Yoga: Origins and Why It’s Good For You

Many people today believe that Yoga is all about stretches, poses, twists, and complex turns that are accompanied with controlled breathing.But as humanitarian, spiritual leader and an ambassador of peace, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Yoga is not just exercise and asanas. It is the emotional integration and spiritual elevation with a touch of mystic element, which gives you a glimpse of something beyond all imagination.”

Derived from the Sanskrit word Yuj, Yoga means the union of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit.  The exact origins of Yoga are uncertain. The word Yoga was first mentioned 5,000-old text from the old Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India. However, many believe that Yoga dates as far back as 10,000 years ago.  

In the 1980s, Yoga became accepted as a method of physical exercise across the Western world. However, Yoga in Indian traditions goes beyond physical exercise but has a meditative and spiritual core.  Today, Yoga is a spiritual and ascetic discipline. Widely practiced for health and relaxation, it includes breath control, simple meditation, and specific bodily postures. According to TIMOTHY MCCALL, M.D there are at least 38 health benefits to Yoga.  

Calms The Mind By Releasing Stress

Some Yoga methods are used as specific meditation techniques, which focuses on quieting the mind thus relieving stress. Yoga breathing boosts oxygen levels to the brain, leaving you feeling happier and content.       

Improves Muscle Tone and Strength

Many Yoga asanas (posture)  have an intense effect on your upper body strength, such as the downward and upward dog while the plank focuses on your core.

Standing poses can strengthen your upper leg muscles and lower back. Just about any Yoga pose will strengthen an area of the body if it is practiced and executed in the correct form.    

Increases Flexibility

Despite how you feel about the current state of your body or how tight you feel your muscles are, the intensity of Yoga can be adjusted.  By safely stretching your muscles and continuous practice, you’ll be surprised how your ligaments and tendons stretch, and soon you’ll feel your range of motion increase, allowing you to move with ease and freely.

There are numerous more benefits to practicing Yoga regularly.  But beyond the improvement in health, it has positive effects on your overall well-being, emotional and mental stability.  As Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Health is not a mere absence of disease. It is a dynamic expression of life – in terms of how joyful, loving and enthusiastic you are.”