Yoga for a Healthy Soul and Body
Yoga is a philosophy and practice that connects the body, breath, and mind to energize and balance the whole person. This mind-body therapy involves physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to improve overall well-being for mind, body, and a healthy soul.
Many studies have indicated a helpful element or a complementary intervention for cancer, schizophrenia, asthma and heart patients. In a national survey, long-term yoga practitioners in the United States reported musculo–skeletal and mental health improvements. Yoga for a healthy soul is a philosophy that yoga will help you stay balanced in mind, body, and soul.
Yoga (Sanskrit, Pāli: योग, /ˈjəʊɡə/, yoga) is a commonly known generic term for physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines which originated in ancient India. Specifically, yoga is one of the six āstika (“orthodox”) schools of Hindu philosophy. One of the most detailed and thorough expositions on the subject are the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali. Various traditions of yoga are found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
Pre–philosophical speculations and diverse ascetic practices of first millennium BCE were systematized into a formal philosophy in early centuries CE by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. By the turn of the first millennium, Hatha yoga emerged as a prominent tradition of yoga distinct from the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. While the Yoga Sutras focus on discipline of the mind, Hatha yoga concentrates on health and purity of the body.
Hindu monks, beginning with Swami Vivekananda, brought yoga to the West in the late 19th century. In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a physical system of health exercises across the Western world.
Different branches or paths of yoga developed, including:
Hatha — The most common form of yoga in the United States. It emphasizes physical postures or exercises, known as asanas, with the goal of balancing the opposites in one’s life. During the exercises, flexing is followed by extension, a rounded back is followed by an arched back, and physical exercises are followed by meditations. Yin and Yang.
Bhakti — Aims to take all of the love in one’s heart and direct it toward the divine. By seeing God in all of creation, the person who practices regularly has respect for all life and is encouraged to treat others generously and become one with all.
Jnana — Emphasizes deep contemplation. Practitioners seek Jnana, or “wisdom,” through meditation. The goal is to be one with God.
Karma — Based on the Karma philosophy that “yesterday’s actions determine today’s circumstances.” Practitioners of Karma yoga make a conscious decision to perform selfless acts of kindness. By making today’s actions positive, they hope they can improve tomorrow’s circumstances for both themselves and others.
Raja — Known in India as “the royal (raj) road to reintegration,” Raja Yoga blends the four layers of self: the physical body, the individual consciousness, the individual subconsciousness, and the universal and infinite consciousness, higher self. Raja yoga, being most concerned with the mind and spirit, emphasizes meditation.
Tantra — Like Hatha yoga, practitioners of Tantra yoga seek to balance the opposites in their lives. They also try to break free of the “six enemies” (physical longing, anger, greed, vanity, obsession, jealousy) and the “eight fetters” (hatred, apprehension, fear, shyness, hypocrisy, pride of ancestry, vanity of culture, egotism) by using discipline, training, and rituals.
Hatha is often a general term used to describe many different types or styles of yoga. If a class is called “Hatha yoga,” it will include both breathing and physical exercises or postures. Other styles of can be more intense. Among the more popular styles of are:
Ashtanga or Power yoga — a more demanding workout where you constantly move from one posture to another (“flow”).
Bikram, or Hot, yoga — a series of 26 asanas (postures) practiced in a room that is 95 to 100 degrees in order to warm and stretch the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and to purify the body through sweat.
Integral — a gentle type of yoga that may include breathing exercises, chanting, and meditation.
Lyengar — emphasizes great attention to detail and precise alignment of the body, and holding poses for long periods of time.
Kundalini — emphasizes the effects of breath on the postures, with the aim of freeing energy in the lower body to move upwards. Encompasses the chakra energies of the body.
Viniyoga — adapts postures to each person’s needs and abilities, and synchronizes breath and postures. Breath leads the body into each posture.
When people meet and part in India they often say, Namaste’ which means: “I honor the place within you where the entire Universe resides; I honor the place within you of love, of light, of truth, of peace; I honor the place within you, where, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.” Mahatma Gandhi
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