The word "yoga" comes from the Sanskrit root "yuj", which means "to yoke" the spirit and physical body together. From what I can tell, the yoga I am practicing is hatha yoga which traditionally is a holistic path that includes disciplines, physical postures, purification procedures, breathing, and meditation. Yoga is really a way of life. Our yoga instructor always talks about how there is a personal practice which takes place on the mat, then there is our interactions with those around us, and then the effects we have in the world on a global scale.
The many benefits of yoga can improve different aspects of life. Physical benefits include improved overall health, flexibility, stamina, improved balance, increased strength, pain prevention, better breathing, improved digestion, and increased blood circulation. Mental benefits include stress relief, mental calmness, body awareness, and increased self acceptance. The list could go on and on. Plus, yoga is for everyone be it men or women or from young children to the elderly.
This has been the first form of exercise I have ever actually looked forward to going to. It has certainly made a difference in our lives. I have begun feeling physical changes regarding strength and flexibility. Brad has had amazing success with pain prevention for a shoulder injury the medical doctor wasn't able to do anything for. What I really crave though before practicing yoga is the mental calmness. I find that there are so few instances in our busy lives where we carve out time to be calm and introspective.
I think that Donna Farhi describes it beautifully in her book Yoga Mind, Body, and Spirit here:
But the slowness of this path is part of the healing. It is part of finding one's place in the rhythm of life again. This reunification with nature lies at the heart of the true healing power of yoga practice. Through that practice we can become peaceful, we can experience ease with ourselves and others, and ultimately we can create a society that values such things. Then as we advance in our yoga practice, we will realize that however far we go, we are always in the process of returning to this natural self.Have you had any experience with yoga? What form of exercise do you enjoy?