What is yoga exactly?
Yoga is so much more than an effective full body workout.
We explain what yoga is exactly, where it comes from, and why it is worth doing yoga.
Yoga is a 5,000-year-old Indian-philosophical lesson. Not only does it include physical exercises, as we know them here in the USA, but it is a guide on how to bring body and mind into harmony in order to reach a state of complete happiness.
Hence the term “yoga”, which translates to “the union of body, mind, and soul”.
The path is made up of different practices, including physical exercises known as asanas. In addition, breathing, concentration, meditation, as well as one’s own actions, ie dealing with his environment and himself, are part of the traditional understanding of yoga.
In the USA and Europe, yoga has become a popular full-body workout that focuses on physical exercises. Asanas are usually practiced in conjunction with breathing.
However, the powerful positions not only strengthen your body but also train your mental strength.
The Origin of Yoga: Where does yoga come from?
The roots of yoga are in India and can be found in Hinduism and parts of Buddhism. In Hinduism salvation is one of the highest goals in life and the pursuit of it has always been a central task of life.
In the beginning, however, yoga was a purely spiritual way of calming the mind and thus achieving higher awareness.
The first mention can be found in the Bhagavadgita, one of the most important scriptures of Hinduism. Four different yoga directions are shown, but purely spiritual nature.
These include the Yogasutra (“Yoga Guide”), a central source text of yoga written by Patanjali, an Indian scholar.
In 195 verses it summarizes the essence of yoga. Svatmarama wrote the Hathayogapradibika, which was dedicated specifically to physical techniques.
He describes purification rituals and explains special postures, the asanas, which should contribute to the desired realization. Yoga unites spiritual and physical rituals to balance body and mind.
Yoga became popular in Europe from the 1920s. Major Indian gurus such as Krishnamacharya or Pattabhi Jois began to pass on Eastern traditions to Western teachers, which then developed a variety of yoga styles such as Kundalini, Ashtanga, Iyengar or Jivamukti Yoga.
What makes yoga different from other sports?
Yoga is not “just a bit stretchy”, but it is still different from other sports:
1. Yoga trains body AND mind.
Yoga is more than a physical workout. If you’ve already tried it out, you can start to sweat in a yoga session. After all, your entire musculature works, which is strengthened by both the static and the fluid movements. But for most yogis, a tighter body is more of a side effect.
Because the goal is actually another: Only those who are focused on themselves, it manages to be stable in the asanas.
Thereby the perception and the awareness of one’s own body is increased. This is how you train your mental strength with each yoga session.
2. Yoga is a sport without competition.
Even if you just focus on yoga, it happens that you occasionally squint on other mats.
And your head begins to compare immediately: who is better, gets higher or lower, or stands in an asana that you are still far from. However, you should immediately banish these thoughts.
Because comparisons have nothing to do with yoga. This is just about you and your body. And no matter how far you are, it’s okay as it is.
You may quietly ask a bit, but not to show it to others, but because it feels good to you. Spasmodic misplacement brings nothing.
The best progress can be achieved with a positive attitude: Everything is possible, nothing has to be done. And you will see, that will surprise you.
3. Yoga works in the flow of breathing.
Breathe all the time. Even if you do other sports. In yoga, but very conscious. For newcomers to Yoga, it may feel a bit strange when everyone around you breathes loudly, panting or occasionally exhaling moaning.
That is quite normal.
The conscious inhaling and exhaling support the exercises especially when they are breath-synchronized, such as when the sun salutation is performed.
For opening positions, exhale and exhale for closing so that you get into a practiced flow. This will turn off your head over time and that’s exactly what you want to achieve in yoga.
Even in static positions, breathing helps you to keep the focus, to get deeper into the figure and to feel your body more intense.
Why you should start with the yoga training?
5 positive effects:
1. Yoga makes you happy.
After an hour of yoga do you feel like being on cloud nine? Yogis call this “yoga drunk”. You owe this high of gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is considered a feel-good substance in the brain.
Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine found that the neurotransmitter increases by 27% before and after a 60-minute yoga session.
2. Yoga boosts your metabolism.
This effect is enhanced by conscious and concentrated breathing during asanas. This creates heat that increases your blood circulation and fuels your metabolism, which in turn detoxifies the entire organism.
3. Yoga helps against stress.
In yoga, you sooner or later have to focus on yourself. In conjunction with breathing, this has a positive effect on your autonomic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system, which calms your body, is stimulated and relieves stress. As a result, a 3-month yoga training lowers the stress hormone cortisol and makes it more stress-resistant.
4. Yoga increases mobility.
Yoga not only tightens your body but also makes you more flexible. Many of the asanas stretch your muscles. In yoga, this should be done as gently as possible.
Best in conjunction with a deep breathing. By the way, that also helps, if it really hurts. Then try to concentrate on inhaling and exhaling, accepting the pain and dropping even more.
That should still be bearable. Otherwise solve the asana rather.
5. Yoga improves sleep.
This, too, is related to the vegetative nervous system, more specifically the parasympathetic, which is stimulated by practicing yoga.
Different studies show that yoga exercises can improve sleep quality and help against insomnia.
Our tip: To enhance the effect, choose asanas that close your body in the evening, such as prevention.
On the mat, ready, sun salutation!
Yes, yes, we know the prejudices that some have about yoga: this is not a sport! Way too spiritual! And are not they singing too? Yes, Ommmm is actually tuned in some courses, but there are at least as many courses that neither chant nor sing exceptionally.
Everyone finds a place in the diverse yoga jungle. It does not matter if you are looking for the higher self, a relaxed balance or a purposeful stretching.
If you feel like yoga, you can read more about the various types of yoga here, what the most important terms in yoga are, which yoga exercises are suitable for beginners, and much more yoga inspiration.