Yoga is an ancient collection of spiritual, psychological, and physical practices or philosophies that originated in ancient India. It contains descriptions of yoga practices for each class of society (classical yogic, tantra, jnana, ashtanga, bhakti, etc. ), the development of consciousness (asanas), and meditation. Yoga is also one of the six classical philosophies of Hinduism.
Many of the asanas or postures of yoga are meant to improve your breathing. Ashtanga, a popular type of yoga, is focused on breathing deeply through pursed-lip, straight-leg forward bend (Pridalsha), extended arm (Pindasana), and other arenas that increase the oxygen intake through efficient breathing. These breathing techniques are perfect for those who need help with their breathing.
The mental balance of a person is enhanced through the perfecting of various breathing techniques and meditation. There are various asanas or positions in yoga that enhance both the physical and mental balance. For instance, sitting asana (inhaling) increases the spine’s capacity to store energy for later use, while other asanas such as lord of fishes (Paschimottanasan), balancing (Mastichari), walking (Dhodakanyana), head stand (upgradhipati), as well as twisting (Svadhyaya) help the body remain stable during movement and provide relief from stress. Another practice called pranayama (breath control) requires that you breathe slowly while keeping your eyes closed. You then have to follow asanas that calm your breathing and focus on your breathing techniques.
Power yoga is another popular form of yoga, especially for those practitioners who want to tone muscles and gain physical strength. Power yoga is practiced while performing asanas that require strength. It focuses on the asanas that are physically demanding and result in increased muscle power, an effect comparable to bodybuilding training. Since power yoga originates from Hatha yoga, power yoga also includes the beneficial effects of meditation, along with breathing control. Most Hatha yoga practitioners prefer power yoga over other forms because of the emphasis on the physical postures.
Modern yoga practitioners may consider themselves “yogi” or yogic in nature. A yogi is someone who practices yoga for the purpose of gaining power, knowledge and wisdom, through spiritual practice. Most modern yoga practitioners are not seriously committed to this idea, but merely enjoy the benefits that yoga has to offer, without considering themselves to be yogic in the strictest sense. While many modern yoga practitioners do not practice yoga seriously, yoga is still a great way to relax and achieve personal growth.
The practice of yoga is not limited to the asanas or specific postures. It also includes relaxation exercises, thought patterns, breathing techniques, and meditation. The benefits of yoga are not confined to physical exercise. Even the most mundane yoga poses can bring about improvements in mood, concentration, health, spirituality, flexibility and even weight loss.