While yoga evolved as a spiritual practice in Hinduism, its popularity in the West is limited only to meditative purposes and physical exercise. Known to many, yoga is now part of therapeutic alternatives.
Yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, an old Indian language. This means union of mind and body-a spiritual healing that transcends to body treatment. The original yoga refers to the control of the five senses and halting of mental activities leading to a supreme state.
As yoga evolved to what it is now, the eight-limbed postures are still history of breathwork adapted to every variation of yoga taught in yoga classes. These core characteristics include the yaman, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dyhana, and samadhi. In many yoga sessions, the pranayama is the first pose. Pranayama is the control of breathing, which soothes nerves, enhances endurance, tones the entire system, and provides essential core temperature maintenance. Breathing also strengthens the abdominal region; it is the foundation of all yoga practices. Pranayama helps yoga practitioners focus on subsequent yoga postures.
Meditation in yoga is very apparent in the corpse or savasana. In all yoga styles, this is the final pose achieved by lying flat, with eyes closed, and arms and legs spread from the center of the body. This position allows the body to rest and relax while keeping the mind in meditative state.
Because of its popularity, there are several yoga instructional videos available in the market aside from the ubiquitous yoga classes. One example of these is Judith Lasather’s Restful Yoga for Stressful Times. It provides several restorative yoga poses designed to replenish the mind and body, suggesting poses that can alleviate lower back pain, neck pain, headaches and insomnia, breathing difficulties, and jet lag. Other poses are beneficial for menstruating, pregnant, or menopausal women. “Living Your Yoga” section guides the reader in incorporating it into daily life.