What is Yoga? A discipline, practice, a kind of meditation, a religion? And what exactly is it for? To answer these questions, one blog post is definitely not enough; nor two, not even ten.
Despite the fact that it has seemingly become so in-vogue over the last 20 years, the history of yoga goes back some 5000 thousand years (some would say 10.000), and it comes from Indian mysticism and spirituality. It is not a religion per se but it does have its own scriptures and documented practices and beliefs, from the ancient forefathers.
At the very beginning of the 20th century, Indian Yogis started to travel to the west with the purpose of divulging this practice, explaining and demonstrating all the benefits it would bring, both in the body and soul.
Of course in western society it didn’t take long to flourish and become a real business, a huge one. Original yoga teaching would branch out into many different schools of thought and each one would tweak a different type of yoga. Of course the epic commercialisation of this practice has also become an incentive for the growth of thousands of yoga places, websites, online classes, books; all the apparently ‘’necessary” clothing and accessories, and all other related business.
Probably the most sceptical of us would see it as another exploitation of a sacred practice, and in some situations it is the case. However, if we go a little deeper, we cannot deny the effects that this “exercise” (in the broadest of its meaning) has on both our spiritual and physical selves, which can never be separated, as we well know.
Yoga has been a catalyst for change.
There must be a reason why it has been around for such a long time, and instead of declining like other passing fashions that hit their apogee and then fall back into the unknown, it would seem that the yoga addiction is here for the long run.
So just what is it about yoga that makes it so popular? Lots of words have been written to answer this question, so we have investigated through different sources and here is what we want to bring to you:
1) It is suitable for anyone, especially those who are not perfect, as teacher Jen Givler says in this nice article. The main excuse is ‘’ I cannot do yoga because I am not flexible.’’ “The point of yoga is to reconnect you to the deepest part of you – to rediscover who you are, and then carry that out into the world” says Jen . It doesn’t matter how deeply you can bend or how much balance you have; whatever the dimension or shape of your body, this will not be a discriminant factor, which leads us to point number 2;
2. It can be a demanding physical exercise which can help weight reduction and toning, as well as being invigorating. It is a common thought that it is just about stretching, and indeed it does involve a great deal; but it is also much more than that. It can become a thorough aerobic exercise and making you leaner and stronger, inside and out. In fact…
It helps to perfect your posture, and we all know that a bad posture can lead to injuries or discomfort in some organs; yoga is a way to heal that indirectly.
4. There are thousands of yoga postures (technically called ASANAS), and each of one aims for a specific part of your body or mind, even the Savasana, which is the last position of every yoga practice, and the one that everybody loves because you “just lay down in a supine position and it seems like you are doing nothing”; but instead your body is in a quiet position absorbing the benefits of the asana practise that you have just finished. (No, you cannot just do the Savasana and skip the rest, that would just not serve the purpose). It also somewhat aids relief of mild depression, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia, according to one of the most respected yoga website “yoga journals” .
On top of that, we would like to add an extra benefit to sums it up:
Yoga enhance happiness, and if you are already happy, it may be seen to make you happier. How could you not be, if your body, heart, and soul are working in perfect harmony?
If you are already a practitioner and don’t want to miss your class during your vacation, check with your concierge, as Playa del Carmen offers a huge variety of yoga centres for any kind of practice, Hatha, Ashtanga, Kundalini, Bikram, and more. If you have never tried it, perhaps you can be persuaded to give it a go; the only risk is that you may get addicted too.