By: Benjamin Cole
Evolve Fit Studios is a center for physical and mental wellness. We offer a multitude of classes, including but not limited to boxing, HIIT, yoga and pilates. The latter two, yoga and pilates, are what's considered mind-body practices. This three part series is intended to detail how mind-body practices are different from typical exercises, as well as outline the three most popular forms mind-body practices:
Keep in mind as you read that yoga is an ancient practice with vast amounts of literature on it. This short blog post is merely an introduction, not intended to capture it entirely.
Where does yoga come from? What is it?
Yoga is an ancient Hindu practice that's far more than a way to connect with your body. Yoga has a few different different translations, but it loosely means "to link" or "to unite, unification." Yoga has one of the richest traditions of mind-body practices because of its longtime relevance and widespread recognition. Having been practiced for over 5,000 years, yoga is one of the world's most venerable mind-body practices.
Think of yoga as both a verb and a noun. In the West, we are accustomed to thinking of yoga in terms of doing or going to do yoga. Conversely, yoga is really a state of mind or way of being; to be unified or whole in mind, body, and action. Thanks for that, Sanskrit!
What is the goal of yoga?
As outlined by its roots in Sanskrit, yoga is an attempt (a continual and consistent attempt) to unify the mind and body so that your spirit (your inner or higher self) may flow freely. It's a practice where you never really 'arrive,' but continue.
People report feeling lighter, calmer, more flexible and healthier with a consistent yoga practice. Yoga's fundamental intention is to disconnect you from that incessant thinking and analytical mind. You know, that one that won't shut up when you're trying to go to bed or have a big meeting coming up the next day? Yeah, that one!
Yoga, when done right either alone or with a teacher, will give you mental and emotional equanimity and stability. By letting go of those thoughts that may be plaguing you and by being present in the body, the mind will have no other choice than to cease its motion (through being present in the body's motion with coordinated and aligned breathing/movement).
It's this very moment that yoga occurs, as the mind becomes one with the body. This is what's known as 'Samādhi' in Sanskrit, or the unbroken concentration of the present, which leads to 'inner wholeness or illumination.'
Devout practitioners seek to maintain this inner state of awareness throughout their everyday waking lives. Easier said than done!
What are yoga's primary principles?
There are four main principles that guide yoga practitioners: breathing, posture, mantra, and meditation. Think of these as circles in a Venn diagram; where they intersect in the middle is the 'state of being' being sought after, aka inner harmony.
Briefly, here's what those entail:
If that's a lot to take in and remember, you might just sign up at one of our group broga classes, a modern type of yoga intended to calm your body and mind, make you more flexible, and bring you into alignment literally, physically, and mentally!
Hopefully, this brief introduction to yoga taught you something you didn't know and piqued your curiosity about the wealth of tradition yoga is steeped in. Volumes upon volumes upon volumes have been written about this practice for thousands of years, so it is arguably the most successful mind-body practice ever created.
Now that says something!
About Benjamin Cole
Benjamin is a multimedia freelancer and health and wellness practitioner. He has been training the mind and body for nearly a decade and writes and speaks regularly about the benefits through various channels and pages. Through his work he hopes to inform people on how they connect to their inner guidance and higher self so that they may live more informed and inspired lives.
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