What is yoga?
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning union. It is an ancient system of physical and psychic practice that originated during the Indus Valley civilization in South Asia. The first written records of this methodology appeared around 200 BC in Yogasutra of Patanjali. The system consists of the eightfold path, or Asthangayoga. A contemporary interpretation of yoga describes yoga as a systematic practice aimed at developing harmony in the body, mind, and environment.
How is yoga different from meditation?
Meditation (dhyana) is a part of total yoga practice. Yoga is composed of eight basic principles.
- Rules for living in society (Yama)
- Self-restraining rules (Niyama)
- Low physical impact postures (Asana)
- Breathing techniques (Pranayama)
- Detachment of the mind from senses (Pratihara)
- Concentration (Dharana)
- Meditation (Dhyana)
- Complete union with super consciousness (Samadhi)
Do I have to practice all of the principles of yoga to benefit from it?
Not necessarily. Each principle has the potential to lead a person toward harmony in self and society. Rules for living in society and self-restraining rules help in regulating the functioning of the human being, giving balance in life. Low physical impact postures (asana) and relaxation help in removing the stress in the mind and strain in the body, thereby augmenting balance within and with environment. Breathing techniques help in improving oxygen flow and giving balance in life. Detachment of the mind from the senses, concentration, meditation, and complete union with a super consciousness are also called inner yoga and help in restoring balance of mind with surroundings. The ultimate purpose of yoga is balance that leads to self-realization.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/28/2016
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