“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness” – Albert Einstein
Yoga comes from India and may be some 5,000 or 10,000 years old. It is a teaching which has been transmitted through word of mouth over this time. The originators of yoga may have been the first to question the nature of reality and to begin to understand the inner world.
The use of Yoga-practice in a modern world
In a rapidly changing world, with its numerous challenges and deadlines, practising yoga can become an anchor. Yoga has the capacity to enhance every aspect of your life in a systematic way.
Its teaching couldn’t be more relevant in the modern world; it is by connecting with all aspects of our lives (e.g. family, environment, work and friends) that we cultivate a sense of global sensitivity and happiness within our communities.
What can I expect from yoga?
On a practical level, yoga is one of the quickest forms to connect your body and your brain. With regular yoga practice, you will find that all the little pains you used to have in the body rapidly subsiding and a sense of well-being emerging.
On a spiritual level, the benefits of yoga are limitless – as you progress in your practice your understanding will grow and you will reap its benefit. Practice deepens your knowledge of yourself and of others; adding perspective to your life and letting the best version of you emerge.
More than just exercise
The aim of yoga is to achieve the union of different aspects of your life. This is done through daily practice that includes focus on body, mind and spirit. Through this practice you bring balance into your life and your interactions with the world.
The word ‘Yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ meaning to join or to unite. Yoga originated in ancient India, and is considered to be one of six philosophical schools in the Hindu tradition.
While there are different methodologies in yoga, they all relate to an ancient philosophical text called The Yoga Sutra. The Yoga Sutra, written by Patanjali some 2200 years ago is a set of 196 aphorisms describing our inner path towards freedom and happiness.
The practice of Asanas (postures) is the most common form of Yoga practice in the western world: the body, breath and postures become the “working environment” of our evolution.
The Yoga Sutra remains as a philosophical backdrop, helping us to be reminded of the ultimate aims of our practice: union and liberation.
The effects of yoga-asanas
The effects of asanas are profound; they impact physical, physiological and mental wellbeing. There are six major categories of poses (and some subcategories), each of them creates a specific effect – here are a few examples:
Standing poses: create the right balance between strength and flexibility in your muscles, bones and joints. Warming and energising – they increase your metabolic rate and correct postural deficiencies.
Backbends: improve your cardiovascular system and are excellent for minor spinal defects. Their practice is exhilarating – they give self-confidence as well as a sense of expansion.
Forward-bends: induce a restful state in your inner organs and nervous system. Introspective by nature, they are invaluable for stress-related conditions.
Inverted poses: are energy givers – they regenerate your body, mind and soul in a very efficient way. Inverted poses are precious to recover from fatigue, exhaustion, illness etc.
Twist: are a boon for your spine, neck and shoulder – twists generate heat and are great detoxifiers.
Restorative poses: by approaching the body in a passive way, you can create openings in a soft manner – good for exhaustion, stress-related conditions and for an overloaded nervous system.
As you move along the yogic-path, you will start to recognise these specific reactions in your own body and understand the internal logic of yoga.