Yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. Sage Patanjali is considered to be the founder who systematically collected information about yoga practices and enshrined them in his Sutra’s . Patanjali’s Yoga is also known by different names such as Raja Yoga, which is aimed at achieving complete control of the mind. Yoga in general is the Hindu system of philosophy, which encompasses the body, mind and spirit. ‘Yoga’ means union—the experience of oneness and union with your inner ‘self’. Its goal is ultimate physical healing and happiness together with mental peace and tranquility. Pranayam—deep breathing exercises and meditation especially performed in early morning can refresh you.
There are various types of yoga, namely
- Bhakti yoga – The Path of Devotion to God.
- Karma yoga – The path of Selfless service to humanity.
- Jnana yoga – The path of Knowledge about the self and ultimate reality.
- Asthanga yoga – The Path of Patanjali, also known as the eight-step path
- Hatha yoga – A combination of Asanas (physical exercise and postures), pranayam.
(Breathing techniques), and meditation
It is believed that Hatha yoga is a one of the best ways to achieve physical perfection that is available to any individual in the modern age. Yoga practitioners believe that Hatha yoga is a single step in the eight-step path a Asthana yoga.
You can learn yoga by attending classes, or from videos and books. With all the yoga exercises, proper technique is very important and it is advisable to learn properly. You can practice yoga at any age. It develops flexibility and muscular endurance and helps relieve stress.
Dr Vinay Agarwal and Dr Bhavyeah Gupta from Department of physiology at LLRM Medical College, Meerut, U.P., in their study on 30 young adults who were subjected to exercise and meditation for 12 weeks, observed a significant fall in heart rate and vital capacity. A few changes in respiratory rate, maximum oxygen consumption, blood pressure, haemoglobin and cholesterol were also observed indicating the role of meditation and yoga in physical fitness.
Vipasana meditation has recently been shown as a perfect anti-stress remedy with significant increase in neuro-humoral contents of blood and a decrease in plasma cortisol level, whereas transcendental meditation caused greater tranquility with increase in alpha wave activity in addition to wide ranging effect on health memory, intelligence, performance and reversal of aging process.
The term power yoga came into being in the mid 1990s. It is not the traditional form of yoga; it is an East meets West routine. Yoga with flexibility training is power yoga, which involves the traditional Surya Namaskar combined with flexibility and strength training. It is described as a vigorous fitness-based approach to vinyasa-style yoga. It is based on the Ashtanga Yoga. Although it is yoga, it has minimum chanting and meditation in it.
The exercises help increase lean muscle tissure, which reduces body fat and increase basal metabolic rate (BMR). Experts recommend a 45 minute workout three times a week that can be alternated with cardio and weight-training.
Bikram Yoga is the brain-child of Bikram Choudhury. Also known as ‘hot yoga’ or ‘fire yoga’; it includes a series of 26 yoga postures and pranayam done in a heated room. This yoga form is practiced at 40 degrees centigrade with humidity of about 40 per cent. Each yoga class lasts for about 90 minutes. The explanation behind practicing an intense yoga session at hot temperatures is that it promotes heavy sweating which removes the toxins in the body. It also makes the body very warm, and therefore more flexible with reduced chances of injury.
Laughter (Hasya) Yoga
For the elderly, laughter yoga is an interesting fitness option. Several clubs across the country propagate laughter yoga. Laughter is the best medicine they say. People come together in open space, especially in gardens and perform a combination of yoga and breathing exercises that last for about 30 minutes.
Laughter yoga is an exercise routine developed by individuals around the globe. It seeks to capitalize on the popularity of yoga to promote laughter among it’s practitioners. This new type of yoga gaining ground around the globe preaches that anyone can laugh without a reason, you do not need jokes and comedy serials to laugh. There are different types of laughter –Namaskar laughter, Lion laughter, Kite laughter, Penguin laughter, Fox laughter and much more.
The positive energy that is created because of laughter may help regulate blood pressure, stimulate blood circulation, flight depression, anxiety and also other psychosomatic disorders.