We all share this planet called Earth, and whether we live in Raleigh, NC 27615 or Bombay, India, who among us is truly at peace in this world? Who among us does not wish to be? True contentment is a rare state of being that we all aspire to whether we realize it or not.
All of us desire freedom from the many negative influences that surround us; physical, emotional, and spiritual difficulties can combine to overwhelm any of us, and many individuals here in Raleigh depend on the truly extraordinary benefits of yoga to enhance their physical health while lessening or eliminating the negative energies that detract from the quality of their life.
Yoga offers a stronger and more flexible body that is in balance with itself— a body that is pain free.
Yoga provides a clear pathway to the inner mind where the secret to true contentment resides.
Yoga promotes a spiritual awareness and joy for those who invite this extraordinary discipline into their life.
In the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, the word yoga means union, which refers to the joining of the body, mind, and soul. This comprehensive, three- pronged approach to self-improvement offers a tried and true way to enhance physical health, achieve clarity and contentment of the mind, and experience true spiritual joy. Yoga offers exceptional benefits for those who embrace the ancient practice, and there are many devotees here in Raleigh who say that yoga has been an extraordinarily uplifting force in their life. Perhaps no other discipline pursued to enrich our existence can offer all that is attained through the learning of the timeless art of yoga.
For some Yoga may be considered a philosophy, a practice, a work out, a way of life or just yoga. We are born into this world with an inhale and we leave with an exhale. Life is a cycle. Everything comes to us in cycles. With yoga, one is able to enjoy these cycles of life with the use of breath, also known as Prana. Pranayama is the art of practicing your breath to control the obstacles created by your actions in this beautiful world.
Yoga helps your mental, physical, and spiritual being.
Yoga gives your mind a constant clarity by nourishing your physical being with the fresh flow of oxygen throughout your veins, organs, muscles, and mind. As you inhale your body takes in pure oxygen. On your exhale your body releases toxins and everything negative. This oxygen is carried throughout your body and mind which helps to purify all of your senses. You start to taste, feel, and smell things differently, hear and see more clearly.
Your body becomes alive.
You begin to feel more peaceful within yourself.
More than anything you will begin to notice the way you view life and the way life views you seems different. Better.
History of Yoga
No one knows exactly when Yoga began, but it certainly predates written history. Stone carvings depicting figures in Yoga positions have been found in archeological sites in the Indus Valley dating back 5,000 years or more. There is a common misconception that Yoga is rooted in Hinduism; on the contrary, Hinduism’s religious structures evolved much later and incorporated some of the practices of Yoga. (Other religions throughout the world have also incorporated practices and ideas related to Yoga.)
The tradition of Yoga has always been passed on individually from teacher to student through oral teaching and practical demonstration. The formal techniques that are now known as Yoga are, therefore, based on the collective experiences of many individuals over many thousands of years. The particular manner in which the techniques are taught and practiced today depends on the approach passed down in the line of teachers supporting the individual practitioner.
One of the earliest texts having to do with Yoga was compiled by a scholar named Patanjali, who set down the most prevalent Yoga theories and practices of his time in a book he called Yoga Sutras (“Yoga Aphorisms”) as early as the 1st or 2nd century B.C. or as late as the 5th century A.D. (exact dates are unknown). The system that he wrote about is known as “Ashtanga Yoga,” or the eight limbs of Yoga, and this is what is generally referred to today as Classical Yoga. Most current adherents practice some variation of Patanjali’s system.
The eight steps of Classical Yoga are 1) yama, meaning “restraint” — refraining from violence, lying, stealing, casual sex, and hoarding; 2) niyama, meaning “observance” — purity, contentment, tolerance, study, and remembrance; 3) asana, physical exercises; 4) pranayama, breathing techniques; 5) pratyahara, preparation for meditation, described as “withdrawal of the mind from the senses”; 6) dharana, concentration, being able to hold the mind on one object for a specified time; 7) dhyana, meditation, the ability to focus on one thing (or nothing) indefinitely; 8) samadhi, absorption, or realization of the essential nature of the self. Modern Western Yoga classes generally focus on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th steps.
Yoga probably arrived in the United States in the late 1800s, but it did not become widely known until the 1960s, as part of the youth culture’s growing interest in anything Eastern. As more became known about the beneficial effects of Yoga, it gained acceptance and respect as a valuable method for helping in the management of stress and improving health and well-being. Many physicians now recommend Yoga practice to patients at risk forheart disease, as well as those with back pain, arthritis, depression, and other chronic conditions.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Yoga as a Hindu philosophy (“darshana”) is first expounded in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This earliest school of Yoga retrospectively came to be known by the retronym Raja Yoga to distinguish it from later schools.
Indus Valley civilization (ca. 3300–1700 BC)
Several steatite seals discovered at Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300–1700 BC) sites depict figures in a yoga- or meditation-like posture, “a form of ritual discipline, suggesting a precursor of yoga”, according to Indus archeologist Gregory Possehl. He points out sixteen specific “yogi glyptics” in the corpus of Mature Harappan artifacts that suggest Harappan devotion to “ritual discipline and concentration”, and that the yoga pose “may have been used by deities and humans alike.” Some type of connection between the Indus Valley seals and later yoga and meditation practices is supported by many other scholars.
Karel Werner writes that “Archeological discoveries allow us therefore to speculate with some justification that a wide range of Yoga activities was already known to the people of pre-Aryan India.” A seal recently (2008) uncovered in the Cholistan desert was described by Dr. Farzand Masih, Punjab University Archaeology Department Chairman, as depicting a “yogi”. Thomas McEvilley writes that “The six mysterious Indus Valley seal images…all without exception show figures in a position known in hatha yoga as mulabhandasana or possibly the closely related utkatasana or baddha konasana….”
The most widely known of these images was named the “Pashupati seal“ by its discoverer, John Marshall, who believed that it represented a “proto-Shiva” figure. Many modern authorities discount the idea that this “Pashupati” (Lord of Animals, Sanskrit paśupati) represents a Shiva or Rudra figure.Gavin Flood characterizes the Shiva or Rudra view as “speculative”, and goes on to say that it is not clear from the ‘Pashupati’ seal that the figure is seated in a yoga posture, or that the shape is intended to represent a human figure. yujate anena iti yogaha yoga is the union of body, mind and soul.
Upanishadic (ca. 800-100 BC)
In the Upanishads, an early reference to meditation is made in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the earliest Upanishads (approx. 900 BCE). The main textual sources for the evolving concept of Yoga are the middle Upanishads, (ca. 400 BCE), the Mahabharata (5th c. BCE) including the Bhagavad Gita (ca. 200 BCE), and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (200 BCE-300 CE).
Shadanga-Yoga – The uniting discipline of the six limbs (shad-anga), as expounded in the Maitrayaniya-Upanishad: (1) breath control (pranayama), (2) sensory inhibition (pratyahara), (3) meditation (dhyana), (4) concentration (dharana), (5) examination (tarka), and (6) ecstasy (samadhi).
An early reference to meditation is made in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the earliest Upanishad (approx. 900 BCE). Yoga is discussed quite frequently in the Upanishads, many of which predate Patanjali’s Sutras. The actual term “yoga” first occurs in the Katha Upanishad. A Rig Vedic cosmogonic myth declares an ascetic with “folded legs, soles turned upwards” as per his name.
Modern growth of yoga in the West
Currently, it is estimated that there are about 30 million people in America, and 1 million people in the United Kingdom practicing hatha yoga.
Yoga (in the West) is an exercise-related and posture-related technique that involves gentle stretching, breath control and meditation… various different forms of yoga, including Hatha (most common in the UK), Ashtanga and Iyengar exist. Yoga has been combined with various other exercise techniques to produce “fusion” classes, for example Yogalates, Body Balancing and Body Conditioning.