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Yoga is time tested, 5000 years old practice, comprised of stretching and breathing exercises designed to attain liberation.
Yoga is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy, focusing on meditation as a path to self-knowledge and liberation through enabling bodily and mental control thereby improving physical and mental health.  

History of Yoga

It is said that yoga is as old as civilization, but there is physical evidence that supports this claim. The earliest evidence of yoga comes from archaeology: stone seals with depict figures of Yoga Poses were found and they place yoga's existence 3000 years B.C.

Scholars on the other hand believe that Yoga existed long before that and place its beginnings in Stone Age Shamanism: namely both, shamanism and yoga have similar characteristics- they aim to heal community and act as religion.

However, Yoga history and development can be divided into four periods: the Vedic Period, Pre-Classical Period, Classical Period, and Post-Classical Period.
The earliest written evidence of yoga can be found in the Sanskrit hymns of the Aryan people, known as the Vedas, therefore the Vedic period (3000BC- 1200BC). The Sanskrit word Veda means “knowledge”; other three Vedas are Yajur Veda (knowledge of sacrifice), Sama Veda (Knowledge of chants), and Atharvana Veda (knowledge of Atharvana). In that period people believed in a ritualistic way of life: for example: rituals, sacrifices and ceremonies was considered a means to connect people to the spiritual world.
Period of pre classical yoga covers a period of approximately 2000 years until the second century. Fromthat time the 200 scriptures of the Upanishads describe the inner vision of reality resulting from devotion to Brahman and explain three subjects: the ultimate reality (Brahman), the transcendental self (atman), and the relationship between the two. Gnostic texts, called the Upanishads further explain the teachings of the Vedas, and speak  in detail about the self and ultimate reality appeared. Just as the Upanishads further the Vedas, the Gita builds on and incorporates the doctrines found in the Upanishads. The central teaching of the Gita is, to do your duty and not expect the fruit of action. In the Gita three facets must be brought together in our lifestyle: Bhakti (loving devotion), Jnana (knowledge or contemplation) and Karma (selfless actions).
Thrid period- classical period is marked by another creation, called the Yoga Sutra, which is composed of 195 aphorisms or sutras. Yoga Sutra was written by Patanjali around the second century as an attempt to define and standardize Classical Yoga. He believed that  each individual is made up of matter (prakriti) and spirit (purusha), thus he advocated that yoga would restore the spirit to its absolute reality, a teaching that saw a shift from non dualism to dualism.
The Middle Ages brought us the Hatha Yoga Pradipika which went into further detail of the yogic way of physical practice and spiritual enlightenment. Postclassical yoga teaches Vedanta (philosophical system based on the teachings of the Upanishads): ultimate unity of everything in the cosmos. For example: previous eras saw yogis laying emphasis only on meditation and contemplation, while in postclassical period Yogis began to probe into the hidden powers of the body.

Yoga Styles

Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Astanga Yoga are the most common disciplines of Yoga. They give you the strength, relaxation and flexibility. But there're are various other disciplines and kinds of Yoga, that we will explain more in detail in second article: Iyengar, Bikram, Kripalu, Sivananda, Viniyoga, Raja-yoga, Bhakti-yoga, Mantra-yoga.

Yoga exercises and Yoga postures (Asanas)

The practice of Yoga Exercises means practicing both your body and your mind, which means yoga postures take the willpower and perseverance to accomplish them.
The practice of Yoga Exercises or Asanas can improve your health, increase your resistance, and develop your mental awareness. Moreover Yoga has postures and breathing techniques for almost all diseases, health disorders, allergies, pains, for example digestive disorders, back pain, depression, arthritis, diabetes etc. Many of the exercises are simple and have a magical effect on most disorders. Breathing is an essential part of every assana. If you are a beginner, it would be helpful to sign up for some Yoga classes where a professional teacher would guide you through each Yoga Pose and make sure you are doing the exercise correctly.

Yoga postures are divided into following sections: warm-up poses, standing poses, seated poses, twist yoga poses, supine poses, inverted postures and balance poses, backbends and finishing poses. 
We will represent just two exercises from warm up and standing section.
In general, warming up depends on the Yoga Style that you practice. Warming poses for example include eye training, neck exercises, shoulder lifts... We will present cat pose or also known as Bidalasana. This pose teaches to initiate movement from the centre and to coordinate movement and breath, which is very important in every asana. However, you must know that cat pose is not recommendable for those who have chronic back pain or some sort of back injury.
 
Start on your hands and knees (hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees directly beneath the hips)
Your fingers are fully spread with middle finger poiting straight ahead. Back is horizontal and flat. This position is called 'neutral'. When you're ready to begin breathe in deeply: as you exhale turn hips into cat tilt by gently pulling the abdominal muscles backward toward the spine, tucking the tailbone  down and gently contracting the buttocks. As you inhale turn your hips into Dog Tilt by releasing the grip of the buttocks, reversing the tilt of your pelvis, and curving your spine into a smoothly arched backbend. The pubic bone will move backward through the legs, the sitting bones will turn upward, and the sacrum will change its angle. The navel is kept backwards toward the spine as you do this: continue pressing downward into your hands to lengthen the arms and stay lifted out of the shoulders. Lift your chest away from the waist, lift your head, slide the shoulder blades down your back, and either gaze at a point on the floor in front of you or upward toward the ceiling. You may also close your eyes and immerse yourself in the way this feels.

One of standing poses that is often used to pay attention to position, concentration and breathing is called Mountain (Tadasana). Stand up straight with both feet at hip-width. Your heels are turned a little outward, which means your weight rests on your toes. Let your arms hang downwards along your body and the palm of your hands are pointed towards your body. Draw in your ribs a little in the direction of your belly and make the back of your pelvis move away from your lower back. Breathe in and out a few minutes with full concentration. Shoulders are relaxed, the same is with breathing: it is free and relaxed. Look straight ahead of you at at spot within your vision.    

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