what is YOga?
isn't it just stretching and breathing?
In the beginning yes, it is a wonderful form of exercise that rids the body of any unwanted toxic material and chemical build up, calms the mind through various breath works as well as building strength and agility in the body but there is much, much more to the concept that is yoga.
The word “yoga” essentially means, “that which brings you to reality”. Literally, it means “union.” The union of body, mind and spirit and allows a space to bring us back to our authentic self and ultimate reality. Yoga is the mastery of the mind and allows us to realise that the thoughts that we have are not our own, merely a tangled bunch of conditioning and unconscious, learned thought patterns that are easily reversible and rewritable given the right environment, attention and nurturing. The mind itself is just identification and discrimination and when used in the right way is helpful. It's when the ego (sense of self) is abstract, obscure or just plain out of control sometimes which causes self esteem issues (too much or too little), attachments, addictions, obsessions and the need for external factors to meet needs (eg. material and worldly objects or people to satisfy and fulfil us emotionally).
Science is revealing new findings that mindfulness/meditation (breathing exercises) and yoga asana (stretch poses) have huge health benefits that prolong life and vitality as well as aid anxiety, stress, depression and elevate moods. The impact that yoga has not only had on physical health but the mind and all it's subtle intricacies in regards to the emotional spectrum is inexplicable until you have tried it for yourself. Yoga teaches you how to control your mind and emotions and in turn spills out from the class/practice and empowers one to strengthen all aspects of life.
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"An ounce of practice is worth a thousand words."
- Mahatma Ghandi