What IS yoga?
Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word, “yuj,” which means “to unify, to yoke, to join.” Carolyn Weatherson, E-RYT, succinctly defined it as “an art, a science, a discipline, and a way of being (that is) designed to lead individuals into a state of optimal health and harmony.” Yoga is not a religion and can be practised by all people, all ages and stages, and all walks of life. Yoga may include physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), energy, meditation, music, philosophy, props, chanting (mantras), and teachings.
Of the traditional types of yoga, Hatha yoga is the most commonly practiced in the Western world. Hatha yoga achieves union of mind, body, and spirit through physical fitness and discipline. Examples of popular styles of Hatha include Iyengar (precise alignment with extensive use of props and holding poses for long durations), Bikram (strict set series of 26 poses in a heated room), Kundalini (invigorating, repetitive flowing movements with a focus on moving breath up the spine), Vinyasa (typically invigorating flowing movement synchronized with the breath), and Power Yoga (fast, invigorating, and challenging cardio workout that often omits breath work and deep relaxation).
Regardless of the type of yoga or the style of Hatha yoga practised, the objective is the same: to unify body, mind, and spirit. With true union, comes peace, contentment, and good health and wellness.