What is Yoga?

Most people have heard of yoga, and have formed an idea of what they think it is. One yoga expert (Judith Hanson Lasater) shares her views about yoga and potential benefits here:

For Beginners:
The Benefits of Yoga Practice

There is an old story in the ancient literature of India about a student attempting in vain to describe the taste of a mango. Listening to the futile words, the teacher shakes his head, smiles, and picking up a ripe luscious mango, bites into it. Writing about the benefits of hatha yoga is a little like this. If you practice poses, breathing and relaxation, no words are necessary because you "have tasted the mango." If you haven't tried a yoga class, words are probably not powerful enough by themselves to convince you. Experience, as the wise tell us, is the only true teacher.

While there has been some scientific documentation of the benefits of yoga, what is more important to consider about yoga are the responses of those who have practiced. Virtually without variation, yoga students will tell you that they feel better after a class, more relaxed, more centered. Students often report that headaches, back pain, anxiety, menstrual cramps and stress have changed or vanished. In more rare cases, students who have been trying to have a baby find they get good news at the doctor's office, others claim that the hip pain of decades' duration has vanished. Some people say they sleep through the night regularly for the first time in their lives. In more than one case, students have banished carpal tunnel syndrome, avoided surgery and generally found new balance and harmony in their lives. Whether these beneficial changes are related to an overall improvement in health and well-being or are due to a specific yoga pose, these healthy changes are deeply appreciated by yoga students.

What can you expect when you start to practice yoga? First, you will probably notice an increase in overall flexibility; your muscles will gradually begin to release tension and tightness. Where else does "tension" live in our bodies but in our muscles? When your muscles relax, as they do during a massage or after taking a yoga class, this muscular relaxation will be interpreted as a generalized reduction in tension and mental stress. Additionally, you may even find that you can bend over and touch the floor with your knees straight, which the average 30-year-old cannot do!

I'm curious about what you all feel are the benefits you have received from yoga. Feel free to post your comments here!


Kat said...

If you want to leave a comment related to this blog, just click the 0 comments line and it should let you leave one!

steve b said...

Hi Kat,

My yoga story is also on blogspot ... Namaste ... Steve

My Yoga Story

Yoga Video and DVD Dude at MyYogaVideo.com

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