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Although Yoga has been an established philosophy for thousands of years, it continues to teach us about ourselves as it evolves to meet the needs of modern life.
What are some of these modern needs? Certainly Yoga practices can help us to become fit and to maintain good health. By practicing Yoga postures, most commonly taught at Yoga centers, gyms and YMCAs, our bodies gains strength, flexibility and tone. The relaxation poses also help us slow down the pace of our usually hectic lives.
Equally important, Yoga practices can help us reduce stress and reap innumerable benefits for our breath, energy and mind. Yoga’s effect on the nervous, circulatory, immune, respiratory and endocrine systems has been demonstrated repeatedly. These benefits are often gained by breathing, deep relaxation and visualization techniques.
Over the years, a number of Yoga masters have taught many Americans who are now teachers themselves. These instructors have continued the tradition of their own teachers and so “styles” of Yoga have developed. These “styles” are differentiated by their emphasis. One might emphasize correct body alignment; another expresses the flowing style of movement. Yet another emphasizes the flow of energy in the spine; while another might focus on breathing. Classes may vary in the focus chosen each week and some repeat the same techniques in each class. It is worth visiting a number of classes to find the situation that meets your needs and desires.
A well-rounded Yoga class will introduce, over time, many aspects from the vast storehouse of Yoga. In addition to these general techniques, there are specific modifications and variations for students whose capacities are limited. It even recognizes the need for different practices throughout the life cycle. Yoga is truly for every body.
Much to many people’s surprise, Yoga is not a religion. Rather it is a spiritual philosophy that has many aspects and practices. These practices often deepen one’s religious faith.
Those 15 to 20 million people who are already practicing Yoga come from all walks of life, every religion, race, creed and nationality. The very word ‘yoga’ means ‘union’. As a practice it unites us all as we move toward the goals of self-knowledge, well-being and inner peace.
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