The next time you join a yoga class and all they promise you is Asanas for weight loss, sue them!
Yoga is much more than that.
It is a way of life. A form of spiritual liberation.
Before it became an effective form of physical exercise, Yoga was a revered way of life, originating from Hinduism and Buddhism. It is a pre-vedic form as the mention of Yogic practices reflect in the Rigveda. Among its most well-known types are Hatha and Rāja yoga.
The word originates from the sanskrit word yuj which means “to join”and multiple references suggest that it mean “to connect/combine” with (presumably) the divine.
The ultimate goal of yoga is moksha, i.e. salvation.
With limited knowledge of this deep spiritual form, it is necessary for us to understand it in its entirety. Let us look at 10 truths about Yoga (before it was commercialized to become an form of exercise)
1) There are 196 Yoga Sutras or aphorisms in the world.
2) It branches out into eight limbs. (Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyhara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi). The third limb/branch, “Asana,” refers to postures and poses which are now popularly synonymous with the word Yoga.
3) There are eight energy centers or “chakras” in the body through which we can absorb the cosmic energy. Yoga purifies these and ensures that positive life energy is constantly flowing. The chakras begin from the spin and span all the way till the head, named as mooladhara, svadhisthana, manipura, anahae ta, vishuddha, anja, bindu, and sahasrara, respectively.
4) Ancient yogis believed that man has limited number of breaths in this lifetime, therefore they practiced longer and deep breaths to stretch a lifetime.
5) According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva is considered to be the Adi Guru, or the first teacher of this art.
6) According to a Norwegian study, the asanas boost the immune system on a genetic level.
7) Practicing yoga has proved to improve relationships as the mind is relaxed and content.
8) Research has suggested that it improves social and occupational functioning in schizophrenic patients as well as people suffering from OCD.
9) Hatha yoga is most frequently practiced in Western culture. Ha means “sun” and tha means “moon,” representing hatha yoga’s attempt to combine both complementary forces. Eg: Hot/Heat Yoga
A great gift of yogis to generations since, yoga has to be practiced as a spiritual form and not just a weight loss technique.