Benefits of Yoga
The benefits of yoga are numerous and specific to each individual. Some of these benefits include:
- Reduced stress & tension
- Improved sleep quality
- Increased muscle strength & flexibility
- Awareness of breath, body, mind & spirit
- Greater Spiritual awareness
- Decreased pain – both physical & emotional
- Improved posture
What is Yoga?
Yoga is many things to many people. Yoga is an ancient practice, which originated in India and dates back thousands of years (2800 BCE) Translated in English, yoga means union – a union of the body, mind and spirit. It is an art, a philosophy and a science. It’s art in that we are moving our bodies into beautiful postures. It’s a philosophy in that it gives us guidelines on how to live our lives. And it is a science in that it helps to heal the body and the mind.
It is believed that yoga in the West is going through a period of transition. We are trying to adapt this ancient practice to suit our western lifestyle and belief structures. For most of us, it’s not possible to head off to an ashram indefinitely, studying with gurus. (Not that there’s anything wrong with this approach either. Life presents different choices to all of us.) We’re just trying to feel a little less stressed, have a healthier, more active lifestyle, and maybe experience the mind-body connection everyone is talking about. We want to figure out how to live our lives more fully, to experience life as a celebration of love, right here, right now.
Only you are to know what yoga means to you. No one can tell you what you “should” be feeling or experiencing. And to know this, you must experience it. One of yoga’s greatest gifts is the gift of awareness; and through practice, you will gain greater awareness of your self, your body, your breath and your spirit. Yoga, by its very nature, draws you inward, regardless of the reason you came to the mat.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content or as an end in itself.
The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity.
The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs. Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health concerns, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. It may be done sitting, or in an active way—for instance, Buddhist monks involve awareness in their day-to-day activities as a form of mind-training. Prayer beads or other ritual objects are commonly used during meditation in order to keep track of or remind the practitioner about some aspect of that training.
Meditation may involve generating an emotional state for the purpose of analyzing that state—such as anger, hatred, etc.—or cultivating a particular mental response to various phenomena, such as compassion. The term “meditation” can refer to the state itself, as well as to practices or techniques employed to cultivate the state. Meditation may also involve repeating a mantra and closing the eyes. The mantra is chosen based on its suitability to the individual meditator. Meditation has a calming effect and directs awareness inward until pure awareness is achieved, described as “being awake inside without being aware of anything except awareness itself.” In brief, there are dozens of specific styles of meditation practice, and many different types of activity commonly referred to as meditative practices.