What Do I Need To Know About Yoga?

By: peter1
Just about everyone knows about Yoga, but not so many know what it is and where it comes from. Yoga is an extremely ancient art or discipline, and has many branches.

It is believed that yoga originated some 2000 or 3000 years ago or earlier. It is thought that the first recording of the practices of yoga were by an Indian sage called Patanjali, who recorded the practice of yoga into the first yoga book, called the Yoga Sutra.

This book is guide for the practice of yoga in general, and is a collection of 195 statements that outline the discipline. It details the 8 limbs of yoga. It is intended that the practitioner follow the 8 limbs to reach a spiritual enlightenment.

This spiritual enlightenment is called samadhi.

This is, or was, the goal of yoga. It is now quite common for yoga to be practiced for its health giving benefits as much as its spiritual benefits. There is much evidence to suggest that the practice of yoga has a wide range of health benefits, both mental and physical.

The 8 limbs of yoga go together to form the entire discipline, however it is common now for people practicing yoga to follow the third limb called asana. This is the physical discipline which is the practice of the physical postures which were originally designed to purify the body. It was intended that this be undertaken to provide the physical endurance for meditation, which was one of the major paths to enlightenment.

Yoga as it is commonly practiced is a little like some of the stretching exercises we see. But it is much more than that.
Certainly there are the physical movements, or postures, but yoga is designed to combine these to connect the body and the mind by breathing control combined with the postures practiced. This helps the practitioner direct attention inward and make it easier to engage in meditation or the focussing of attention to our thought patterns. This cultivates a mental awareness and an expansion of the mind.

Overall yoga is a discipline designed for physical and spiritual growth, the one fostering the other.

It is not a religion, but more a philosophy, and it is not intended that practitioners follow any one guru or another. Modern yoga spends much of its focus on the physical aspects of yoga, and the health benefits which follow from its practice.

Whether you are brand new to yoga or an experienced yoga practitioner you can always become involved, or more involved, and there is always more to learn. It is fun, relaxing and great for your body and mind. You dont need to be involved in a quest for spiritual enlightenment, just keen to learn a new discipline for your life that may have an extremely positive effect.
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