Statistically speaking, you have probably taken a yoga class.
Hatha, Vinyasa, Bikram, Ashtanga, Anusara, Kundalini, Iyengar, yoga is everywhere.
To date, yoga is the fastest growing “exercise class” and one of the most rapidly expanding businesses in the country. Utter the word “yoga” and people think of impossible physical postures. But yoga is more than exercises, a class or even a series of postures. The word “yoga” literally means “union.”
What does union mean?
Who is Yoga?
Yoga is Shiva. Several seals dating back to the third millennium BC depict figures in positions resembling common yoga or meditation poses. There is a recorded history of yogic lore dating back over 15,000 years. The Hindu deity Shiva is seen as the first yogi. Depending on the level of preparedness of the person sitting in front of him, Shiva expounded various ways to evolve oneself physically and mentally. This happened at the banks of Kantisarovar at Kedarnath, India. This was the world’s first yoga program.
Yoga is John, Paul, George and Ringo. In the late 19th century, Indian yogis began moving to Western countries to extend their teachings. In 1965, The Beatles were introduced to founder of Sivandana Yoga and pictures of the world’s favorite pop band in traditional Indian garb were front-page news. By the 1980s, research began connecting yoga to heart health, legitimizing it as a purely physical system of health exercises and disconnecting it from religious denomination and outside counter culture or esotericism circles. Postures became modern in origin and the practice began to strongly overlap with Western exercise traditions.
Yoga is Madonna. Last year Americans spent $27 Billion on yoga and its related products. The number of people who practice some form of yoga has grown from four million, in 2001, to 20 million in 2011. There are a slew of celebrities that credit yoga for everything from their screen-ready bodies to their mental health. There are now over 30,000 yoga facilities and an estimated 131,000 yoga teachers in the U.S., with more yoga studios per square mile in Los Angeles than anywhere else in the world. Modern research shows yoga to be beneficial for everything from heart disease to arthritis. Practice increases brain GABA levels and has been shown to improve mood, anxiety and schizophrenia. There has even been an emergence of studies investigating yoga as a complementary intervention for cancer patients.
Yoga is Me (and it can be you too!). Yoga is a disciplined method utilized for attaining a goal. The meaning of yoga is in the hands of the practitioner; the purpose of yoga depends on the philosophical or theological system with which you conjugate it.
I took my first yoga class in 2002. It was at a gym in Orange County and focused purely on getting my body in shape. Since then yoga and I have formed a lasting and meaningful relationship. In sickness and health, for richer and for poorer, yoga has always been there. Yoga is postures by my bedside at night when I cannot sleep and yoga is a butt kicking work out at a fancy gym in 110-degree heat.
Yoga does it all!
Yoga definitely creates big positive changes in people’s physicality and mentality but these are only the side effects of yoga. The real thing about yoga is, it is an exact science and a properly charted-out technology as to how you can move from one dimension of existence to another, from one level of experience of life to another. Yoga is to engineer your system in such a way that it moves towards its ultimate possibility.
Yoga has evolved and changed through time and space for millennium but you don’t have to wait for a million years to evolve! If you are willing, you can evolve today, right now.
This is yoga.
Madison Canary has a hard time taking life seriously. Years as a professional ballerina brought her to Yoga which inspired her to start Yoga N Motion, a company focusing on injury rehabilitation and performance optimization for professional athletes and performers. Movement mentor, dancer, yogini, performer, healer, instructor, writer, lover, ASL interpreter, mover, shaker, surfer. She soon hopes to add runner to this list and hopes you will find her on Facebook so you can be friends.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel