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Yoga its History and Benefits

Western interest in yoga is increasing at a fascinating speed. What was considered an Eastern practice from centuries past has now become a household word and openly broadcast across the world. What was ridiculed as a bizarre fad is today recognized as a basic tool for well-being; and those who looked upon yoga with cynicism have now embraced it as a way of life. Yoga has come full circle to its own. The reason is very simple and clear. Modern technology has adorned modern life with unimaginable amenities. Modern technology, which has shaped the contemporary society in a big way, has begun to demand a heavy price in terms of human relationship and personal happiness. The environment, lifestyle, and food habits are the victims of modern technology. Cutthroat competition has become the way of modern life.

Yoga and Exercise

Throughout much of history mere survival demands a level of physical activity that made rest an ultimate luxury. Rarely have people been able to be sedentary that they needed to exercise apart from their routine of daily living. But today's industrialized world most people do not have to hunt or fish or work in the fields to get food. They do not have to walk or run long distances to et from one place to another, or chop down trees to build shelters and make fires.  Most of us sit while we work, sit while we travel, sit during our leisure time. Office work can be hell on your back and shoulders. You sit all day, balancing the phone on your shoulder, twisting from the filing cabinet to the computer and back again if you suffer from the constraints of a desk job.

If you have enough energy and muscle tone to walk up the occasional flight of stairs, mow the grass on the weekends, walk the dogs, and bend down to open the dishwasher, you may feel you have no reason or need to take up an exercise.

Testimonials to yoga are not lacking among the sages of the past. More than 600,000 years ago the Lord Shiva discovered the wisdom and lore of this art. 100 BC Cicero observed yoga and temperance can preserve something of our strength in old age. Aristotle stressed the need for exercise to maintain a healthy mind in a healthy body. In Mishneh Torah, the 12th Century Jewish scholar and physician Rabbi Moses Maimondes, strongly recommended daily exercise and warned that anyone who sits around idly and takes no exercise will be subject to physical discomforts and failing strength. The 18th Century British physician Addison said that exercise ferments the human casts into their proper channels, throws off redness, and helps nature in the secret distribution without which the body cannot subsist in its vigor nor the soul act with cheerfulness. In the United States Exercise and fitness were popular with the Founding Fathers, among them Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The latter was particularly fond of walking: Habituate yourself to walk fast without fatigue, he once said.

Having considered the importance of exercise, let us now discuss yoga.

The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root word yuj and suffixed dhya meaning to bind, or join or unite. It is allied to the English word yoke, the German word joch and the Latin jungo. Yoga thus literally means the union of man with God.

Yoga does serve as an easy, pleasant road to self-discovery and well-being and will help any one willing to approach it with an open mind. There is no need to devote more time to do it each day than it takes to smoke a cigarette, drink a cup of coffee and listen to newscasts or partake of breakfast or lunch or dinner. Yoga can make the difference from feeling pretty good to feeling terrific.

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga conditions your heart and arteries and respiratory system. It increases stamina and general fitness. It promotes the cleansing of the blood by stimulating circulation. It gives a sense of strength and well-being, in part by releasing endorphins, the opiate-like molecules in the brain that can make you high, happy, and more tolerant of discomfort. It increases the flow of oxygen to all organs enabling them to work more efficiently. It burns calories, and strengthens the immune system. It reduces stress. It lowers cholesterol.It tones the nervous system.It is highly effective at building strength, endurance, posture and flexibility from exercises and poses that are easy and simple. Yoga differs from other forms of exercise because it co-ordinates one's breath with the movement of one's body.

Thus yoga benefits both the body and mind bringing energy and balance. It is helpful to women who are currently in menopause or in transition to menopause because their hormone levels and body chemistry may be fluctuating rapidly.

Yoga exercises level out the physiological instability by relaxing and gently stretching every muscle in the body, promoting blood circulation and oxygenation to all cells and tissue. This helps to optimize the function of the endocrine glands and the organs of the female reproductive tract, improve the health and well-being of the digestive tract, nervous system and all other organs and systems.