The Origin of Yoga and the Development of Yoga
Yoga, meaning union in Sanskrit (Phoenix, 2007; Pullicino, 2007; Radha, 1996), is a family of ancient spiritual practices, and also a school of spiritual thought that originated in India, where it remained a vibrant living tradition and was seen as a means to enlightenment (Stiles, 2002). People believed the origin of yoga was in Ancient India. Between 4000 B. C. and 2000 B. C., artifacts of Indus Valley Civilization showed figures in seated, cross-legged poses, and symbols later associated with yoga (Jones, 2000; Beck, 1996). “Yoga can be defined as “mindfulness,” or the process of directing the attention toward whatever we were doing at the moment. Through practicing yoga postures, people were directed toward the present moment using the breath” (Fronske, 2005). Phoenix (2007) indicated “Yoga is a complete system of life, its magnitude vast, and benefits limitless.”
The greatest classical text from the yoga school of Indian philosophy was the YOGA SUTRAS by Patanjali, thought to have been written in the second century BC (Sanderson Beck, 1996). Patanjali, an ancient Indian sage, was called the Father of Yoga. He developed the concept of yoga through the treatise on yoga, called Yoga Sutras (Stiles, 2002).
Patanjali indicated eight stages of yoga, called Ashtangayoga. The eight stages were the “Eight Limbs of Yoga”, called “encompass the whole of human behavior from personal conduct, posture, breathing and control of the senses to an understanding of the mind or self-realization” (Phoenix, 2007). They were Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahrya, Dharna, Dhyana, and Samadhi. Yama was social behavior, Niyama was inner discipline, Asana was physical posture, Pranayama was breath control, Pratyahrya was discipline of the senses, Dharna was concentration, Dhyana was meditation, and Samadhi was self-realization (Stiles, 2002).
In the west, yoga became associated with the asanas (postures) of Hatha Yoga, which were popularly considered as fitness exercises and also formed the basis of an expanding business (Stiles, 2002). Yoga could be delineated as an outstanding method of self-development and self-realization. The popular style of yoga today was called “Hatha Yoga.”
Yoga has different styles, such as Bikram yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Lyengar yoga. Ashtanga yoga is a form of Hatha yoga that provides people more workouts by using powerful movements and postures rather than remaining separate, static poses. Lyengar yoga , also a type of Hatha Yoga, allows people with physical limitations to use other support, such as properties, blocks, and belts ( Yoga Benefits the Mind and the Body, 1999; Stiles, 2002). Bikram yoga, called “hot yoga”, builds physical and mental strength, balance and flexibility. Bikram yoga was originally created to heal (Motsay, 2003).
In addition, yoga is the only system in the world that not only equips a sound mind, a peaceful spirit, and a healthy body, but also claims to cure a whole gamut of life threatening diseases (Stiles, 2002; Sharma & Singh, 2001).
Yoga was a daily activity for everyone in India. In ancient India, yoga was used as an approach of improving personal mind and body (Sharma & Singh, 2001; Fronske, 2005). About 3000 B.C., yoga existed in ancient India (Bance, n.d.; Sharma & Singh, 2001). The word “Yoga” appeared around 1500 B.C. ( Sparrowe, 2004). The number of yoga classes offered at health clubs has increased by 26 percent in the past five years, according to IDEA ( International Dance and Exercise Association- association for health and fitness professionals) (Heaner, 2001).
The yoga posture has had thousands of styles from its beginning. Every posture had a special name from the names of animals, such as cobra, peacock, fish, and locust. In the past, people found that they could benefit from similar postures as animals. They invented a series of practicing postures called “Asana” (Thakur, 2003). The postures, known as asanas, represented various aspects of the physical practice of yoga (Latona & Shelton, 2002; Yoga helps to keep us healthy, 2002).
The Function of “Asana”
“Asana” is a Sanskrit word, which means the “Seat” or the “Posture” (Thakur, 2003). Asana is to maintain a comfortable action for a period of time. During slow motion, let the body stay relaxed and take deep breaths (Thakur, 2003). This allows blood to absorb abundant oxygen during the movement. “Asana” influences different parts of the body. “Asana” helps activate the muscular and nervous system, and strengthen muscles and joints of the body (Sharma & Singh, 2001).
Phoenix (2007) indicated “The benefits of Asana were immense. They were actions for keeping the internal and external parts of the body in good health, and help the process of eliminating waste matter from the body.” In addition, the immune system and digestive system could be active and improved through “Asana.” Asana has many positions, such as standing asanas, sitting asanas, supine asanas, prone asanas, and inverted asanas (Stiles, 2002; Sharma & Singh, 2001).
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