Often associated with Hinduism, yoga actually is older. It is the oldest physical discipline in existence. The exact origins of yoga are unknown, but it is thought to be at least five thousand years old. The earliest evidence of yoga can be traced back to about 3000 B.C. The original purpose of the postures and breathing exercises was to bring stability and relaxation so practitioners could prepare for the rigors of meditation, sitting still and alert for long periods of time.
The word yoga has its roots in the Sanskrit language and means to merge, join or unite. Yoga is a form of exercise based on the belief that the body and breath are intimately connected with the mind. By controlling the breath and holding the body in steady poses, or asanas, yoga creates harmony. Yoga is a means of balancing and harmonizing the body, mind and emotions and is a tool that allows us to withdraw from the chaos of the world and find a quiet space within. To achieve this, yoga uses movement, breath, posture, relaxation and meditation in order to establish a healthy, vibrant and balanced approach to living.
Modern scholars have defined yoga as the classical Indian science that concerns itself with the search for the soul and the union between the individual, whose existence is finite, and the Divine, which is infinite.
Yoga is one of the original concepts which today would be labeled as holistic. That means that the body is related to the breath; both are related to the brain; in turn this links with the mind, which is a part of consciousness.
The essence of yoga is to be in the driver’s seat of life. Control is a key aspect of yoga: control of the body, breath and mind.
The secret of yoga practice lies in a simple but important word: balance. In every area of our life, yoga represents balanced moderation. (http://www.yogaforbeginners.com/basics01.htm)
Can I do yoga?
Yes! There are so many different types of yoga classes. There is sure to be a class fitted for you that you will fall in love with! Here is a cheat sheet with a few major types of yoga:
Developed by American yogi John Friend in 1997, anusara yoga is a relative newcomer to the yoga world. Based on the belief that we are all filled with an intrinsic goodness, anusara seeks to use the physical practice of yoga to help students open their hearts, experience grace, and let their inner goodness shine through. Classes, which are specifically sequenced by the teacher to explore one of Friend’s Universal Principles of Alignment, are rigorous for the body and the mind.
Ashtanga is based on ancient yoga teachings, but it was popularized and brought to the West by Pattabhi Jois (pronounced “pah-tah-bee joyce”) in the 1970s. It’s a rigorous style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures and is similar to vinyasa yoga, as each style links every movement to a breath. The difference is that ashtanga always performs the exact same poses in the exact same order. This is a hot, sweaty, physically demanding practice.
Approximately 30 years ago, Bikram Choudhury developed this school of yoga where classes are held in artificially heated rooms. In a Bikram class, you will sweat like you’ve never sweated before as you work your way through a series of 26 poses (like ashtanga, a Bikram class always follows the same sequence, although a Bikram sequence is different from an ashtanga sequence). Bikram is somewhat controversial, as Choudhury has trademarked his sequence and has prosecuted studios who call themselves Bikram but don’t teach the poses exactly the way he says they should. It is also wildly popular, making it one of the easiest types of classes to find.
Hatha yoga is a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. Nearly every type of yoga class taught in the West is hatha yoga. When a class is marketed as hatha, it generally means that you will get a gentle introduction to the most basic yoga postures. You probably won’t work up a sweat in a hatha yoga class, but you should end up leaving class feeling longer, looser, and more relaxed.
5. Hot Yoga
Basically the same thing as Bikram. Generally, the only difference between Bikram and hot yoga is that the hot yoga studio deviates from Bikram’s sequence in some small way, and so they must call themselves by another name. The room will be heated, and you will sweat buckets.
Iyengar yoga was developed and popularized by B.K.S. Iyengar (pronounced “eye-yen-gar”). Iyengar is a very meticulous style of yoga, with utmost attention paid to finding the proper alignment in a pose. In order to help each student find the proper alignment, an Iyengar studio will stock a wide array of yoga props — blocks, blankets, straps, chairs, bolsters, and a rope wall are all common. There isn’t a lot of jumping around in Iyengar classes, so you won’t get your heart rate up, but you’ll be amazed to discover how physically and mentally challenging it is to stay put. Iyengar teachers must undergo a comprehensive training – if you have an injury or chronic condition, Iyengar is probably your best choice to insure you get the knowledgeable instruction you need.
Restorative yoga is a delicious way to way to relax and soothe frayed nerves. Restorative classes use bolsters, blankets, and blocks to prop students in passive poses so that the body can experience the benefits of a pose without having to exert any effort. A good restorative class is more rejuvenating than a nap. Studios and gyms often offer them on Friday nights, when just about everyone could use a little profound rest.
Vinyasa (pronounced “vin-yah-sah”) is the Sanskrit word for “flow”, and vinyasa classes are known for their fluid, movement-intensive practices. Vinyasa teachers choreograph their classes to smoothly transition from pose to pose, and often play music to keep things lively. The intensity of the practice is similar to Ashtanga, but no two vinyasa classes are the same. If you hate routine and love to test your physical limits, vinyasa may be just your ticket. (http://life.gaiam.com/article/beginners-guide-8-major-styles-yoga).
Naturally Organic Healing Center Offers Yoga Classes!
Ashtanga Yoga w/ Carrie; Monday-Friday 7:30 to 9am; $15 Per Class
Mysore, named after the energetic city in South India, is the traditional approach to Ashtanga yoga where the practitioner receives one-on-one instruction of breath and movement as they move through a sequence of postures. When you do not know what you are doing next, your attention will always be on your teacher, taking the focus off of yourself. In this class, the student memorizes the sequence of postures and develops self-practice allowing each one to focus internally, bringing a great depth of awareness, clarity, and internal strength. Through the focus on Drishti (looking point) and correct use of breath and movement (vinyasa), this method guides the practitioner to a deep meditative state. This practice does not favor the physically strong and will not shadow any weak spots in the practitioner. Come any time between the 7-9 a.m. time frame giving yourself enough time to practice. The opening chant starts at 7:40 a.m.