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Yoga in Sanskrit means Union, a union between you and all aspects of your life.We should all take a moment to appreciate who we are in this life and instead of expectations develop gratitude. Before we start to do yoga physically we must prepare ourselves mentally and realize that a very big part of yoga is breathing and creating the freedom in our body with very basic yoga movements. Yoga is a time for us to be in stillness. It’s very important to create a discipline within ourselves to find that time for meditation and being mindful not to give into our urges

SI NEWS – TORONTO

In these challenging times of covid-19 lockdown we have all had time to reflect on the choices we’ve made in life as well as our physical and mental health. As I went down my memory lane it came to my mind when I was 16 my girlfriend who just returned from the Middle East where she was staying for a year with her parents who worked there in the medical profession. I noticed something different about her and she shared a book with me which she received from an 80 year old man who despite his age was youthful, strong and still working. His secret was yoga that he practiced every day and he shared the book with her “Hatha Yoga For Everyone” which she passed to me upon her arrival. I was very inspired by this book which changed my outlook on life. In the book there were pictures of a variety of yoga poses which are called asanas with accompanying descriptions and benefits attributed to each pose. They appeared to look impossible to achieve and perform properly. However I was so fascinated and determined to achieve mastery over each of the poses and could not wait to awaken every morning to do my practice. Everyday I was able to go deeper and deeper into the poses. It gave me pleasure of achieving and feeling so much focus , flexibility and strength. Practicing yoga made me feel elevated and transformed. It truly changed my outlook on life.

So what is Yoga?
In brief …It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation. Aside -from  Hatha Yoga that I was introduced to there are many other branches of yoga such as :
Kundalini Yoga.
Vinyasa Yoga. …
Hatha Yoga. …
Ashtanga Yoga. …
Power Yoga. …
Restorative Yoga. …
Prenatal Yoga. …
Aerial Yoga…
Iyengar Yoga…,and more .

The practice of Yoga is believed to have started with the very dawn of civilization. The science of yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religions or belief systems were born. In theyogic lore, Shiva is seen as the first yogi or Adiyogi, and the first Guru of Adi Guru.
Yoga comes out of an oral tradition in which the teaching was transmitted directly from teacher to student. The original context of yoga was spiritual development practices to train the body and mind to self observe and become aware of their own nature. The purposes of yoga were to cultivate discernment, awareness, self-regulation and higher consciousness in the individual. It often starts with a very powerful chant “OM” at the beginning and ending of Yoga practice .
However “OM”  is more than just an invitation to start Yoga  practice. It is said to be the primordial sound born with the universe.
” OM” allows us to separate the time of our practice from the rest of our everyday lives, signifying that our practice time is a sacred time in which we care for ourselves while also practicing mindfulness.
Apparently chanted “OM” vibrates at the frequency of 432 Hz – the same vibrational frequency found in all things throughout nature.
“OM” is the basic sound of the universe; chanting it symbolically and physically tunes us into that sound and acknowledges our connection to everything in the world and the Universe.
The rhythmic pronunciation and vibrations have a calming effect on the body and the nervous system similar to the effects of meditation. This lowers the blood pressure and increases the health of the heart.
Ultimately, “OM” connects us to our practice in a deeper way.

This ancient discipline became a very important form  of practice  in the modern world of fitness ..Yoga roots are really ancient, however  the modern evolution that we know is very different from its original nature. It remains, though, the desire for many people as it was for me to approach this challenging at times discipline so fascinating and helpful in finding  balance in our daily routine , and also give  us the very much needed  physical and mental strengths and energy.
Especially during the COVID 19 lockdown  many people searched for the balance between mind and body and  have approached yoga for the first time.

As I mentioned before  there are many different types of Yoga ,and  It is important to know the various differences and thus choose to practice yoga that best suits your needs.

The most popular Yoga styles
 in the modern world are :

SI NEWS – TORONTO
  1. Hatha Yoga
    Hatha Yoga’s history dates back to the 15th century. Unlike other types, this yoga is practised at a slow pace, relaxed, as it focused on meditation. Among the main purposes is to introduce beginners to the main relaxation techniques and asanas (postures or positions typical of yoga) and includes all kinds of styles of modern yoga. There are thousands of asanas in the history of yoga and of course, we can not do them all.Asanas or postures, and sequences of asanas were  designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. … Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies we develop a balance and flexibility. The benefits of Hatha yoga include better sleep, strengthening core muscles, improving depression symptoms, and helping with stress management. Hatha yoga is a type of yoga that emphasizes holding poses for long periods of time. It is made up of three main practices: body postures, breathing techniques, and meditation.

    2.Bikram Yoga
    This type of yoga is often practiced in a hot and humid environment, where the temperature reaches about 40 degrees. There are about 26 different poses in the Bikram Yoga and is perfect for those who are willing to lose weight: with only one class you can burn about 600 calories…prepare yourself for a big sweat! It’s important to dress properly, with light and breathable clothing. The Bikram Yoga is suitable for people looking for a more intense workout, for those who want to develop strength, flexibility and muscle tone with a cardiovascular workout. Carry out this type of physical activity in hot environments also helps the body to relax, improve breathing and to develop a better mental focus. Bikram Yoga was invented by Bikram Choudhury – an Indian yogi that became popular in the USA in early 1970s.

    3.Vinyasa Yoga
    Vinyasa Yoga is also known as Ashtanga Yoga, and also for this variant, you can choose hot and humid environments as a place where to practice it. Vinyasa Yoga serves as a training to increase strength and helps to build lean muscle mass throughout the body. The advantage of using Vinyasa Yoga as the primary method to build muscle mass is that all muscle groups receive the same attention, creating a careful balance thanks to a flowing and continuous movement ,from one posture to another, seamlessly using breath commonly referred to as “flow”yoga ..It is also known as  Sun Salutation sequence,and  it is a series of asanas performed at dawn, which incorporate and reflect all the sun’s power and energy, worshipped and revered as God by ancient civilizations.The Vinyasa Yoga  continuous movements stretch and strengthen each muscle within the body, which helps to loosen them. This makes it ideal for those who have stiff, uncomfortable joints.

    4.Kundalini Yoga
    Kundalini yoga is a form of yoga that involves chanting, singing, breathing exercises, and repetitive poses. Its purpose is to activate your Kundalini energy. This is a spiritual energy that’s said to be located at the base of your spine.
    This type of yoga is also known as ‘yoga of awareness. This practice penetrates into your mind and has a strong spiritual tension. Its peculiarity is to use movement, sound, breath and meditation to relax and restore the mind and the body, improving strength, flexibility, and endurance. Kundalini Yoga strengthens the nervous system, balances glands, purifies the blood, and works deeply on your subconscious. This will give you greater awareness and ability to choose how to respond to your thoughts and your feelings. Through practice, you can train your mind and body to not react emotionally; That means not to repress your emotions, but rather to develop a kind of buffer zone, space and a time where elaborate thoughts and make educated choices.

    5.Anusara Yoga
    Anusara yoga is a modern-day Hatha yoga system founded by John Friend. Anusara means “flowing with grace,” “going with the flow,” “following your heart.” Anusara Yoga is rooted in a non-dual Tantric philosophy that we are all inherently good.
    It is a new form of yoga  founded in 1997 by John Friend. This form of yoga is known as one of the most spiritual, and it focuses on your inner self, your mind, and soul. It  is  organized into three categories: attitude, action, and alignment. Anusara means “flowing with grace” and is based on the principle that all beings have intrinsic goodness present in them. The practice of Anusara Yoga increases strength, toning muscles, and provides relaxation for body and mind.

    6.Iyengar Yoga
    Iyengar Yoga  is focused on precision, bodily alignment, strength ,flexibility ,and use of props .This yoga  practice encourages control over mind and body helping students learn to control stress and anxiety .It is a form of yoga as exercise with a focus on the structural alignment and flexibility of the physical body through the practice of asanas. During the session the postures are executed slowly, concentrating hard and held for one minute.

       In conclusion, yoga is more than just a form of exercise. It is a process of transformation, physical and mental.
Yoga in Sanskrit means “Union”..It is  a union between us  and all aspects of our lives .We should all take a moment to appreciate ourselves and  who we are in this lifetime,  and instead of expectations develop gratitude. Once we develop gratitude expectations will diminish. Before we start to do yoga physically we must understand  the process  of achieving the asanas and  prepare ourselves mentally. We must not be discouraged that we might not achieve the complete posture as we see in the book’s, and realize that the attempt to the posture is very beneficial as well. One of the biggest parts of yoga is breathing. Breathing deeply can be helpful to avoid injury , and to experience our true essence .The steady inhalation and exhalation of our  breath  stimulates a transformation in the mind and body ,and at the same time cleansing and purifying them so our true essence shines through. 
Breathing and very basic yoga movements will create  freedom in our body and prepare us for spiritual transformation and more advanced yoga postures.
Yoga is also a time for us to be in stillness. It’s very important to create a discipline within ourselves to find that time for  meditation and being mindful not to give into our urges.
Have a great journey on the Path of Yoga. 

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