Yoga is a rich, complex science or system or art. It is an internal science of self development based on experience rather than belief and “first and foremost a discipline of conscious living” (Georg Feuerstein, Living Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide to Daily Life). Originating in the Himalayas more than 5,000 years ago as a method of spiritual inquiry, it came to the West 103 years ago. The root word “yoga,”—“yuj” in Sanskrit means to yoke together, to unite.
The health benefits are immediate and apparent. Those that come to Yoga seeking relief from any variety of ailments usually find it. The lists of physical and mental disorders that respond positively to Yoga grow each year. Yoga postures can relieve back pain, improve circulation, improve posture, and give relief from muscular tension by aligning the body so that overworked muscles can rest. The practice of yoga postures not only quiets the brain but also clears the mind of thoughts that cause tension. Yoga affects all the systems in the body: muscular-skeletal, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and nervous systems. In conclusion, Hatha Yoga is the oldest and most thoroughly tested physical and mental form of exercise known. It has much to offer in that it is not only excellent for stress management, but, the postures are not joint-jarring where repetitive muscle contractions can lead to chronic stiffness or lack of flexibility. When practicing Hatha Yoga postures, different muscles groups are simultaneously being stretched and strengthened in a natural way.