Contrary to what many people believe, yoga is not a meditation technique or a set of exercises. Yoga is a state of mind. It engages the person in the art of right and skillful living. Therefore yoga has also been described as a way of life. Yoga is when the mind is still, when churning thoughts have ceased and there are no distractions. This state of mind was sought through the practice of meditation, initially, thousands of years ago. Over the last 2000 years practices, other then meditation, were developed to help body and mind find that experience of stillness. These practices, particularly the physical postures (asanas) is the practice synonymous with yoga in the West.
Hatha yoga is known as a set or sequence of postures (known as asanas) designed to align, purify and heal the body. Asanas with the correct intention and attention to alignment redesign the body and could undo less than optimal patterns/habits we hold in our body. The postures are also designed to open the many energy channels of the body (think acupuncture map), especially the main one in the spine
called sushumna through which prana, or vital energy flows.
Hatha yoga comes in many varieties and traditions, like Lyengar yoga, Sivananda yoga, Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, Scaravelli yoga etc.
Ha meaning “sun” and tha meaning “moon”, Hatha yoga is often referred to as the yoga that brings union to pairs of opposites. Hatha yoga is first of all known for its physical efforts due to the concentrating on the practice of the postures (asanas) and breathing practices (pranayama) to energize the subtle nadis (72.000 energy channels)
Hatha yoga concentrates on the third and fourth step of the eight limbs of Yoga’s eight-fold path compiled by the sage Patanjali. These eight steps are not worked one by one, but can be explored and worked on together, on and off your mat! The last four steps are called Raja Yoga.
The eight steps are:
1) Yamas – codes of conduct in relation to others (including: Ahimsa – nonviolence, Asteya – nonstealing, Satya – , truthfulness, etc.)
2) Niyamas – personal obligations to live well (including: Tapas – self-discipline, Saucha – purity, Santosha – contentment, Svadyaya – self study, etc.)
3) Asanas – steady postures
4) Pranayama – breathing practices to control prana or vital energy
5) Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses
6) Dharana – concentration
7) Dhyana – meditation
8) Samadhi – super conscious state
This is just a very basic introduction to yoga in order not to bore you too much. There are many books written about the subject but the main thing to remember is this……………….FIND A CLASS AND START YOGA…
I hope to see you soon.