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In the simplest explanation, Yoga is Hindu based spiritual practice focusing on Asanas, Meditation and breath control and is used to achieve enlightenment as well as physical and mental health. Yoga has so much more involved than what we often see on the surface.
Many people practicing Yoga in the western world primarily use yoga in their day-to-day fitness regime, not accounting for the spiritual connection it provides us with the universe and our bodies. However, the benefits go much deeper within our bodies, and the energies we exude around us.
We as humans are composed of numerous factors and elements, some of which we see such as our physical bodies, and ones we cannot see such as our soul. Whether visible or not, each component of us is just as important as another. Yoga, can connect all those elements together to work harmoniously as one.
Pranayama is the breath work used in yoga. There are various techniques such as Surya/Chandra Breath (Single Nostril Breathing), Or Ujjayi Ocean Breath for example used in yoga to practice breath control, purify the body and oxygenate the blood.
Pranayama has a multitude of other Benefits in addition to the ones listed. Yoga is lifestyle, meaning Pranayama can be used on and off the mat. Using Pranayama in everyday life can aid with anxiety, stress, etc.
Asanas are the poses used in Yoga. For example, Tadasana (Mountain pose) is a common beginner’s yoga Asana. Tadasana can Improve posture as well as firm the abdomen and glutes, can improve digestion has invigorating qualities, and also connects with the root chakra. In the case of Tadasana and all asanas, they have spiritual, mental and physical benefits. It’s the philosophy and history of yoga which makes it more than an average fitness class. Each pose has a purpose and history, making it beneficial even if we aren’t necessarily aware of it at that moment.
Meditation is yet another vital aspect of Yoga which really and truly connects us with other spiritual realms and enlightens us if we allow it to do so. Through meditation, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and ideas.
This is time for self-discovery and deep connections. Meditation is a very personal experience and can be executed in a way works for each individual and can have music and guided meditation can also help. Mediation also improves impulse control, stress, attention, etc.
Yoga is something that each person is drawn to for their own reasoning. Sometimes we learn this from yoga or yoga teacher training (YTT). There is no specific reason or intention one must enter into a yoga practice with, because it’s a journey.
The reason and intention may change over time, and that’s what yoga is there for. It’s a place of support and kindness where we can focus on ourselves as an individual’s, where we are in life, our physical abilities etc.
We are all unique as people, with our own stories and personalities, and yoga can help us find out more about ourselves and speak our own truths. Yoga can help us see beyond our current surrounding and circumstances, help us see beyond the materialistic and selfish tendencies that live within many of us.