Yoga: A Natural Prescription
The focus of my work is helping others create a healthy balance in their day-to -day life. And yes, I personally struggle with the same stress, pressure, and "not having enough time in the day to squeeze it all in" as everyone else. The day-to-day wear and tear of our demanding lifestyles takes its toll on all of us. Our bodies can put up with it only for so long until our stress manifests as a physical or emotional problem.
One of the first steps in managing stress is to become aware of it. How many times at the end of the day do you sit back and think about how you felt during the day? Did you feel rushed? Tired? Angry? Over-whelmed? Frustrated? Just plain cranky? Recognizing your feelings is a huge step on the path to controlling them. Learning to use yoga, breathing, and meditation as remedies helps me stay in balance avoiding stress and all its negative side effects. If you learn how to incorporate these practices into your life, they can give your body the opportunity to perform as the amazing machine that it is.
History of yoga
Yoga is thought to be around 5,000 years old. The ancient Indian language of Sanskrit defines the word Yoga as meaning to "join up" or to "yoke." It is this yoking or union of the body, mind, and spirit that brings us closer to our own true nature. Yoga came to the western world in the 1960s. It has gained increasing popularity, especially in the past decade. According to Yoga Journal, 15 million people practice yoga in America today. The benefits of this ancient practice explained below reflect why the wave of enthusiasm has arrived.
More than the mat
The five main principles of hatha yoga are proper relaxation, exercise and breathing, diet, positive thinking, and meditation. In the practice of yoga, you become more aware of your body and more in touch physically and emotionally. It involves simple things, such as noticing how you hold your body's posture or what you ate and how it made you feel. It becomes a holistic way of caring for your body and enhances a feeling of well-being and self-esteem. It is a discipline that teaches concentration, encouraging the mind to focus on one thing and thus bringing a greater sense of clarity. A master of yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar says, "The light that yoga sheds on life is something special. It is transformative. It does not change the way we see things; it transforms the person who sees. It brings knowledge and elevates it to wisdom."
For me, yoga is much more than the time spent on my mat. It is about "living" my yoga, which means incorporating these principles into my everyday life and experiences. It is the linking, the "yoking" of body and mind, allowing me to connect with the divine spark inside me, letting me flow with the spirit of God. Then I am truly practicing yoga.
What is Hatha Yoga?
Although there are many different styles of yoga, nearly all styles grow from similar roots grounded in Hatha yoga. In Sanskrit "HA" means sun and "THA" means moon. Hatha represents the duality in life, such as ying and yang or darkness and light. Hatha is the yoga of balancing these opposing forces. It is the yoga of physical well being. Hatha yoga uses postures, breathing, and meditation to purify the mind, body, and spirit.
Communion with spirit
In my personal practice, the physical yoga asana (posture) leads me to a quiet, still space where a communion with spirit is easier. For me, this is the true essence of yoga. It is an interconnectedness that gives my body permission to be in a state of freedom. It is a true well-being, a state of healing. Making this connection fills me up. It gives me more than energy; it generates a steadiness for maneuvering the shallow and deep, the rocky and smooth, the fast and slow currents of this river called life.