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If you have ever taken a few brief moments to breathe deeply or gently stretch your body, you have actually practiced some natural yoga. Yoga is more than 6000 years old and originates from ancient East Indian philosophies. In its pure form, yoga can later consciousness. The original goals of this art were the liberation of the body from earthly desires, as well as a cleansing and quieting of the mind. A discipline unifying mind, body and spirit, yoga is a primary source of all mind body fitness programs. Today hatha yoga (yoga for strength) is the most commonly practiced. This form of yoga consists of a blend of body postures, gentle stretching, breathing exercises and meditation and relaxation techniques. These balance and modulate opposing ebergy forces in the body leading toward improved health, well being and inner peace.

The eight paths

Yoga gradually transforms the body, mind and soul and invigorates you with a new strength. Supposedly, whoever practices yoga consistently and correctly acquires greater health and wisdom. Classical yoga follows 8 guidelines summarized in the 8 paths:

  1. Yama - correct moral code
  2. Niyama - self discipline
  3. Asana - postures
  4. Pranayama - breathing
  5. Pratahara - moving inward toward the self
  6. Dharana - concentration
  7. Dhyana - meditation
  8. Samadhi - oneness

The treatment
The postures begin with proper breathing and relaxation techniques. You may choose from more than 80 basic postures, which are held from a few seconds to several minutes. Perform the exercises cautiously and consistently, stretching just until you reach a comfortable limit.

If you practice yoga regularly, you will soon discover surprising changes in yourself, even after a short period of time. Yoga strengthens mental and spiritual balance. It will make you more content and composed. You will be able to cope better with daily demands, stress, a hectic pace and worries will recede.

Yogic breathing
Relaxed, regular deep breathing plays a significant role in the effectiveness of yoga postures. According to ancient yoga texts, life energy is taken into the body along with the breath. This energy reaches into all regions of the body, giving them strength. Life energy flows unimpeded through the body of a composed, healthy human. If this flow is obstructed, you may feel sick. Yoga postures remove obstructions, enhancing energy. Well being and inner peace are restored.

Daily Ritual : The best time to practice yoga are in the morning before breakfast and in the evening before dinner.

Proven effective for alleviating muscle tension, joint problems, chronic pain, nervousness, anxiety and sleep disorders; for promoting spiritual balance and focus and for strengthening body, mind and spirit

Types of Yoga

A qualified instructor can help determine what type of yoga is best for you. Classes may be found in fitness centers or schools.

Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga emphasizes both postures and gentle stretching within each position. Some teachers of this technique focus on physical poses while others concentrate more on relaxation, breathing and meditation.

Raja Yoga
This is more meditative type of yoga, focusing less on strength.

Ashtanga yoga
This form of yoga combines both the physical and cognitive elements.

Kundalini and Tantra Yoga
These types of yoga focus on activating the energy centers of the body called chakras.

Hatha yoga positions

Diamond sitting position
This exercise improves poor circulation in the feet and lower legs, stimulates digestion and combats tension and sleep problems. This position may be used for meditation exercises. Kneel on the flow with knees close together; slowly sit back on your heels. Stretch your upper body erect and place your hands on your knees and close your eyes. Holding the posture, slowly take several deep breaths in and out, focusing on the steady rise and fall of your abdomen.

Tree position
This position loosens shoulders and promotes balance. Stand with feet slightly apart and facing forward. Breathe in; place the flat of your right foot against your left inner thigh. Breathe naturally. Slowly raise your arms over your head, palms together, and stretch them straight up. Hold the stetch as you breathe in. as you breathe out, lower arms and leg. Repeat on the other side.