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A Beginners Guide to Yoga

A Beginners Guide to Yoga by Loretta @ HealthyMeNow.Net

The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline. A male who practices yoga is called a yogi, a female practitioner, a yogini.

Yoga is not a religion. It is a philosophy that began in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. The father of the classical eight-limbed path, is said to be Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra. These writings provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental body. Yoga sometimes interweaves other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice or study yoga, nor is it necessary to change any of your religious beliefs.

Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the Yamas (restraints), Niyamas (observances), Asana (postures), Pranayama (breathing), Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyani (meditation), and Samadhi (absorption). As we explore these eight limbs, we begin to refine our behavior in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach Samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).

Most gym oriented yoga practices are focused on the third limb, asana, which is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation.  For a more in-depth yoga experience consider attending a yoga studio.

Hatha Yoga refers to a set of asanas or postures, and sequences of asanas, designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many channels of the body—especially the main channel, the spine—so that energy can flow freely.

Hatha is translated as ha meaning “sun” and tha meaning “moon.” This refers to the balance of masculine aspects—active, hot, sun—and feminine aspects—receptive, cool, moon—within all of us. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies we develop a balance of strength and flexibility. We also learn to balance our effort and surrender in each pose.

Yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in the unfolding of each moment.

Namaste.  Nama means bow, as means I, and te means you. Therefore, namaste literally means “bow me you” or “I bow to you.”  The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another.

Not Flexible? You are a perfect candidate for yoga. Many people think that they need to be flexible to begin yoga, but that’s a little bit like thinking that you need to be able to play golf in order to take golf lessons. Come as you are and you will find that yoga practice will help you become more flexible.

All you really need to begin practicing yoga is your body, your mind, and a bit of curiosity. But it is also helpful to have a pair of yoga pants, or shorts, and a t-shirt that’s not too baggy. No special footgear is required because you will be barefoot. It may be helpful to bring water to class with you, but you should refrain from eating a large meal 2-3 hours before class. As your practice develops you might want to buy your own yoga mat, but most studios will have mats and other props available for you.

Feel the fear and do it anyway!  A great way to start is at Chandor Gardens Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:30pm.  Or Hiking and Yoga at LG Ranch visit HealthyMeNow.Net for more information.

Namaste, Loretta

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