Yoga literally means “union”. Yoga is a combination of physical postures (asanas), breathwork (pranayama) and awareness. In this way yoga goes way beyond simple exercise. Some of the many benefits of yoga are:
… and there are many more.
The yoga that we practice in the West is called Hatha Yoga (Ha – the sun, Tha – the moon). However within this umbrella term there are many different styles of yoga practiced and taught. It can be helpful to try different types of yoga and different teachers until you find what resonates with you. Depending on the class that you go to the focus might be on any one or a combination of; alignment, therapeutics, the breath, energy, flow, cardio, strength, flexibility; again the list goes on.
Yoga originated thousands of years ago in India. In India Hatha yoga is just one small part of their yoga practice. In India Yoga is predominantly practiced as a means towards enlightenment, as a way to achieve union with The Divine, the true Self. There are several paths that can be followed to reach this union. They include devotion (bhakti yoga), selfless service (karma yoga), knowledge (jnana yoga) and meditation and hatha yoga (raja yoga).