The word Yoga means union, joining, or to link together as one whole. Yoga is the art and science of resolving the inherent opposition in all things to create a union of body, mind and spirit.
The paths to achieve Yoga, or to realise Yoga are many. There are many types of yoga and each type of yoga has many styles. Essentially all the activities of yoga can be divided into two parts – Physical Yoga and Non-Physical Yoga.
Physical Yoga, which consists of physical Exercises (Asana) and breath control (pranayama), is often thought of as a static or slow moving type of stretching and relaxation. However, it can also include strenuous exercises that tone muscles, tension (stretch) nerves and stimulate the cardiovascular system. Physical Yoga can be very fast and may include repetitive exercises that resemble western style exercise and gymnastics. Physical Yoga can also manipulate internal organs and modify blood chemistry.
Non-physical Yoga, which consists of ethical disciplines, relaxation and meditative practices, can help to expand one’s mind, explore one’s emotions, and develop the relationships between oneself and the rest of the world.
In the 21st century, yoga is used to develop and maintain physical and mental health. The concept of using yoga as a therapy for the body and mind is not new. Yoga as a therapy had its first probable mention dating back to the second century BC. However, to really justify the validity of yoga as a time-honoured exercise system that benefits the body, mind and spirit, the best evidence available comes from the millions of people around the world who have practised yoga throughout the ages, and who continue to practice because of the positive benefits that can be obtained.
Yoga can be practised by oneself, in class sessions or becoming more popular recently, at retreats.