Yoga was first experimented with in the US in the 1960’s and has steadily grown in popularity since. Approximately 30 million Americans practice Hatha yoga. Like many of the other alternative medicines, yoga promotes a whole-body approach to health and exercise. Unlike traditional medical practices yoga is a physical and mental discipline that uses posture-related techniques that involve gentle stretching, breath control and meditation. As patients delve more and more into the alternative medicine fields to cure their health problems the followers of acupuncture, chiropractic, meditation and yoga are growing at a rapid speed.
Yoga originated in India around 3300 BC. Much like many other practices in India, yoga is associated with philosophies of Hinduis, Buddhism and Jainism. Yoga has several meanings which are derived from Sanskrit, all of which can be correlated to traditional or modern day yoga, “to control”, “to unite”, “contemplation”, and “absorption”. The major branches of yoga include Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Hatha Yoga. Traditionally yoga was a ritual discipline of concentration with a goal of improving health to achieve Moksha, which is a release from worldly suffering.
Hatha yoga is the most commonly practiced type of yoga in US. Hatha yoga is what typical Americans refer to as yoga is used for mental and physical health. Americans consider yoga an alternative to exercise. Yoga is mental and spiritual well being brought about through physical postures and poses. It involves a connection between the mind and body through breathing. Yoga strengthens the muscles and stretches the body in order to calm the mind. Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility and decrease physical discomfort in the body.
Due to high stress levels in people’s lives, many turn to yoga to reduce this stress. Yoga is known for reducing stress and increased relaxation of both mind and body. However it has many other health benefits as well. Yoga has been known to help with people who suffer from lower back pain. Due to specific poses, yoga strengthens and stretches muscles, which can be effected by injuries. In addition people who suffer from high anxiety have seen improved results from yoga based on it’s calming of the mind and spirit. Now a days you can find classes for all different types of yoga and for people of all different ages. Most people who turn to yoga are either looking for a gentler way to exercise or a more holistic and spiritual way to reduce stress and relax. Try a beginners yoga class to see if this alternative exercise is right for you.
Sarah Labdar, “Yoga an Alternative Exercise”, Everyday Health