What is yoga? You night be thinking “That’s silly, yoga is what I use on my workout tape every day,” or “Yoga is what I sweat to in class, with 90’s greatest hits”, but in actuality….yoga derives from ancient Indian traditions.Â Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism all contain meditative practices associated with the word â€œyoga.â€Â Â The popularity of yoga as a form of exercise has exploded over the past fifteen years. Many gyms, universities, recreation departments, and workout videos promise yoga will help your mental and physical health.
During my first few years at college, I took two or three classes of â€œYoga for Strength.â€Â I did not know much about yoga and allowed my busy schedule to prevent me from going regularly.Â I think if I knew more about the psychological and physical philosophy of yoga, I would have appreciated the classes and benefited from them. So, over the next few weeks, I am going to research different types of yoga.Â This week, we are going to learn about the history and origin of yoga.
Modern yoga as an exercise was probably developed from Hatha Yoga.Â Hatha Yoga was founded by Yogi Swatmarama and refers to the physical practices of yoga (in Hinduism, there are eight limbs of yoga). These eight limbs are aspects of being that help one achieve a wholesome and satisfying life (and surprisingly enough, only one of these, asana, includes physical poses). Hatha yoga endeavors to create harmony between body and mind (which is something so many of us need). Various body poses are used to improve health and banish disease.Â The benefits of Hatha yoga are improved flexibility, bone strength, and enhanced concentration (so you can concentrate yourself away from the nearest doughnut, perhaps?)
A Hatha yoga classes is centered around meditation and stretching. It includes stretching and breathing exercises to relax the mind and free the body from stress. This class will be a leisurely and meditative workout (something so many of us are unfamiliar with), and it is a great way to unwind after a long week of work or to center your breathing and thoughts.
Does this seem too leisurely to be your weekly workout? Keep in mind that physical fitness shouldn’t always be about how many calories you burn or how much weight you lift (but rather, being a balanced role model for your kids, and a balanced person for yourself).Â Stay tuned… next week we will discuss the faster-paced Vinyasa yoga and its six styles (Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram/Hot Yoga, Jivamukti, Kundalini and Power Yoga). Being educated in the history and goals of yoga will help you choose the right type for you… whether you want to de-stress or tone up!
* Admit It: Do you need to find ways to de-stress in your daily life? Would you ever want to try this kind of Yoga?
Want to get outside, feel fit or find new ways to tone your body? Cara Murphy will help you tap into your inner athlete, no matter where you are at in your life. To submit your own questions, comments and suggestions, please contact Cara at firstname.lastname@example.org.