What is Yoga?
The word ‘yoga’ is derived from the word ‘yoke’ that an ox wears. In that same way, yoga ‘yokes’ your body to your mind. Every posture in a yoga class is a tool to help you relax your mind.
The link between the body and the mind is the breath. Breath work helps the person become more aware of their internal state and how to control it. Breathing is the most overlooked aspect of health, yet it is the most important.
As yoga became more popular in the West, the classes were modified to emphasize the physical benefits, of which there are many:
- Yoga builds strength and flexibility.
- It increases the blood flow to the organs, muscular and skeletal systems.
- The biodynamics of yoga help in the realignment of mechanical disorders like slipped disc, hiatal hernia, etc.
- Standing poses cause a natural traction to the spinal column, restoring the intrinsic strength of the muscles.
Each posture works on the inner body in a subtle way and at the same time is working on the mind. Holding a pose requires discipline of both body and mind. You are uniting action with attention.
In yoga, the mind is sometimes referred to as ‘monkey mind’. It literally jumps from thought to thought, with no control. With practice, you can shorten the time needed to achieve a meditative state.
The practice of yoga can have surprising results. Practitioners report
- Relief from panic and anxiety syndromes
- Elimination of the pain of sciatica
- Decrease in the frequency of irritable bowel syndrome
- Disappearance of lower back pain
- Relief from other symptoms usually associated with stress
By breathing deeply and doing breath exercises, you strengthen the diaphragm and intercostal muscles and activate the vagus nerve. This nerve is responsible for respiration, heart rate, blood pressure, acid reduction and feelings of well-being.