The word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj” which means to connect, join or balance. Yoga is neither a religion nor a form of exercise. It is a way of life that brings the mind, the body, and the spirit together in harmony.

The practice of yoga involves forming different poses, stretching the body, and keeping breathing controlled. This relaxes the body and energizes it at the same time. There are several styles of yoga each with a different intensity and focus:

  • Hatha Yoga. Yoga of Postures for a peaceful mind and a healthy body.
  • Bhakti Yoga. Yoga of Devotion develops love and acceptance for all things.
  • Raja Yoga. Yoga of Self-Control emphasizes discipline and self-respect.
  • Jnana Yoga. Yoga of the Mind gives importance to wisdom and intellect and encourages an open and rational mind.
  • Karma Yoga. Yoga of Service focuses on changing attitude towards the good to change ones destiny.
  • Tantra Yoga. Yoga of Rituals uses rituals to experience what is sacred.

Although yoga involves achieving unity of the mind, body and spirit and is not merely a form of physical exercise, it does greatly benefit physical health. Among the remarkable effects on the body of yoga is that it

  • Increases flexibility
  • Increases lubrication of joints, ligaments and tendons
  • Massages all organs of the body
  • Detoxifies the body completely
  • Tones the muscles

Aside from greatly improving physical well-being, yoga also reduces stress, improves ones sense of well-being, reduces anxiety and muscle tension, slows the aging process and fosters spiritual growth. It is also known to help improve symptoms of many medical conditions such as allergies, asthma, and hypertension. Other than that, emotional balance can be achieved through the meditative practices of yoga.

Whether it be for spiritual transformation, stress management or physical well-being, the benefits of yoga are certainly numerous.