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The History of Yoga

In recent years, yoga has gained popularity, became a trend, and has helped many worldwide. While most of the original poses have been altered to fit modern society, yoga has still shown to be effective, especially when helping people with their mental health. Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices and it’s important to acknowledge the history behind it because it’s so much more than sitting criss-cross-applesauce, closing your eyes, and saying “OM”. In this post, we will be talking about the history of yoga, how it helps from a psychological perspective, and why you should think about trying the practice out for yourself. 

What is yoga?

Let’s start with what yoga even is and get the basic gist of the discipline. Yoga is a practice that encompasses breathing technique, postures, strengthening exercises, and meditation. The different types of yoga are Hatha, Lyengar, Kundalini, Bikram, Ananda, Vivnoya, and Anusara. The most popular in the US is Hatha Yoga. Yoga emphasizes a spiritual connection between the mind and body. Yoga was first created over 5000 or more years ago in India. The word “yoga” originates from the word “yuj” in Sanskrit meaning “unite”. Yoga was a Hindu practice created to control the senses and the mind. It was made to create peace, rejuvenate the body, and prolong life.

Yoga’s Transition to the West

Swami Vivekananda introduced yoga to North America in 1893 at the World Parliaments of Religion in Chicago. In 1920 Paramahansa Yogananda visited Boston and introduced yoga to the liberals religions conference he was attending. He wrote “The Autobiography of Yogi” which helped bring yoga to North America. By 1961, yoga began to air on television networks bringing it into the public eye. Yoga became very popular as a form of exercise and path of enlightenment all across North America in 1990

What is OM?

OM is a mantra or vibration that is said to be the sound of the universe. It is to remind us that the entire universe is moving. People who do yoga often chant OM because it is the basic sound of the universe. By chanting it they are symbolically and physically connecting themselves with nature. It also is a form of meditation. The sound slows down the nervous system and calms the mind. 

Many people aren’t sure how to pronounce “OM”, so we’ll teach you. It consists of four syllables A, U, M and the silent syllable. The first syllable is pronounced awe, coming from the throat. The second syllable is pronounced oo with the sound gradually rolling out of your mouth. The third syllable is pronounced as long held mmm with your front teeth gentle touching. The fourth syllable is the silent syllable, it is the deep silence of the infinite.

Psychological Benefits

  • Decreases stress
  • Recognizes self-acceptance 
  • Reduces anxiety 
  • Eliminates hostility 
  • Calms you down
  • Supports concentration 
  • Improves mood
  • Elevates attention-driven skills
  • Lowers overall risks of developing a mental illness

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