Practiced in India for over 6,000 years, yoga is a spiritual practice. The word “yoga” means “yoke together.” A perfect name for a practice that is meant to bring together the mind and the body as one.
While no one knows the exact date of origin or even who began practicing yoga first, there are some parts of the practice that date centuries.
The general term, “yoga” is often applied to the practice of postures as we know them; however, yoga is actually more a lifestyle. In fact, the postures are just one of the “Eight Limbs” of yoga.
Written by the sage Patanjali in his guidebook, the “Yoga Sutras,” the eight limbs should be followed by those interested in yoga, in order to live a moral, ethical life and achieve oneness with the universe.
In short the eight limbs are:
Yama: Universal morality
Niyama: Personal observances
Asanas: Body postures
Pranayama: Breathing exercises, and control of prana
Pratyahara: Control of the senses
Dharana: Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
Dhyana: Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
Samadhi: Union with the Divine
Typical yoga, as taught in classrooms in the United States, focuses on asanas, dharana, dhyana and pranayama.
Yoga first came to the United States in the late 1800s. Although it was practiced by some, yoga didn’t gain much popularity among the general population until in and around the 1960’s. Due to the its health benefits, it has become quite popular as a form of exercise, as well as a Yoga lifestyle.