Yoga is a Sanskrit word that translates to mean join, unite or merge. It is both an art and a science designed to align the human mind to a state of equilibrium, balance and unity with the universal consciousness. Yoga developed from early eastern philosophy. The main sources are found in The Upanishads, a sub-section of The Vedas, which are Hindu scriptures revealing the ‘the end of knowledge’. The oldest records date back to between 800-400BC and they explore the questions of who and what we are and the essential nature of Brahman, the universal consciousness (governing force of nature, supreme spirit).
Yoga can be divided into four main strands and the area we have adopted in the West is primarily Hatha yoga. This is a system designed to maintain optimum health in the body and mind so that it is a fit vehicle for spiritual evolution. However, yoga is such that it can be practised for more practical reasons.
Through a series of postures (asanas) the body becomes alert and flexible, drawing strength from the core. The breathing techniques (pranayama) develop stamina whilst working on the parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body and mind. The relaxation techniques enable the body and mind to let go of tension, be in the moment, and enjoy pure presence.
The practice of yoga not only encourages and develops a strong and supple body, but also improves mental activities and discipline such as positive thinking, single pointed focus and concentration.
Yoga is non-competitive. Even within a group setting a good teacher will encourage the practitioner to develop at their own pace, and ultimately steer them to become the master of their own body. There are moderations to most asanas to suit every individual.