Intro to Yoga & the Myths
The Sanskrit word Yoga is often translated as “to join or yoke together.” It is a holistic, personal practice that joins body and mind together into one harmonious experience of being.
The ancient practice of Yoga can be traced to India, with origins dating back over 5,000 years. While Yoga was first “imported” to the United States as far back as the late 1800′s, it did not become widely known until the 1960′s, when more and more Americans woke up to the powerful healing benefits of a regular practice. As more and more Westerners began to take interest, yoga quickly gained acceptance and respect as a valuable tool for managing stress, improving well-being, and cultivating inner peace. Today, close to 11 million Americans are enjoying such benefits.
Most people erroneously regard Yoga as a mere exercise regimen; however, it is much more than mastering postures to increasing physical flexibility and strength. Through a consistent practice of yoga, an individual gains total well-being; not just physical, but mental and spiritual as well. The central motive for practice is to get in touch with your true self, which is ever peaceful and happy.
The common belief that Yoga derives from Hinduism, or that it is in any way a religion, is also a misconception. Yoga is nondenominational, and does not have a creed or fixed set of beliefs. Practicing Yoga will not interfere with any religion, though many spiritual practitioners find that it allows them to devote themselves further to their particular faith by creating personal health and harmony. Hatha Yoga is simply a sequence of breathing and posture techniques designed for just that.
Finally, while yoga is predominantly a physical practice, you do not need to be athletic or flexible to get started. Anyone can practice yoga asana, or posture — no matter how young or old, big or small, male or female. Body size and fitness level do not matter because there are modifications and styles of practice for every kind of person. While over time the practice of yoga can tone your body and increase flexibility, the idea is to safely explore your limits.