Yoga

“Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind”, (Sage Patanjali, the Yoga Sutras – I.2). The word Yoga comes from Sanskrit and means ‘union’. Yoga is a spiritual science of Self-realisation that has been developed in India thousands of years ago. Through Yoga we learn to master our body and mind to cultivate inner stillness and an ever growing realization of the innermost essence (soul).

The traditional practice of Yoga is holistic by nature and includes every aspect of life, amongst which: universal ethics (Yama), personal ethics for self purification (Niyama), body cultivation through practice of postures (Asana), mastering of energy through breathing exercises (Pranayama), control over the senses of perception (Pratyahara), concentration (Dharana), and meditation (Dhyana). The yogic journey guides us from the periphery (body) to the centre of our being (soul) aiming to integrate and harmonize the various layers of our existence to achieve wholeness, health and self realization.

Yoga identifies five such layers of being that can be seen as Russian dolls nested within each other: The first layer is the physical body (annamaya kosa) that encompass the following four subtle layers: Our energetic/organic body (Pranamaya kosa), our mental body (Manomaya kosa) our intellectual body (Vijnanamaya kosa), and ultimately our spiritual body, or soul (Anandamaya kosa).

Yoga teaches us that when we manage to bring those layers into harmony and alignment, fragmentation disappears, integration is achieved and unity is established. In the last 50 years Yoga has become widespread in the West mainly due to its appealing aspect of physical practice (asana), and what most of us know is in fact related to a form of Yoga that emphasises the practice of Asana more than any other: Hatha Yoga.

If you are new to Yoga then why not try it and discover what it can do for your body and mind.

Central to the philosophy of yoga is ‘everything is connected’.

1. Stress relief – Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body by encouraging relaxation and lowering the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Related benefits include lowering of blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system, as well as easing symptoms of condiutions such as anxiety. depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia.

2. Pain relief – Yoga can ease pain. Studies have shown that whilst practising yoga and meditation, people have experienced a reduction in pain for conditions such as, cancer, MS, auto-immune diseases, hypertension, arthritis, back and neck pain and other chronic conditions.

3. Better breathing – Yoga teaches people within there practise to take slower, deeper breaths. This helps to improve lung function and trigger the body’s relaxation response

4. Flexibility – Yoga helps to improve flexibility and mobility, increasing the range of movement of the joints and reducing aches and pains.

5. Increased strength – Yoga postures use every muscle in the body, helping to increase strength from head to toe. Yoga also helps to relieve muscular tension.

6. Weight managements – Yoga can aid weight control by reducing cortisol levels, as well as by burning excess calories and reducing stress. Yoga also encourages healthy eating habits and provides a heightened sense of well being and self-esteem.

7. Improved circulation – Yoga helps to improve circulation and, as a result of various poses, more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells while helping to rid the body of deoxyenated blood.

8. Cardiovascular conditioning – Even gentle yoga practise can provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering resting hear rate, increasing endurance and improving oxygen uptake during exercise.

9. Better body alignment – Yoga helps to improve body alignment, resulting in beter posture and helping to relieve back, neck, joint and muscle problems.

10. Focus on the present – Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind body health. It opens the way to improved co-ordination, reaction time and memory.