The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj”, i.e. “to yoke” [to the spirit] meaning “union of the Individual Soul (Atman) with the Universal Soul (Brahman). If you’ve never tried yoga. Or gave it up after a few sessions, take a deep breath, say “OM” and try again. In the past decade there have been many new twists on this 5,000 year old Hindu discipline that has have made it more appealing. And in some cases entertaining. Health clubs and studios around the world have spiced up Yoga classes with lively music, tribal drums, and even a few laughs. There’s even water yoga and classes for you and your dog. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
While you may never be able to twist yourself into a pretzel, yoga done regularly can help lower high blood pressure, reduce the symptoms of asthma, increase strength and agility and firm and tone the body. Conventional yoga entails several varieties such as Basic, Hatha, Vinyasa, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, and Jvamukta. Each has progressive and different degrees of intensity of poses or asanas that are done with rhythmic, controlled breathing. Hatha Yoga, the most popular style, emphasizes meditation, breathing, and asanas that stretch and strengthen the body. Postures are done standing, lying down, sitting in a chair, or in a headstand position. According to Bikram Choudhury, an internationally famous Hatha Yoga master, with more than 350 worldwide affiliates, “Yoga exercises increase the flow of oxygenated blood through the body, restoring all systems to healthy working order, just as Nature intended. Proper weight, muscle tone, vibrant good health, and a sense of well-being will automatically follow. “
While Yoga is by nature a series of somewhat somber, meditative exercises, health clubs such as Crunch– a wonderfully quirky abn over-the-top innovative fitness chain with branches in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston and Miami—puts fun into its asanas with sessions like “Laughing Lotus Yoga,” “Yoga with live music,” “Hot Yoga”, “Disco Yoga,” Yoga Mamas, Yoga for Jocks and even Ruff Yoga where dogs can get into the act.
Yoga can be practiced anywhere. There’s no equipment to lug or special clothes to wear. You can do it on the beach, in a cruise ship stateroom (or spa) and a hotel room, at home, on the patio, in the backyard, or discreetly on an airplane or even in the airport. Yoga is good for the mind, body an soul, reduces stress and puts a spring into your step.