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Yoga for Dummies
When you think of yoga, one of the first things that come to mind is stretching. While yoga certainly does involve a lot of stretching techniques, it is so much more than that. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj which means union. This union is the union between mind, body and sprit within yourself or the union between the human spirit and the universe.
Yoga dates back to some five thousand years, with its roots deep in Eastern culture. And while it is practiced as a spiritual art in Hinduism and Buddhism, the modern world has turned to the practice of yoga to help better their mind, body and soul. All in all, yoga can be seen as an overall body conditioning experience and one that is beneficial to every aspect of your mental and physical well being.
While there are many types of yoga styles, the basic elements of yoga are posture, breathing, meditation and relaxation.
Posture greatly affects your physical and spiritual well being. Having the correct posture can help you curb back pain and strains. It can also bring about a greater self-awareness, confidence and overall vitality.
In yoga, you will find a combination of various postures or poses, each of which is designed to not only target and strengthen a specific body part, but also to assist with the development of your physical awareness as well.
One of the most important things in life is learning to breathe correctly, not only to merely survive, but to enhance vitality. In yoga the practice of breathing is known as pranayama. Pranayama is the Sanskrit word, which when broken up means energy (prana) and yama which means to lengthen. You will find that in yoga classes a great emphasis is placed on breathing throughout each posture. Correct breathing techniques allow the flow of oxygen to be evenly distributed to every cell throughout the body.
Meditation in yoga means being in a healthy state of awareness and achieving mental focus and clarity. Yoga focuses on quietening the mind and bringing about inner peace and tranquillity.
Meditation is generally practiced before and after a yoga session in order to prepare the mind and thereafter quieten it and allow it to be free and one with the universe.
After most yoga sessions, the relaxation phase is the most beneficial to your mental functioning. During this time you allow your body to let go of any inner tension and just enjoy a few minutes being united with universe and the calming silence. Through relaxation you are able to let go of any tension both mental and physical in order to enjoy a more calming and soothing effect on your body.
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