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What is Yoga – Demystifying the Practice.

Yoga is most associated with a series of impossible bends and twists that may scare away newcomers. However, this is a common misconception. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Yoga invites practitioners to be “steady and comfortable”, welcoming crowds of any skill level. Even the most classic text regarded as the guide to yoga, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras has no mention of tying yourself into a pretzel. According to the Patanjali, yoga is “the restriction of the fluctuations of consciousness”. This law of mindfulness is just the beginning of yoga’s intertwining relationship with meditation. Engaging in both practices have the benefits of improved stress management, a boost in emotional integrity, and enabling a better diet.

Patanjali
Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar, Uttarakhand

As with all forms of knowledge, the Yoga Sutras were passed down for generations, traced back to an ancient educator, Patanjali. Outside of his notable guide, not much is known about Patanjali. It’s said that he lived sometime during the second century where he drafted many papers on different scientific claims. The Yoga Sutras described an “eight-limbed path”, that details the necessary steps to enlightenment. This would become the first codified yoga routine. Its philosophy of peace and detachment would become the basis of other yoga forms to come.

International Yoga Day in New Delhi India
International Yoga Day 2015 in New Delhi, India

A popular form that the western world has attached itself to is Hatha Yoga. Hatha is the umbrella term that is home to any form of physical yoga that involves asanas (postures). Hatha is a combination of the words “ha” and “tha”, meaning sun and moon respectively. The goal is to create balance, as if connecting the sun and moon, to create alignment within the body, leaving you limber and relaxed. Other common types of Hatha Yoga include Asthanga, Iyengar, Bikram and it’s warm equivalent of Hot Yoga. Regular practice of yoga can result in better posture, lower blood pressure, and stimulates bone health. A quick Google search of “Yoga” or “Yoga studios” will help you find groups and organizations in your area that practice this form of meditation. Yoga is an inexpensive form of exercise that one can do by themselves or within a group and with its many benefits, is definitely worth a try.

June 21st, 2013 in Times Square, New York City

June 21st is International Yoga Day. For more information click here.

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