Yoga is a unified approach to self-development which is designed to balance and harmonize physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and well-being. While some practitioners of Yoga display extreme flexibility, the heart of Yoga is less dramatic and can be practiced by people of all ages and all levels. Yoga has its roots in the Hindu culture of India. However, the practice of Yoga is nonsectarian promoting health and harmonious living. The word “Yoga” means to join together” or “unite”. Thus, Yoga is a process of integrating and balancing body, mind and spirit. Many of us live in a disjointed manner as our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs struggle with each other creating frustration and confusion rather than fulfillment.

To achieve this union, Yoga combines physical postures, movements, mental concentration, deep breathing, meditation, relaxation and good nutrition. In practicing Yoga, the body is consciously moved with utmost care into various specific poses (asanas) accompanied by deep rhythmic breathing. The word “asana” comes from a word that means “easy”. The purpose of the posture is to bring you to “ease” in your body through a combination of stretching, holding, breathing, balance, resistance and mindfulness.

Various poses may help reduce and in some cases relieve various physical symptoms. These symptoms include arthritis, asthma, breathing disorders, back/neck problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, headaches, heart disease, infertility, insomnia, pain, PMS, menopause and weight management.

Yoga benefits both the external and internal physical body. Muscles develop tone and strength while flexibility, balance, coordination and energy levels are increased. Glands, nerves, tissues, internal organs and the nervous system are affected in a positive and healthy manner.

One of the muscles Yoga benefits is the heart. Increasing blood volume through the heart reduces blood pressure. Typically in the West we increase blood flow through aerobic exercise. However, certain inverted postures e.g. shoulder stands, and headstands cause more blood to pass through the heart when upside down. Other postures use and squeeze the muscles by crossing the legs, arching the back, kneeling and twisting. Using muscles in this manner demands oxygen from the blood and circulatory system. Yoga improves blood circulation bringing more oxygen and nutrients to every cell, tissue and organ. Poor circulation leads to under-oxygenated, malnourished, polluted cells and as a result poor organ function.

The poses, accompanied by deep breathing, stimulates regeneration and rejuvenation retarding the aging process. The manner in which these movements are performed is an essential element. Yoga is never goal-oriented, forceful, judgmental or competitive but rather a process or life-long journey. In essence, Yoga is a positive approach leading to enhanced fulfillment, self-awareness, peace and quality of life.