Categorized | Yoga

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Yoga – The Origins of Yoga

Getting your body in good condition or simply just keeping it in great shape has become an emphasis in modern society. There are numerous methods out there that promote physical health and many more being developed. These new forms of exercise aren’t usually that new however. They are based on ancient practices from thousand of years ago.

Not many people realize that yoga has many similar movements as ballet. Many people will begin practicing yoga for the flexibility advantages that it offers. Even though there are things that yoga has in common with other exercises, there are numerous other benefits to studying it. Its popularity has increased over the years in western society and is now considered the fashionable way to get into shape. It might seem like a new form of exercise, but it has actually been around for centuries originating from Eastern cultures with spiritual roots.

To the western world, yoga has become just another way to exercise and the spiritual aspects of it have been lost. Even though the techniques and movements are the same, its meaning has changed. Originally, yoga was viewed as a small part of the whole like a branch on a tree, but in western society it is viewed more as the entire tree itself losing many of the deeper rooted aspects.

The discovery of yoga can’t be identified to an exact time period, but it is generally accepted to have began around the same time the Indus Valley Civilization which has seals depicting figures in the asana posture around 3000 BC. At about this same time the Vedas, the source of many current yoga postures, were also being written. These gave rise to what is known as Vedic yoga, which focuses on old Indian obsessions with ritual and sacrifice such as the yogic corpse asana.

One of the greatest sacrifices is death which in yoga, is signified by lying as if placed in a coffin. This morbid, yet deeply meaningful position called the corpse pose signifies that according to the Veda’s instruction one’s death leads to freedom.

The meaning of the word yoga can be translated as “union”, the joining of the spiritual and physical worlds. Versus 4:4, 13-14 of the Vedanta Sutras state that material possessions are not attractive to a free soul. The idea of this is to be able to liberate ourselves from material objects that only have meaning in this life.

Even in modern yoga this practice is evident. It is possible to change your awareness through the practice of stillness and the asanas, thus changing our outlook on life. It is possible to begin to feel a part of the whole universe and learn how giving to others is actually helping ourselves since we are actually one, a small part of the whole.

The study of yoga is actually a small part of the whole process, which was commonly known in ancient times. Thousands of years ago the focus on breathing and postures helped improve mind, body and spirit. However, today the concentration is more on the postures and not as much on the breathing. The benefits of the breathing techniques and positions offer great medical as well as physical advantages, such as decreased stress, more energy, flexibility, and strengthened muscles.

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