Although many people believe that yoga originated in India, in reality, no one knows for sure where or when it began. The earliest known evidence of yoga was found by archeologists in the means of carvings of yoga postures in what in now known as Pakistan. Many scholars believe that yoga is the oldest form of meditation. It is one of the most popular forms of meditation and is practiced throughout the world.
Ashtanga – The 8 Limbs Of Yoga
There are eight steps that need to be followed before a person can reach a meditative state.
The first two, yama and niyama, are for moral guidelines. The next three, asana, pranayama, and pratyahara, are for the interiorization of energy. The final three, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi, are for bringing the mind into focus to allow concentration on a single point.
Asanas (Postures) in Yoga
There are thousands of asanas associated with yoga. These range from simple to complex. The asanas are meant to stretch the body. Besides allowing for greater flexibility, asanas can help strengthen the body. When beginning yoga, it’s best to start with simple postures and gradually work way up to the more difficult postures.
Some simple postures include Tadasana, which is a standing pose, Savasana, (sometimes known as the corpse position,) which is lying flat on the back, and Vajrasana, which is sitting on the lower legs and feet. As time goes on and the body becomes more flexible, more and more positions can be added including vrksasana, the position of standing on one foot, with the other foot pulled up and placed on the leg above the knee, with palms touching each other over the top of the head.
Branches Of Yoga
There are different branches of yoga and which branch is chosen is of personal choice. Four of the most common types of yoga are karma yoga, tantra yoga, hatha yoga and bhakti yoga.
Karma yoga is about living a selfless life where no hurtful acts are performed. Tantra yoga focuses on kundalini which is a powerful energy within the body. Hatha yoga involves physical exercises. Bhakti yoga is centered on the path to love and devotion.
The word yoga means to unite and is a way to bring the mind, body, and spirit together through exercise, breathing, and meditation. It’s more than just a form of posing and meditating. For many, it’s way of life. Along with the health benefits, many find yoga to be a way of exploring one’s spirituality.
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