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What is Yoga?

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The exact origins of yoga are unknown, but it is thought to be at least five thousand years old. The earliest evidence of yoga practice can be traced back to about 3000 B.C.

Standing Yoga Pose

The original purpose of the postures and breathing exercises was to bring stability and relaxation so practitioners could prepare for the rigors of meditation (sitting still and alert for long periods of time).

The word yoga has its roots in the Sanskrit language and means to merge, join, or unite. Yoga is a form of exercise based on the belief that the body and breath are intimately connected with the mind. By controlling the breath and holding the body in steady poses, or asanas, yoga creates harmony. Yoga is a means of balancing and harmonizing the body, mind and emotions and is a tool that allows us to withdraw from the chaos of the world and find a quiet space within. To achieve this, yoga uses movement, breath, posture, relaxation and meditation in order to establish a healthy, vibrant and balanced approach to living.

Control is a key aspect of yoga; control of the body, breath and mind. The word "Yoga" means balance.

The secret of yoga practice lies in a simple but important word: balance. In every area of our life, yoga represents balanced moderation.

Yoga is labeled as holistic, which means that the body is related to the breath; both are related to the brain; the brain links with the mind, which is a part of consciousness.

Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has both preventive and therapeutic benefits. It has been shown to offer both physical and mental benefits to the body and the mind.

Physical Benefits of Yoga

Yoga Pose

  • Improves flexibility and muscle joint mobility.
  • Strengthens, tones, and builds muscles.
  • Corrects posture; strengthens the spine; eases back pain.
  • Improves muscular-skeletal conditions such as bad knees, tight shoulders and neck, swayback and scoliosis.
  • Increases stamina.
  • Creates balance and grace.
  • Stimulates the glands of the endocrine system.
  • Improves digestion and elimination.
  • Increases circulation; improves heart conditions.
  • Improves breathing disorders.
  • Boosts immune response.
  • Decreases cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  • Encourages weight loss.

Mental Benefits

  • Relieves chronic stress patterns in the body.
  • It increases body awareness.
  • Refreshes the body by relieving muscle strain.
  • Relaxes the mind and body; centers attention; sharpens concentration.

If you decide to give yoga a try, start with beginner's yoga. Yoga is a very unique form of exercise and extremely beneficial but can be difficult at first. Ease into it, accepting your limitations. Strength and flexibility increase slowly and incrementally. As your body adjusts to this form of exercise, you can move on to more difficult poses and phases. Yoga is endless -- and timeless!

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