What is Yoga?
The theory of yoga dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3500-1500 BCE) in the northwestern regions of South Asia. The word itself comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means union of the individual yoga practitioners and universal consciousness. The Rigveda is one of the oldest and most sacred books in human history, having been written 8-10 thousand years ago. Classical yoga is a part of this Vedic literature and was propounded by Maharishi Patanjali nearly 5000 years ago. In Patanjali’s yoga sutras, he elucidated eight limbs of yoga practice, namely - Yama (social ethics), Niyama (personal ethics), Asana (postures), Pranayama (life force), Pratyahara (turning the senses inwards), Dharana (one-pointed focus), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (merging with the self).
Yoga’s holistic approach towards one’s development was highly respected in the Vedic period as well as the Middle Ages in the Eastern Hemisphere, but was confined only to the royal and scholarly caste. It was only taught to students after passing a rigorous test. It was very traditional and rules-based. Yoga wouldn’t make its way to the Western hemisphere until the 1800’s when meditative ideas were presented at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago where it was greeted with a round of applause by representatives from all religious backgrounds. And so began, the American interest in Yoga.
Modern yoga tends to focus a little more generally in regards to the eight limbs of yoga and more on the physical and mental well-being through the practice of asanas (yoga poses). This isn’t ancient Asia, after-all! While there are many different types of yoga practiced all over the world, locally you may have heard of some types such as Power, Yin, or Restorative. Each type is different and some people prefer one type over another, but they all share the main goal of establishing a mind-body-soul connection through a combination of movement, meditation and breath-work. Yoga practice is, essentially, a moving meditation.
What Are the Benefits of Yoga?
1. Yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility. Slow movements and deep breathing increase blood flow and warm up muscles, while holding a pose can build strength.
2. Yoga helps with back pain relief.
Yoga is as good as basic stretching for easing pain and improving mobility in people with lower back pain. The American College of Physicians recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain.
3. Yoga can ease arthritis symptoms.
Gentle yoga has been shown to ease some of the discomfort of tender, swollen joints for people with arthritis, according to a Johns Hopkins review of 11 recent studies.
4. Yoga benefits heart health.
Regular yoga practice may reduce levels of stress and body-wide inflammation, contributing to healthier hearts. Several of the factors contributing to heart disease, including high blood pressure and excess weight, can also be addressed through yoga.
5. Yoga relaxes you, to help you sleep better.
Research shows that a consistent bedtime yoga routine can help you get in the right mindset and prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep.
6. Yoga can mean more energy and brighter moods.
You may feel increased mental and physical energy, a boost in alertness and enthusiasm, and fewer negative feelings after getting into a routine of practicing yoga.
7. Yoga helps you manage stress.
According to the National Institutes of Health, scientific evidence shows that yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss, and quality sleep.
8. Yoga connects you with a supportive community.
Participating in yoga classes can ease loneliness and provide an environment for group healing and support. Even during one-on-one sessions, loneliness is reduced as one is acknowledged as a unique individual, being listened to, and participating in the creation of a personalized yoga plan.
9. Yoga promotes better self-care.
Furthermore, It can be done by anyone, anywhere, with little to no equipment. For more information, please consider visiting: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.
Yoga for Karate Practitioners
The obvious benefit of adding yoga to your life as a karate practitioner is becoming more flexible for those high kicks, right? While you will certainly get a good stretch and your kicks will get higher, there’s a better reason to add yoga to your schedule. As mentioned, yoga practice isn’t just about stretching, it’s how skillfully we communicate and act in any given situation. Yoga is a mind skill. Sounding familiar?
In karate, the ability to remain centered in adverse situations is just as essential as it is in yoga. While the physical practice of yoga postures make the body healthy, strong, and flexible, the breath-work and meditation associated with yoga creates a mind that is also healthy, strong, and flexible. These attributes are equally important in karate. Combining yoga with your karate training will further develop your mind and body’s abilities so you can deepen your understanding of karate and help you become the best version of yourself. All of our students have access to these classes at no additional charge!