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“Practicing yoga gave me a feeling of well-being that I wanted to share. I truly believe that yoga is the answer to so many problems in our world. It raises our consciousness, opens our hearts, and enables us to realize the innate compassion and love that exists in all of us.”
The word yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated. We can think of the union occurring between the mind, body and spirit.
What is commonly referred to as “yoga” can be more accurately described by the Sanskrit word asana, which refers to the practice of physical postures or poses. Asana is one of the eight “limbs” of yoga, the majority of which are more concerned with mental and spiritual well-being than physical activity.
Many people think that yoga is just stretching, while stretching is certainly involved, yoga is really about creating balance in the body through developing both strength and flexibility. This is done through the performance of poses or postures, each of which has specific physical benefits.
The amazing thing about yoga is that your practice is always evolving and changing. Although the poses themselves do not change, your relationship to them will. Anyone can start a yoga practice, even if you don’t feel like you are very flexible or very strong. These things will improve the longer you practice. Another great thing about your practice is that it encourages the noncompetitive spirit of yoga. The practice of yoga is liberating, a letting go of the ego and accepting that no one is better than anyone else. Everyone is just doing their best on any given day.
In addition to practicing the poses, yoga classes may also include instruction on breathing, meditation and call and response chanting depending on the individual teacher and yoga style in which the instructor is trained. Some people find that the physical practice of yoga becomes a gateway into spiritual exploration, while others just enjoy a wonderful workout that makes them feel great.