The origins of yoga are shrouded in mystery, from its oral teachings to its historical text. Dating back at least 10,000 years, it was practiced by religions, which may have had a foundation in Hinduism. So why are we so fascinated by yoga and what makes it extremely popular in today’s society?
Yoga is no fitness fad, it’s a way of life and an outlook that many follow. It was first introduced to the western world in the 1880s, as historical teachings. Much later, it was expanded to include physical practice in the 1950s. From that time to the present, yoga has grown in popularity, with many types of yoga to suit different lifestyles and needs. Breaking down its methodology gives an overall view of its benefits: karma yoga (action), to jnana yoga (wisdom).
Many turn to yoga looking for physical accomplishment and possibly body transformation. Soon realizing that yoga is much more than just the physical action. The practice has many styles, some of which include Iyengar, which focuses on precision and anatomical alignment and Vinyasa, which is a fun form of yoga poses, to rhythmic pattern. Yin yoga, is also very popular today, focusing on lengthening and conditioning the body, whist calming the mind. This yoga is great for those who want to master both patience and inner physical strength. Bikram yoga, commonly referred to as hot yoga, was born out of traditional hatha yoga. This form of action yoga is currently very prevalent with the practice room heated to a balmy 95-108˚F. The heat is believed to cleanse, focus and warm the body, so strengthening and lengthening the muscles is easier. Action yoga in general claims many health benefits, some of which include:
- Strengthening of body core and muscles
- Weight reduction
- Enriched organ health
- Increasing spine flexibility
- Easing arthritis
- Improving balance
- Regulating metabolism, while improving digestion
Although yoga combines physical and spiritual strength in all its teachings, wisdom yoga is the mental segment of yoga. An example is Himalayan yoga, which is based in sacred texts and Vedic knowledge. To crudely put it, this is a collection of sacred mantras and hymns. Recited aloud, these mantras/hymns are an ancient comprehension of the scientific makeup of our planet. Today we could categorize this as philosophy.
Osho is a form of wisdom yoga that uses meditation techniques to rid the ego and escape modern day pitfalls of self centeredness and materialism. Restorative yoga focuses on healing and relaxation. Many of these practices have been used to develop modern day yoga classes, one of which even includes a laughter class, which focuses on its benefits as a therapeutic release. Wisdom yoga and its practices, have been used in schools, to calm and focus children’s attention. In the workplace, wisdom yoga can help center creativity and enlighten thought. Many of the claimed health benefits for this type of yoga include:
- Stress relief
- Greater personal energy
- Self Confidence
- Freedom of inhibition
Making time for your own body and mind is crucial, so why not become a “yogi” (a playful term endearing someone who practices yoga). Whatever the stated health benefits are, yoga is a way to explore strength, peace, and harmony in today’s high pressure society.
To read more about yoga, check out GetThrive.com