Yoga in the New Millennium

Despite the long-standing and steadily growing public interest in yoga, there are few organizations in the West or East dedicated to the objective study of yoga and the various aspects of its traditions. In 1996, Georg Feuerstein, renowned yoga expert, established the Yoga Research Center. The center is dedicated to preserving the traditional teachings of yoga, promoting research, and maintaining a library. The center offers degree programs and teacher training programs and collaborates with other yoga research and education centers around the world.

If you were to ask a yoga master what yoga is, he or she would talk of yoga’s essential nature and its profound wisdom, spiritual integrity, and effective healing powers. If posing the same question to a child who practiced yoga, the child would most likely describe yoga in graphic, succinct terms a mighty mountain, a candle, or a tiny seashell. A senior might venture to say that yoga is a beloved companion or the fountain of youth. The individual who suffers with chronic pain might express yoga as a getaway to great joy. For numerous individuals, yoga cannot be expressed verbally; it is enough to say that it feels like a vast, fenceless landscape of inner peace and joy.

A number of hatha yoga poses, or asana, that you will encounter in a hatha class and throughout the blog are illustrated with step-by-step instructions in chapter 4. There are asana for beginners, intermediate, and advanced yoga students. Each pose details the translation of the Sanskrit name as well as the primary benefits the pose offers. The chapter concludes with illustrated instructions for the Sun Salutation, the continuous, fluid exercise that stretches and benefits the entire body.

Chapter 5 addresses issues common to finding a class and developing your own yoga practice. It will help you prepare to embark on yoga and offer assistance in finding the right teacher and performing alone at home. There are tips for beginning yoga students and for overcoming common obstacles that can impede a practice.

The differences between the Western and Eastern philosophies in respect to health and the body are used as an introduction to the chapter on chakras. Western thought sees the body and mind as separate entities; Eastern thought sees them as one entity. The energy centers known as chakras the seven points within our body, each with its corresponding physical function are essential in Eastern approaches to health and wellness.

Chapter 7 introduces meditation and the various methods people use to meditate. There are helpful hints for the busy mind and some simple practices to focus the mind that can be done at the office or at home, in a backyard or on a plane.

The next two chapters focus on the benefits of yoga specifically to women and to men. Chapter 8 explores yoga and women, including female cycles, pregnancy and prenatal yoga, and perimenopause and menopause. This extensive chapter is full of helpful suggestions and information for adopting yoga and meditation for use through different life passages. The chapter on men and yoga dispels the common ”male myths surrounding yoga and explains the many benefits growing numbers of men reap from the ancient practice.

Yoga’s link to health and how yoga has been adopted in the medical and scientific communities are the focus of chapter 10. Here it is explained how yoga is being used to treat such common conditions as coronary heart disease, chronic pain, back pain, stress, arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

The concluding chapter takes yoga on the road, into the workplace, and right at home for the entire family. Here we have suggestions for incorporating yoga with travel or at the office and with busy schedules; for parents using yoga with their children; and for seniors contemplating a new yoga class or practice. And for those who want to experience yoga in a health club or spa or on a retreat, there are advice and recommendations in the final pages of the blog.

Enjoy your journey.

A Brief History of Yoga

The phenomenon of yoga has inspired a scholarly, spiritual, and personal interest in some of yoga’s ancient writings and language. There are magazines on yoga, and hundreds of articles about yoga are published yearly. But from where does all this interest stem, and how did it come about?

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