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Yoga, in Sanskrit, means, "to yoke together". This is translated to mean the union of individual self, the 'Atma,' with the universal self, the 'Paramatma.' There are different methods to achieve this union. When we say Yoga in the present-day context, particularly in the Western countries, what we aim for is the harmony between body, mind and spirit.From archeological sites dated 3,000 B.C.

, from the Indus valley civilization, it is clear that the yogic practice is at least that old. In the second century A.D., the yoga knowledge was collected and compiled into a treatise named 'Yoga Sutra,' by Patanjali.Patanjali's 'Ashantanga Yoga,' or eight-limbed yoga, taught eight steps of yoga to be done in the same sequence.

The first limb is 'Yama.' The five yamas are non-violence, truthfulness, not stealing, continence and non-covetousness. The next limb is Niyama.

The five niyamas are cleanliness, contentment, spiritual austerities, studying the self and the scriptures, and surrender to God. The third limb is 'Asanas,' a set of postures that create a union between the body and the mind so that the aspirant is able to concentrate his mind better. The next one, Pranayama, is a breath-regulating practice. It is not a breathing exercise, though it improves the respiratory system. The main purpose is to direct the 'Prana,' or life force, into proper channels. These four limbs prepare the body and mind for the next four, which are spiritual practices.

The fifth limb, 'Pratyahara,' practices drawing the consciousness from external objects and direct it inwards. One becomes detached from the world, and observes oneself as a witness. The next yoga, 'Dharana,' is a concentration practice to gather the full consciousness and concentrate it to observe its own core. The seventh limb, 'Dhyana,' is meditation. In this practice, the mind is made free from thoughts and becomes aware of itself.

The eighth and final stage is "Samadhi," where the practitioner reaches a state of ecstasy.Through there is no particular religious practice involved in the complete yoga, it is obvious that it is not for everyone. Most of us are interested in Hatha Yoga. The asanas make our body supple and strong, and the meditation relaxes and reduces stress in the mind. The effects of yoga on the body and mind are so good that it is worth taking it up.


Yoga provides detailed information on Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Pilates Yoga and more. Yoga is affiliated with Cheap Yoga Mats.

By: Ross Bainbridge


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