YOGA – FACTS FOR BEGINNERS
“Yoga is bringing the thoughts in the spirit to peace.” (Patanjali)
In recent decades yoga has gone from being an Eastern teaching to become a fashionable sport. No surprise there – yoga can be practised by almost anyone! At the Posthotel we are now dedicating a whole sporting year to yoga…
What is yoga?
The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which is often translated as “unification”. According to legend, some 2000 years ago the Indian sage Patanjali compiled 195 instructions for the practice of yoga – the Yoga Sutra that even today serves as a philosophical guide to the movement and also contains the eight pillars of yoga:
1. Yamas: approach to one’s surroundings
2. Niyamas: approach to oneself
3. Asanas: approach to one’s body
4. Pranayama: approach to one’s breathing
5. Pratayahara: approach to one’s senses
6. Dharana: concentration
7. Dhyana: meditation
8. Samadhi: inner freedom
Today most yogis and yoginis mainly practise the asanas, a set of positions intended to strengthen the body. There are however numerous different styles of yoga that emphasise many different aspects.
Is yoga a religion?
No. While yoga is to an extent entwined with the tenets of Hinduism and Buddhism, it is not a separate religion: it is rather a philosophy for spiritual growth and the control of body and mind.
What is the meaning of “om” and is it fundamental to yoga?
Everyone knows the cliché of yoga disciples sitting in a circle and chanting “om” mantras until they fall into a deep trance. But, as is so often the case with clichés, they only address one aspect of the truth. Om is indeed closely connected with the concept of yoga. The ancient yogis saw in it the sound of the universe, of which they wished to become aware – therefore this mantra was intoned at the beginning and end of each yoga session. Yoga is much more than meditation, however: it is a teaching that trains both mind and body.
How does yoga differ from other fitness programmes?
Unlike other fitness programmes, yoga involves more than just body movements. Yoga forms a connection between body and mind and helps direct the attention inwards. Regular yoga thus not only makes the body more flexible, but the thought processes too.
What do you need to start practising yoga?
If you want to join a yoga course you need just three things: a comfortable outfit, a yoga mat and a certain degree of curiosity!