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What is Yoga?

 What is Yoga

Yoga, which means discipline, was developed in the year 300 by a Hindu named Patanjali. Its purpose is to stretch the muscles, strengthen the body and increase concentration. It can also help you relax, if you have trouble doing so.

What is Yoga

No wonder this ancient discipline has become popular among modern artists and athletes. Depending on who practices it, yoga can be simply a set of exercises or a total way of life.

Some who practice yoga, called yogis, try to use the discipline to achieve a high level of consciousness. They observe certain abstentions (things not to do), such as not lying, stealing, being greedy, or harming other people. They also practice certain observances (things to do), such as being clean, content, self-controlled, studious and dedicated.

Physical control is also important in yoga. Yogis train themselves to breathe deeply. They consider breathing to be a life force, counting life expectancy not in years but in the number of breaths.

Unlike exercises that only work on strength, yoga also helps the body become flexible. As a result, some yoga exercises (called asanas) look a little strange and you may think you need to be a human pretzel to do them. Not so. You just have to relax.

In yoga, you relax into the stretches, never straining. The saying no pain, no gain, just doesn't apply. You just do the best you can at this moment, and at some later time you will do more.

All yoga postures require balance. And since you can't maintain balance if you're thinking about last night's TV show, yoga also demands concentration. Learn to concentrate in yoga and you'll be able to concentrate better in baseball, tennis or even school.

Yoga exercises copy nature. Many yoga postures trace back to the forms of creatures, such as the cobra, cat, dog, turtle, crab and eagle.

In the cobra pose, for example, you wonder what it feels like to be a cobra. You lie on your stomach with your forehead pressed to the floor. As you inhale, you slowly turn your head back, supporting yourself with your hands. You hold that pose, then slowly lower down, trying to move as a snake would.

All yoga exercises promote strength and calmness. The effects of each movement on a muscle, gland or nerve center are carefully thought out.

You can choose certain exercises to get rid of particular aches and pains, such as back pain from back packs or leg pain from jogging. Yoga can help you prepare for skiing or help you control feelings of depression or fear.

Any good book on yoga will describe various asanas and tell how each one works. You may even have already done yoga exercises. You've ever done the pinafore or the shuttlecock. Many exercise programs are based on yoga.