Yoga is the World’s oldest holistic system of self-development, integrating body, mind, and spirit. The science of Yoga began its development in India over 5,000 years ago and has evolved into a contemporary mind / body health and wellness system with practices ranging from purely physical fitness to a holistic lifestyle grounded in spiritual principles that expand consciousness and cultivate compassion.
Yoga encompasses a diversity of teachings and techniques, yet all schools of Yoga commit to cultivating health, fostering personal growth and supporting spiritual transformation. Yoga is highly adaptable. “The only authentic Yoga is the one that works for each person according to circumstances and needs, and there are many possibilities.” T.K.V. Desikachar
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Four Paths of Yoga
- Karma Yoga - the active path. Selfless service. Involves working in the world and giving of oneself. Great for people with an active temperament. Think Mother Theresa, Habitat for Humanity, Peace Corps...
- Bhakti Yoga - the path of love and devotion. Emotional energy channeled in devotion, chanting, prayer, church choir.
- Jnana Yoga - the philosophical or intellectual path. Considered the most difficult of the four paths. Cultivates mental clarity and discriminating wisdom.
- Raja Yoga - the Scientific Path or 8-Fold Path
- Yama & Niyama ~ Ethical Living
- Asana ~ Yoga Postures
- Pranayama ~ Breath regulation
- Pratyahara ~ Withdrawal of attention from the senses
- Dharana ~ Concentration or One-Pointedness
- Dhyana ~ Meditation or One-Flowingness
- Samadhi ~ Ecstasy or Self-Realization
- Hatha Yoga - a form of Raja Yoga that emphasizes postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation. Hatha Yoga, practiced in most Yoga classes, is the most common form of Yoga in the US.
Health Benefits of Yoga
- Yoga helps to create an optimal environment for healing through relaxation and focused breathing.
- Distracts mind and body from habitual pain messages.
- Builds strength and flexibility in a relaxed way.
- Relieves deeply held tension in the body and mind.
- Increases circulation and oxygen intake.
- Improves postural alignment and range of motion.
- Studies have indicated that people with chronic pain who are active have fewer problems with pain.
- Yoga empowers people to manage their pain.
Stress Benefits of Yoga
- Muscle tension
- Blood pressure
- Pulse rate
- Respiratory rate
- Depression and anxiety
- Harmful effects of chronic stress
- Cardiovascular efficiency
- Respiratory efficiency
- Energy levels
- Digestion and elimination
- Strength and endurance
- Flexibility and range of motion
- Muscle tone
- Immune function
- Concentration and memory