Yoga is probably the oldest defined practice of self development. It's history stretches back over five thousand years when the practice first emerged in India. In his Yoga Sutras, the Indian sage Patanjali defines yoga as 'the control of activities of ones minds'.
Yoga is founded on the belief of the progress of self awareness. Through the practice of yoga an individual can gain information about their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being. In the course of knowledge and the practice of yoga; this awareness encourages the individual to adjust and changes aspects of their nature so that they become more aware of and attuned to their life.
The methods of yoga include: ethical disciplines, physical postures, breathing control and meditation.
As defined by Patanjali, classical yoga has an eight stage process of spiritual development known as the 'Eight Limbs of Yoga'. Yoga is not a series of consecutive steps, but a continuous and changing process that helps to clear away the mental obscurities that prevent individuals from seeing clearly.
The Sanskrit names for the eight limbs of yoga are:
*Yama – attitudes towards other people and our world
* Niyam – attitudes about ourselves
* Asana – practice of using/improving the body
* Pranayama – practice of using/controlling the breath
* Pratyahara – use and self-control of our senses
* Dharana – capability of directing the mind
* Dhyana – capability to interact with the object of our concentration
* Samadhi – incorporation within the object of our concentration
Benefits of Yoga:
* Weight loss and weight management
* Improved fitness and maintains a relaxed, clear mind
* Relieves joint, ligament and general aches and pains
* Healing and preventing sports injury
* Help with depression, anxiety and stress
* Improved digestion
* Increased immune system
* Relief from asthma, arthritis and a wide range of chronic conditions
* Help with insomnia