The Spirit of Yoga

Yoga History

The origin of yoga and the rich history of this practice will only further our understanding of the depth and breadth of yoga as a whole. We can explore other avenues and other paths and practices simply by learning about its past. By rooting ourselves in the origin of yoga and all of its historical wisdom, we can take our practice to an even deeper level.

nobody knows exactly when it started. Only a legend can give us an idea about the history of yoga. According to the legend, Shiva was the first yogi. And many thousands of years ago, Shiva reached enlightenment in a place called Mount Kailash. The story says that he had seven disciples who became known as the seven rishis. They are considered the founders of most spiritual traditions in the world. The word yoga itself first appeared in writing in the ancient and sacred texts of Hinduism – the Vedas. Specifically, yoga first made an appearance in the Rig Veda, the oldest of these scriptures.

The “Bible of yoga,”  The Bhagavad Gita, was the first spiritual text to declare that anyone could be enlightened. In it, the guru (Krishna) lays out three specific margas (or paths) of yoga. Each path is unique but they all lead to one ultimate goal: enlightenment. Enlightenment is the true essence and origin of yoga.

Bhakti Yoga

This is the path of the heart. It is pure love and devotion. By faithfully and devotedly loving all beings and following the eternal creator, you can reach enlightenment via this path.

Jnana Yoga

This is the path of the intellect. It is the way of knowledge and wisdom. Studying ancient scriptures and keenly studying yourself through the practices of self-contemplation and meditation are said to lead you to enlightenment via this path.

Karma Yoga

This is the path of work. It is all about selfless service and action. To follow this path, you must devote yourself to your dharma (your ultimate purpose in the world) and unwaveringly fulfill this purpose.

The Spirit of Yoga

For those who practice yoga, with any yoga practice, the series of poses, breathing exercises, and meditations still the mind as the body moves. The breath becomes a mantra. Meditation is a prayer. It can change our brain chemistry while reducing the amount of stress we experience on a daily basis. Yoga stretches the body; supports circulation while flushing out the blood and lymph systems; stimulates every major organ; tones the muscles; and helps remove impurities while encouraging ultimate flow.

More and more, humans are waking to the notion that stress is harmful. They are ready to step away from the grind in order to initiate the path to wellness. Wilcock implores his viewers to tap into their deep esoteric knowledge when seeking meaning. As with most matters of the divine, he asserts, there is, “a concerted effort to hide from the mainstream, scientific breakthroughs that would lead us in the direction of universal consciousness.”

The daily stresses that encompass life are the cornerstone to living on earth but yoga has the power to transform the effects of stress on the body. Inside each human, there is a superpower waiting to be tapped. That is the power to take a deep breath.

Yoga and Science

Several recent studies drive home yoga’s positive effects on the brain, central nervous system and immune system, said Dr. Loren Fishman, a New York City physician who is also a yoga instructor. “It thickens the layers of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain associated with higher learning, and increases neuroplasticity, which helps us learn new things and change the way we do things,” said Fishman. He has used yoga in his medical practice to treat myriad conditions, including multiple sclerosis , carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and rotator cuff syndrome.

Yoga develops inner awareness. It focuses your attention on your body’s abilities at the present moment. It helps develop breath and strength of mind and body. It’s not about physical appearance.

The researchers found that people who practiced yoga were more mindful eaters according to their scores. Both years of yoga practice and number of minutes of practice per week were associated with better mindful eating scores. Practicing yoga helps you be more aware how your body feels. This heightened awareness can carry over to mealtime as you savor each bite or sip, and note how food smells, tastes and feels in you mouth.

Researchers found that people who practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes once a week for at least four years, gained less weight during middle adulthood. People who were overweight actually lost weight. Overall, those who practiced yoga had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) compared with those who did not practice yoga. Researchers attributed this to mindfulness. Mindful eating can lead to a more positive relationship with food and eating.

Researchers studied a small group of sedentary individuals who had not practiced yoga before. After eight weeks of practicing yoga at least twice a week for a total of 180 minutes, participants had greater muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and cardio-respiratory fitness.

Several small studies have found yoga to have a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors: It helped lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension. It’s likely that the yoga restores “baroreceptor sensitivity.” This helps the body senses imbalances in blood pressure and maintain balance.

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” ― Buddha

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