Yoga is an ancient practice originating at least some five thousand years ago in India. The practice of yoga has evolved over thousands of years to suit different people of different life styles. Yoga works on all characteristics of the practitioner being the physical, emotional, psychic, spiritual and mental. There are many branches of yoga but the branch of yoga mostly practiced in the west is Hatha yoga.
Hatha yoga unifies mind, body and soul and enables the practitioner to achieve physical and mental well-being. The term Hatha originated from the words "ha" which means "sun" and "tha" which means "moon". It is often translated as the branch of Yoga that brings union of the pairs of opposites referring to the positive (sun) and negative (moon) currents in the system and energises the subtle channels (nadis).
Hatha Yoga mainly focuses on the third and fourth limbs of the Eight Limbs of Yoga; these being asana (yoga posture) and pranayama (breath control).
Benefits of yoga:
- Helps to relieve stress and stress related problems
- Teaches the practitioner ways of relaxation
- Enhances physical strength, stamina and flexibility
- Tones muscles which have become flaccid and weak
- Improves concentration and self control
- Helps in rehabilitation of old and new injuries
- Boosts functioning of the immune system
- Enhances posture and muscle tone
- Improves blood circulation
- Gives a healthy, glowing skin
- Cleanses and improves overall organ functioning. (Yoga asanas are probably the only form of activity that massages all of the internal glands and organs of the body)
- Gives peace of mind and a more positive outlook to life
- Instils a sense of balance and internal harmony