With its origins in ancient India, yoga first appeared in the western world in the late 19th and early 20th century. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that yoga as exercise began to take hold here in the United States. Because the discipline has such a long history, there are many different schools or variations of yoga.
With more than a thousand years of history, yoga is a physical, mental and, for some, a spiritual discipline that strengthens both the mind and body. Far from just a few minutes of stretching, the benefits of yoga are available to both beginners and the most practiced yogis. Learning and applying basic yoga techniques can improve strength, decrease levels of stress, increase levels of energy and even help manage chronic pain.
Prana means life force or energy. Prana is a Sanskrit word from the syllables “pra” and “an”. “Pra” means movement and “an” means constantly. So Prana, when broken down, means constant movement.
Prana is therefore a type of energy responsible for the body’s life, heat and maintenance.
Prana is typically divided into multiple constituent parts, in particular when concerned with the human body. While not all early sources agree on the names or number of these subdivisions, the most common five types of Prana:
- Prana (inward)
- Apana (outward)
- Vyana (circulation)
- Udana (energy of the head and throat)
- Samana (digestion and assimilation)
The ancient concept of Prana is described in many early Hindu texts, such as the Upanishads and Vedas. One of the earliest references to Prana is from the 3,000-year-old Chandogya Upanishad, but many other Upanishads also make use of the concept, including the Katha, Mundaka and Prasna Upanishads. The concept is elaborated upon in great detail in the practices and literature of haṭha yoga, tantra, and Ayurveda.
The practice of pranayama is used to balance the flow of prana within the body.
The word Prāṇāyāma comes from the Sanskrit words prāṇa and ayāma. Prana means “life force“, Yama means “expansion“. It refers to various techniques for accumulating, expanding and working with “Prana”.
In yoga, pranayama is a practice breathing techniques. Some pranayama techniques are designed to cleanse the energetic channels. They are called nadis allowing for greater movement of Prana. Other techniques are designed to reduce the breath to Samadhi, and bring awareness to specific areas of the physical body.
In ayurveda and therapeutic yoga pranayama may also be utilized for any number of tasks including to affect mood and aid in digestion.
The true meaning of Pranayama, according to Patanjali, the founder of Yoga philosophy, is “the gradual cessation of breathing, the discontinuance of inhalation and exhalation”.
The 5 Major Schools of Yoga
Here’s a list of 5 different types, or schools, of yoga disciplines;
- Prana yoga uses movement and breathing techniques to move energy throughout the body. Often translated as “aliveness,” prana, according to yogis who teach these techniques, is the non-physical energy streams that through and around the body.
- Bikram yoga (hot yoga) is a series of 26 different postures and two breathing exercises done over a period of 90 minutes in a room heated to 104 degrees with 40 percent humidity. This form of hot yoga is taught by certified instructors who received nine weeks of training by the creator of this discipline, Bikram Choudury. A 2013 study revealed that the benefits of Bikram yoga, in individuals who practiced three times a week for eight weeks, are an improvement in strength and flexibility, as well as the loss of a small percentage of body fat. Anyone with sensitivity to heat, however, should be cautious before attempting these classes.
- Face yoga is for anyone trying to stave off the toll that time takes on our…well, our faces. Advocates of this practice claim that exercising the muscles in the face prolongs the production of collagen and elastin, which keep our features from wrinkling. Critics, notably dermatologists, suggest that with the physiology of the skin, face yoga doesn’t make sense. Whether or not it keeps you looking young, people who regularly practice this discipline say that the techniques are very calming.
- Prenatal yoga as the name suggests, is for pregnant women only. Sorry, guys. According to the Mayo Clinic, restorative and Hatha yoga are the best choices for pregnant women. They also suggest avoiding hot yoga, speaking to your physician before taking yoga classes and always pacing yourself.
- Ramdev yoga or baba ramdev yoga is a collection of simple breathing techniques that individually take about five to ten minutes. It takes just about an hour to do all six breathing exercises one after the other for a full cycle.
20 Yoga Poses For Beginners
Yoga typically combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation or relaxation. Researchers are studying how yoga may be used to help improve health and to learning more about its safe use.
- Here are 20 yoga poses with links to the corresponding Youtube (short) video
|HAND TO KNEE||HAND TO TOE||COMPASS||PARTNER TO DANCER|
|FROG||HALF LORD OF FISH||HALF BOUND LOTUS||DOUBLE PIGEON|
|EAGLE||BRIDGE / WHEEL||CROW||CAMEL|
|HIGH LUNGE||BOAT||BIRD OF PARADISE||WHEEL|
Health Benefits of Yoga
Hot Yoga has may health benefits. It is done in a room heated to 104 degree Fahrenheit, so the warmer environment adds an added dimension to the Yoga experience. The 3 primary benefits of practicing Hot Yoga”:
Sweating while doing stretching and postures tends to remove toxins that might otherwise be difficult to detox from the body. The warmer atmosphere tends to make it easier to relax tense muscles and tendons. The warmer environment tends to help open up air passages and make breathing easier.
Weight Lose & Meditation
With regular practice and just a little discipline, yoga can help people lose weight and tone their bodies. Its meditative aspects inspire a calm sense of well-being that can carry into other aspects of life as well. Whether it’s to strengthen the body, to unplug from the stress of day-to-day life or to increase energy and focus, yoga is an effective mix of exercise and meditation.
Watch “Yoga For Beginners” Instructional Video
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