Some call it philosophy, some just a fitness program, for others it is whole religion. And all of the descriptions contain one name-Yoga. For full understanding of the conception of Yoga you would really need to spend time for that: attend classes, listen and try to feel it on your body and soul. Yoga first of all teaches how to find a harmony in yourself and make body and the mind a unit.

History of Yoga

Introducing you to Yoga here is a little bit of history. Its routs lay down in India. The first mentioning of practicing Yoga is dated back six to seven thousand years ago. It is found in Rig Veda (a collection of oldest scriptures of Hinduism canticles which are dedicated to the Gods) and more detailed information source is known as Upanisads (the part of Vedas – main scriptural texts of Hinduism). It was a new understanding of what man can do that is to say that he together with the mind training and moral culture can become one with the Supreme Being. This conception strives to emphasize the importance of individual’s mind which can help person achieve the appropriate state of it.

The word Yoga it self means, “to unite”. As follows, Yoga in general is a union of mind and body. From the deeper view, it is an individuals union with The Divine through the conjunction of body, mind and soul. Yoga is a man’s journey towards perfection. Modern Yoga has these traditional parts: postures to keep the body fit, introduction to ethical principles, breathing exercises and meditation. Speaking about the goals of Yoga they are different. For some people it is the way to be closer to God. Buddhism claims that Yoga might make deeper your wisdom and compassion. In simple terms it strives for the simple happiness. Isn’t that what everybody wants?

Basic yoga principles

The five principles of Yoga are proper exercise (asanas), breathing (pranayama), relaxation (savasana), vegetarian diet, positive thinking (vedanta) and meditation. Some words about each of them. Probably everyone is familiar with the so called strange and seems impossible postures of Yoga practitioners. To let you know it is not just a package of fitness exercises. It is a developed culture of physical moves. Actually, the term asanas itself means steady pose. According to that during Yoga practice all the posses are held for some time.  It helps to develop your body flexibility and strength especially it is good for your spine.

Yoga class

While taking Yoga classes you will be taught to breathe in particular way. It is a full breathing bringing the air to the lowest part of the lungs. It is slow and deep. It is thought that such breathing controls prana – the energy of the breath. In this the body is depurated from negative thoughts and stress.

Relaxation is an important part of person’s life. Seems it is forgotten. Modern society wastes too much energy trying to relax. That’s why Yoga says: do not let your anger and anxiety ruin the energy you accumulate. Yoga teaches physical, mental and spiritual relaxation. Though it is called physical relaxation it is closely involved with mind. Together with thoughts you can help every muscle of your body to relax. Having mental strain breath slowly for a few minutes and soon you mind will go loosened. The highest level of relaxation is when reaching the one of spiritual sense by reaching a pure consciousness. The Yoga diet is vegetarian. It consist only natural food which helps to promote health. Why vegetarian you would ask. Sun is the source of energy for the planet and what grows on it. Animals which eat the plant and are eaten by others are of “second hand” value. That is why vegetarian products are most beneficial. As it is believed that the food we eat has an effect on our mind it is recommended to consume the products which keeps the mind calm. Yoga practitioners avoid meat, fish,eggs, onions, coffee, tea, and alcohol.

Positive thinking and meditation can take you to perfect concentration where doesn’t exist time or space. Where peace and happiness exist. This is the mind’s journey towards quiet mind and beyond it. As meditation is a separate topic and basically a deep and broad one here it will not be discussed.

Yoga paths

Last thing to mention is Yoga paths. There is Karma Yoga or the so called Yoga of Action or Service. It is based on the principle that all your actions now are a result of actions in the past. So if you try to behave selfless, with no negativity you will affect your future the same way. Bhakti Yoga or Yoga of Devotion is the main path followed in India. It leads to the heart and devotion, to God. Jnana Yoga or Yoga of knowledge or wisdom considers the knowledge and intellect very important to keep the mind open to other religions. Raja Yoga or Yoga of self control teaches to control the body, mind and spirit (usually through meditation).Hatha Yoga is Yoga of postures which was presented in the beginning. Tantra Yoga or Yoga of rituals is well known for one part of it – sex. Through Tantra Yoga you will learn to find sacred sides in everything we do.

Yoga positions

Yoga positions or the so called Yogasanas are the part of Yoga philosophy. Some use the term exercises which is not absolutely correct. During exercises main thing is to move your muscles while during Yoga positions individuals try to achieve steady pose.

Probably you would be interested in how many such positions there exist. Well nobody could give you the right answer as there are many of the states your body can get into. In general positions are divided into standing, sitting, supine and prone. There will be given two examples of each position for you to get an idea.

Standing yoga positions

One of the standing positions is a tree pose (vrikshasana).Steps to achieve it: feel the weight on all for corners of your  feet, take your hands from the sides and raise above the head with the palms joined together. Then begin to stand on your toes and with the raised hands pull the whole body upwards as much as possible and try to keep the balance. It helps to remove the strains.

Half moon pose (ardha chandrasana) is beneficial for ankles, thighs and improves your balance as well. From the standing pose bring your left hand to your hip and the right hand to the floor with the fingertips on the floor. While straightening the right foot kick the left foot up, make it straight and horizontal to the floor tows looking forward. Then feeling balanced enough raise the left arm towards the ceiling making the line with the right hand. Lastly look towards your left hand fingertips. The same is done with the left side.

Sitting yoga positions

The one interesting and challenging sitting pose is monkey pose (hanumasana). It will help you to pull out your groins and keep your legs strong. In order to make it sit kneeling with your thighs vertical to the floor. Pull the right leg straight to the front with the heels on the floor. Begin to slide your left leg behind you. Keep your hips looking forward. Be careful and let your self come down as far as it is comfortable. In other way you can strain your tendons.

Another one to mention is the lotus pose (padmasana). It a Yoga classic pose which is known probably to everyone. It is called so as the legs look like blooming lotus. In the sitting position spread both your legs and keep at a distance of twelve inches. Then bend your left leg in knee and put its toe on the right thigh, do the same with another leg. Also keep your wrists on the appropriate legs.

Supine yoga positions

Speaking about the supine positions one of the well known is legs up the wall (viparitakarani). Lying down begin to raise your legs till you reach the angle of 90 degrees. Then raise your waist pushing the legs backwards. With the help of hands (elbows are placed on the floor) straighten the legs and make the finger toes look to the ceilings. Precautions should be taken for people having heart or high blood pressure problems.

Fish pose (matsyantsana) makes your chest and throught open. In the supine position spread your legs and make them like in lotus pose. With the elbows placed on the floor raise your head and put the top of it on the floor. At the same time hog your back making the shape of the arch and keep the toes with your arms.

Prone yoga positions

The two last examples will reflect the prone position. Vajrasana position is good for your digestive system as creates the pressure in the abdominal area what results in its better functioning. For this position place your both hands back and lock only with the thumbs. Then bend the waist and put your forehead on the floor.

The simple and relaxing one is astashirasana position. You need to bend forward in waist and put your palms on the jaws. In all the positions don’t forget to breath normally and make all the moves slowly.

Yoga clothes are important for feeling good at the time of positions. There are basically no special requirements except clothes have to be comfortable, fit you right, they need to absorb sweat and look good on you.