a mystical state of enlightenment. For some, it is a spiritual experience but for others, it’s just a way to practice balance and flexibility while gaining strength and relieving stress. Today, it is not a belief system, but it did stem from one.
How to be a Yogi:
A yogi (masculine), or yogini (feminine), is someone who practices yoga or is highly involved in its philosophy. To be considered a yogi or yogini, you need to practice it for health, beauty, strength, relaxation, healing, inner peace, happiness or enlightenment. You can be any religion or have no religion at all. Being a yogi today has nothing to do with your religious practices. Yogis also practice the five basic features of yoga: truth, peace, love, self-discipline, and happiness.
Yoga is able to promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. It is a low-impact activity that can help you increase your energy and stamina while also helping to improve your health. It is often promoted as a physical therapy option to balance and strengthen all parts of the body. Psychologists have begun to research ways of utilizing this practice to improve life for people. For example, it can be used for psychological and mental health during cancer treatments or for treating depression. In addition, yoga could be used to treat schizophrenia and insomnia, although studies are still inconclusive.
The goals of yoga were originally for spiritual and physical liberation. It entered the American mainstream as a tool with benefits such as reduced stress, increased relaxation, and greater flexibility. Now, it continues to grow as something that can help build strength and aerobic capacity. Additionally, it is also a very affordable workout since the only equipment you need is yourself and a mat.
Yoga first came to West in the mid-19th century. The American born yogi, Pierre Arnold Bernard, founded the Tantrik Order of America in 1905. This gave westerners their first glimpse into the practices of yoga and tantra. Tantra yoga works on the subtle energies within your body to increase physical growth and wellbeing. The idea of yoga strictly as exercise was adopted in Europe and North America in the first half of the 20th century.
The second “yoga boom” was in the 1980s. During this time, it was linked to heart health by a man named Dean Ornish. This pushed the concept towards health and exercise rather than any religion. Since 2001, there has been a major “yoga boom”. In 2001, 4 million people living in the United States were practicing and it has skyrocketed to more than 20 million people practicing today.
Possible Physical Injuries:
With any exercise, there is always a possibility of sustaining a physical injury. A survey of yoga practitioners conducted in Australia showed that 20% of those practicing suffered some type of physical injury. Fortunately, only 4.6% of those respondents suffered an injury needing medical attention or that produced lasting pain. The positions that cause the greatest amount of injuries are headstands, shoulder stands, lotus, half lotus, forward bends, backward bends, and handstands.
Most injuries are preventable by either having a more qualified instructor or being a less competitive beginner. Since there is such a high demand for classes, many get certified but often with very little training. Some yoga instructors may not be able to give everyone the needed individualized attention, especially in large classes.
Children and adolescents have a lot to gain from practicing yoga. It can be a form of physical exercise, help with breathing, focus, mindfulness, and be a stress reliever. There are many school districts now incorporating yoga into their physical education programs.
International Yoga Day:
June 21st is International Yoga Day! It first became official in 2015, declared unanimously in 2014 by the United Nations General Assembly. The Indian Prime Minister suggested the date of June 21st since it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and has special significance in many parts of the world.
As you can see, yoga isn’t what it used to be, but it is a strong and powerful tool that many use today. The benefits may not be 100% definite, but yoga is all about you and what makes you feel good. It is great for beginners as well as experts, for any age and at any stage in life, even while pregnant. The best tip for beginners and experts alike is to always be cautious while practicing and have an instructor close by when trying any new position. Continue your search for truth, peace, love, self-discipline, and happiness.
If you would like to learn more about achieving mindfulness, or delve more into the world of fitness and wellness, visit CORE for a free initial assessment or a Functional Movement Assessment! CORE offers several therapeutic and relaxing services similar to yoga, such as massage, therapeutic exercise, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and acupuncture! Whatever you are interested in, CORE is here to help you meet all of your health and fitness goals!
Anne Thoithi is a nutritionist and alternative health specialist who believes in focusing on holistic health when it comes to combating ailments and better managing overall health. For many years, she has also been reviewing various health products for Customer Review which you can read more about here. She believes education is key to better health.