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What Is Yoga?

What is yoga, and what is it all about?  In Sanskrit, which is the ancient language of India where yoga originated, Yoga means "union".   The practice of yoga is meant to unify the mind, body and spirit.

The Kinds of Yoga

what is yoga?There are eight kinds of yoga, the majority of which put emphasis on mental and spiritual well being, as well as physical activity.  In North America, however, there is often more emphasis put on the physical aspects of yoga, as opposed to the mental and spiritual.  The vast majority of the yoga practiced in the west is probably best described by the Sanskrit work asana, which refers to the practice of physical postures and poses.

Bikram's Yoga

I've been a practicing yogi for almost four years now.  The kind of Yoga I practice is Bikram's Yoga, which is yoga practiced in a very hot room.  For myself, I find it really helps exercise my joints and ligaments, as well as stretching out my muscles.  In addition, I do find that it has a calming effect on the mind.  If I'm stressed about anything, I know that a yoga class is one of the best things for me.

Why I Consider Yoga to be be an Animal Exercise

I consider yoga to be an animal exercise as it works your entire body as a system, from the inside out.  This is not surprising, as the ancient yoga masters developed their theories and postures by observing the natural world and the animals in it.  Like all great natural exercises, yoga builds your body up and improves your internal systems.  I suspect this is particularly important as you get older.

Although I am currently doing Bikram's yoga, there are many other varieties out there for you to try.  Personally, I like the hot room as it makes it easier for me to stretch (this is important as I'm really inflexible).  However, if this is not your thing, try another kind.  I'm sure you'll find one to your liking.

Yoga and White People

On a lighter note, yoga ranks #15 on the list of "Stuff White People Like".  The link here is for the blog, although there is a funnier entry in the recently released book.

In this article, I give a brief history of yoga from its origins in India to it's popularity today.

There are many health benefits to practicing yoga on a regular bases.  For my, I really do believe that it works to build your entire body and keep it healthy.  This is opposed to most sports which (although beneficial in many other ways) tend to wear your body down.

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