What is Yoga?

Yoga means different things to different people.  For some it is an exercise that stretches and strengthens the body through various poses.  For others, yoga is the realization of inner self satisfaction.  Yet to others, it is a religion you should believe in and follow. All these different ideas concerning Yoga leaves you with this simple question.  What is yoga?
Yoga goes far beyond just mere exercises full of difficult poses.  It is the union of mind, body, and spirit.  The goal of yoga is to be free from worldly suffering and the cycle of reincarnation. Yoga entails mastery over the body, mind, emotional self, and transcendence of desire. Thus, leading to a gradual knowledge of the true nature of reality.
This ancient science is presently found in the Hindu philosophy and is used to attain spiritual insight and harmony.  The word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit “yeung”, which means to join.   It closely relates a yoke as used on oxen, but also the same root gives us “join”, “junction”, “junta”, “adjust”, and “joust” to name a few.
Yoga is comprised of many different types and schools which all have their own unique beliefs and practices.  Keep in mind that many more paths have been established with different variations that aren’t mentioned in this article.
The Five Most Common Yoga Practices 
HATHA: This is the most popular variety of yoga that has been taught been taught for years.  This form deals with the perfection of the mind by first perfecting the body.  To achieve this result, many asanas (postures), breathing techniques, and meditations are used.
ASHTANGA: This yoga is much faster than the other schools.  In this form, it is considered as an aerobic yoga in which quick and smooth transitions between poses are used.
KUNDALINI:This type focuses on awakening and kundalini energy.  Kundalini energy is the life energy that lies dormant in our bodies.  Its imagery is commonly represented by a coiled snake.
MANTRA:This type of yoga is focused on calming the mind and body through the use of words and sounds like the well-known ‘om’ chant.
TANTRA:This type of yoga is well known for its focus on sexual spirituality.  It also incorporates the kundalini energy although the intent for awakening it differs from the Kundalini practice.
As you can see, yoga is a very diverse discipline.  Regardless of which type you choose, people of all ages can gain many benefits from regular practice. 
Traditionally, yoga consists of eight fundamental paths: Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Purna Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Maha Yoga and Ashtanga or Raja Yoga.  In the west, the term yoga often refers to Hatha yoga and its postures, movements, and breathing techniques. 
For those who are unfamiliar with this ancient discipline, we offer a Beginner’s Yoga home study course.  It is designed to familiarize you with yoga so you can enjoy the wonderful benefits it has to offer you.   There is NO application required and NO enrollment fee!  Just purchase your course and start learning yoga.
If you want a break from treadmills, weight rooms, or the pool, try our yoga class.  Not only are you improving your physical body, you are refining your spiritual body as well.
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