A popular mis-conception is that you need to be very flexible to practice yoga, flexibility will improve, but it is not a pre-requisite to joining a class and benefiting from the practice.
One of my students gave me two reasons for doing yoga:
Health and happiness
Health for the mind and body can be enhanced by:
- Toning muscles and improving core strength
- Realigning, relaxing and stretching muscles
- Enhancing joint movement, consequently improving blood and oxygen supply to the joints and encouraging the removal of toxins.
- Improving the capacity and function of the lungs through Pranayama – Yogic breathing (there are a range of techniques which are explored)
- Learning to relax fully
Happiness comes, with practice, by achieving inner peace and an increasing appreciation of the natural world around us.
Yoga – history
The first written records referring to yoga arise from the the Arya who moved into the Indus Valley (now Pakistan) circa 1500 BC. They discovered a sophisticated civilisation at least 1,000 years old, well laid out cities, drainage and water supply. The Araya’s brought their own gods chanting and a written language (Sanskrit) enabling the first written records of yoga, the resultant merging of cultures lead to the birth of the Indian Civilisation.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is ultimately about finding your inner self, though not every one wants to take it this far. How one progresses depends on how much you want to put into it. Different people have an affinity with different practices and we explore a range of them – e.g: chanting, or mantras, meditation, visualisation.
Everyone can benefit from yoga both physically and mentally. The physical aspects are outlined above. The mental aspects are more subtle and with time can bring about more awareness of your self and other people and how you relate to each other. The key thing is to bring the ego under control and thus see things as they are, rather than how you perceive them.