The science and practice of yoga began over 6,000 year ago in Southeast Asia, but it was only in the last 50 years that Yoga found its way across the continents to take root in American culture. The practice of Yoga was first introduced by several Yogi Masters around the turn of the last century in India, but Yoga as we know it today has its seed of origin within the Yoga Sutras written by Patanjali around 800 B.C. But the true history of Yoga can be divided into the four categories. The Vedic Yoga, Pre-Classical Yoga, Classical Yoga, and the Post-Classical Yoga are the categories of Yoga that can help define the history of this fitness program that is so popular today. The history that was involved in creating the path for Yoga has been so deep in its roots but there are other interesting things about this very popular fitness program. Not only has Yoga been proven scientifically to be a healthy activity but it has been a great tool in reducing obesity and curing some diseases.
Yoga may seem like a very simple physical activity that involves very low athletic skill, but this paper will show that even through these simple physical activities, this popular fitness program has given many Americans a healthier lifestyle and a better sense of their own being.
The first of the four categories, Vedic Yoga, was intimately connected with the ritual life of the ancient Indians. Its central teaching is to the point: To be alive means to be active and, if people want to avoid difficulties for themselves and others, their actions must be benign and also go beyond the grip of the ego. Transcendence of the body and mind is vital in order for people to discover their true nature. The Classical Yoga process brings about the separation between the body and the mind, thereby restoring the spirit in its absolute purity. The formulation is generally characterized as philosophical dualism. This is important because most of India’s philosophical systems favor one or the other kind of non-dualism. The last category is the Post-Classical Yoga. This category of Yoga affirms the ultimate unity of everything in the world. In this Yoga, it is believed that everyone or everything else is an aspect or expression of one and the same reality. The different categories and theories of Yoga have aided the process of crossing this physical fitness program over to the American culture.
There are several types of Yoga fitness programs that have evolved in the United States. The first of these is the Ananda Yoga, which focuses on gentle postures intending to move energy up to the brain and prepare the body for meditation. This Yoga also focuses on proper body alignment and controlled breathing. Controlled breathing involves three different types according to its rate. There is the normal and natural steady breathing without any particular effort. There is also the deep breathing, which involves bringing breathing speeds to a minimum with some extra efforts. And finally there is the last controlled breathing method which is fast breathing with extra efforts to increase breathing speed.
The next Yoga program is called the Ashtanga Yoga, a fast paced series of sequential poses that focuses on strength, flexibility, and building heat. Breathing, focal point meditation, and equanimity (the quality of being calm and even-tempered; composed) are all important also. The third Yoga program is called Bikram Yoga, which calls on 26 different poses that are always repeated in the same order. Bikram Yoga studios are heated to approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit to simulate the climate in India. This heat also serves to make the muscles very flexible.
Integral Yoga, a traditional type of yoga, combines postures, breathing exercises, meditation, chanting, prayer, and self-inquiry. ISHTA (Integral Science of Hatha and Tantric Arts) was developed by South African teacher Mani Finger and popularized by his son in the United States, Alan. This Yoga focuses on opening energy channels throughout the body with postures, visualizations, and meditation. The Iyengar Yoga calls for poses that are held for a longer period of time.
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