What is Yoga? A Quick and Simple Explanation.
Have you noticed that all your friends getting into yoga? Have you found yourself interested as well, but have been too embarrassed to ask them what it actually is? Well, no need to fear. We have the answers to your questions right here!
What is yoga?
Yoga is the combination of various mental, physical, and spiritual practices that seek to enhance the mind, body, and soul. The term itself derives from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means “to yoke or to unite”— often understood as a combination or union. While the exact time period is unknown, it is estimated that the origins of yoga were in ancient India, somewhere between 2000 and 5000 years ago. Swami Vivekananda, a yoga guru from India, introduced yoga to the western world in the late 19thcentury and by the 1980s, yoga had caught on as a form of physical exercise. In addition to exercise, 42% of people state that yoga increases their personal well-being. Fast forward to today and more and more people seem to be jumping on the yoga train.
Contrary to popular belief, yoga is much more than the magnificent poses you see while scrolling through Instagram. What you are witnessing is called Hatha yoga, which is the physical and mental branch of yoga, and is just one of six branches of yoga. The others include:
- Raja yoga – which involves adhering to the “eight limbs of yoga” and meditation.
- Bhakti yoga – the path of heart and devotion.
- Jnana yoga – the path of wisdom.
- Karma yoga – the path of service in which you choose a future free of negativity and selfishness.
- Tantra yoga – the path of ritual.
Those looking to transform their mind and body should look towards the paths of Hatha and Raja to begin their yoga journey.
Why would someone practice yoga?
While it is impossible to list all the reasons why people practice yoga, most do so in order to bring balance or change to their life. A few of the reasons would include:
- Increased body awareness
- Stress relief
- Pain reduction
- Joint health
- Spiritual health
- Mind/body connection
- Weight Loss
- Social engagement
Where does this yoga thing take place? Do I need to sign up for a class?
That is the great part about yoga… you can do it anywhere! While it is true that most of us see yoga taking place in a side room of our local gym, this doesn’t always have to be the case. These classes are usually guided by a trained yoga instructor, but you can practice yoga from the comfort of your own home. Just clear a space in one of your rooms and search for an online yoga class. There are plenty of yogis who share their sessions on their website or Youtube.
You’re probably thinking to yourself right now, “What are yogis?”
A yogi is a person who practices yoga and follows the yoga philosophy. Technically speaking, yogi is the term for male practitioners and yogini is the term for female practitioners, however, the term yogi has become the overall general term for those who practice yoga. Hopefully, by the time you get done reading this article, you will want to become a yogi as well!
Do I need to do yoga every day? What if I can’t do some of the poses?
The good thing about yoga is that you don’t need a set schedule like you would for most other things. Finding some time to fit a yoga session in between your other daily tasks is quite easy. And don’t stress if you can only practice yoga a few times a week, or you can only manage a 10-minute session. Like Pinterest or a bowl of blueberries, yoga is seriously addictive. The more you practice, the more you will find yourself clearing your schedule of the not so important tasks, so you can fit in another yoga session. Before you know it, you will be hitting all of the best poses with ease!
Are you excited yet? Are you ready to begin your yoga journey?
I know I am! In fact, I think I will bust out the mat and get a few positions in before I start my day!
Have a lovely day!