Yoga is a spiritual, physical and mental discipline.  It combines fluid physical movements and breathing techniques that both strengthens the body and relaxes the mind.  In yoga you exercise via posture, breath control, and sense control concentration, moral codes, study, contemplation and meditation.

In traditional Buddhist and Hindu religions, this practice is used to bring about inner tranquility and enlightenment. Though yoga is a big part of some Eastern religious practice, the discipline of yoga in and of itself is not religious. It can be practiced by any one, regardless of faith or spiritual beliefs.  There are also many types of yoga to explore, each with their own practices. If you get bored with one variation you can begin studying another.


What are the Health Benefits of Yoga?

Stress is the number one cause of visits to the doctor each year. Stress can cause everything from insomnia to digestive trouble to heart disease. The practice of yoga helps center the mind and strengthen the body so everyday stresses are easier to handle.

Promotes Relaxation : Yoga combines a series of stretches, postures and breathing techniques designed to enhance focus and release stress. The stretches help ease muscle tension while the breathing calms the mind.

Eases Digestion : Yoga can also ease digestive troubles such as constipation. Postures such as the Bent Elbow Spine Twist, the Cobra and the Rag Doll pose gently massage the stomach and intestines, making digestion and elimination easier.

Strengthens and Tones Muscles : Yoga is not only relaxing and healing; it can also strengthen and tone your muscles. Some of the more challenging yoga postures demand holding a position for some time, resulting in a stronger frame.

If you’re new to yoga, visit your local library and rent beginner’s yoga DVDs or sign up for a beginner’s yoga class at the YMCA. The healing and strengthening benefits of yoga can give you lasting peace of mind.

Types of Yoga

These are a few popular types of yoga you can look into studying, but this is not a comprehensive list.  Which type or approach to turn to depends on which one best suits your needs and personality as well as the level of physical fitness.

Hatha : Hatha is one of the orignal types of Yoga representing a step on the way of achieving high spiritual enlightenment and physical purification. The very name of Hatha yoga fully reflects a philosophy of energetic purification since “ha” means “the sun” and “tha” “the moon”.

Hatha yoga relies on body postures (asanas) and breath control techniques, while leaving meditation out. The asanas are gates towards meditation and the way that the body is prepared for entering advanced states of consciousness.

Ashtanga : Ashtanga yoga was first described by the famous sage Pantanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Ashtanga yoga translates to “eight-limbed yoga”.  The goal is the Universal Self. The goal is to create a flow of energy known as the Sun Salutation as well as find the Universal Self.

Ansura : Anusara yoga was founded in 1997 and is a mixture of Hatha yoga and Tantra yoga.

Christian : The great appeal of this hybrid yoga type comes from the fact that yoga is no longer seen just as the path that leads to personal spiritual fulfillment but also covers the communion with Jesus Christ.

Dahn : Dahn yoga is a Korean system that consists of traditional yoga with tai chi and martial arts.

Bikram : Bikram yoga is also known as Hot yoga because it is practiced in well heated rooms at more than 100°F.

Iyengor : Iyengar yoga is based on Ashtanga and is variety that has become famous for the use of props, belts and blocks in the performance of postures.

Recommended Books

  • Yoga Journal is a website and magazine subscription providing you with videos, poses, recipes, and much more.
  • Yoga For Beginners: Poses for Strength, Flexibility and Relaxation is a 2010 instructional film that is great for beginners.