‘Yoga is the removal of the fluctuations of the mind’ – Patanjali
According to Patanjali, yoga is about giving the brain a break – stopping excessive thoughts and just being present here and now. This is also why yoga is great for reducing stress and allowing greater relaxation.
More than 2000 years ago an Indian man called Patanjali wrote the ‘Yoga Sutras’, which consist of eight disciplines that together represent yoga. You should opt to master the art of the first discipline before you move on to the next. When you have mastered all eight disciplines you will obtain absolute blissfulness. Well, at least that is the goal.
The eight disciplines or limbs of ashtanga yoga are:
- Ethical standards and sense of integrity
- Self-discipline and spiritual observances
- Integration of body and mind through physical activity (what most of us think about when hearing the term yoga)
- Breathing exercises to optimise our energy and integrate our body and mind
- Withdrawal of the senses of perception, the external world and outside stimuli
- Concentration, one-pointedness of mind
- Meditation or contemplation – an uninterrupted flow of concentration
- The quiet state of blissful awareness.
Today yoga is one of the most popular workout regimes in the world. First, we embraced the physical part of yoga in the Western world, but meditation and mindfulness are also becoming very popular in recent years.
Types of yoga
Benefits of yoga
Yoga is a form of physical exercise based on asanas (physical poses) that improve control of mind and body and enhance well-being.
There are many benefits of yoga, but some of the most important are:
- increased flexibility
- improved balance
- increased muscle strength and tone
- improved body alignment (reduces joint pain)
- better stamina
- reduced weight (and management of weight)
- reduced chronic pain (for example lower back pain)
- improved respiration and energy
- reduced stress
- improved body awareness and body control
- better sleep
- increased relaxation
- a more positive outlook on life
- better concentration.
If you are pregnant, you can also benefit greatly from yoga – but always talk to your doctor prior to practising yoga, as you may need to modify or avoid some poses.
A couple of good tips
If you have not been to a yoga class before, here are a couple of tips regarding good etiquette…
Always take off your shoes before entering the class. Turn off all electronic devices (including your phone). Be on time, and never leave a class early as it disrupts the other yogis and you will miss your final relaxation. Be in the moment, enjoy yourself and feel the magic.
Did you know?
That the word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning ‘to yoke or join together’? Some people interpret it to mean a union of body and mind.
That yoga practitioners are called ‘yogis’?
That ancient yogis believed we only have a limited number of breaths? So, slow those inhales and exhales down for a longer life.