The significance and background of yoga
We know how crucial movement is for our bodies. We have also previously heard that “breathing can solve everything,” that something (or someone) “astounds us,” and that we must take a deep breath when someone irritates us. This renowned breathing (although we consider it a given) is incredibly significant in calming the mind and overcoming daily stress.
Yoga is a physical activity, a technique, or even a way of life that allows us to seek equilibrium – both on the mat and in our everyday lives – through coordinated movement and breathing.
Body positions in yoga (known as asanas) cleanse internal organs, relieve muscle and joint tension, and maintain their health, strength, and flexibility throughout our lives. Yoga prevents joint deterioration, resulting in pain, and the development of certain rheumatic conditions. Asanas also have a psychophysical impact by healing and harmonizing the energetic and mental aspects, of the emotional state and influencing overall well-being and contentment.
By engaging in exercises that stretch and strengthen muscles, we promote the flow of oxygen throughout the body, all the way to the brain, enhancing concentration and work productivity. A positive outcome (not the primary objective!) of regular asanas is increased flexibility of the body and mind. The original purpose of yoga is, in fact: “directing thoughts exclusively towards one object and persisting in that direction without any diversion” (TKV Desikačar). The true or primary aspiration of yoga is meditation.
The asanas we practice during yoga are crucial in this context, primarily because they prepare our bodies for extended periods of meditation: enabling us to sit in peace and without discomfort, and eventually gain control over the mind and thoughts through the control of the body.
Yoga in India
initially originated in India and was exclusively practiced by a select few. Additionally, during that time, there were no yoga instructors. An individual from a specific caste, who would later join monks and leave behind their family, work, and life, had a guru from an early age who taught them about life, meditation, and yoga. The guru would assign tasks that may seem futile and time-consuming to us, such as observing a lake all day and tracking one’s thoughts and their direction.
A more “active” form of yoga (as we currently know it) was practiced by members of the warrior class – this is where the well-known sun salutation originates from.
During the sun salutation (SURYA NAMASKAR – Surya means sun, and namaskar is salutation), a sequence of 12 asanas (body positions) is performed, flowing seamlessly into one another and synchronized with breathing. It is a great way to awaken and greet every muscle in the morning.
Subsequently, yoga, primarily consisting of various demanding body positions, began to be adopted in the Western world as well. Due