The human body is a complex yet sophisticated mechanism. Even with immense advancements in technology and robotics, we still cannot match the dexterity and capabilities of the human body; however, it is still susceptible to damage, which is why taking care of it becomes essential. Thankfully, movement is the key to a healthy body, and among all the practices, Yoga is a complete discipline that not only aids in physical performance but it helps in achieving mental peace as well. Here are some interesting facts about Yoga:
Yoga is a Sanskrit word that is derived from the root word Yuj, which means to join or to harness. While most people think that yoga is solely for physical wellbeing, its meaning state otherwise. According to Vedvyasa, the sage who wrote the Yoga Sutras says that yoga is achieved once a person steps into a Samadhi, a trance-like state where enlightenment is achieved. Presently, yoga is stated as a union with the universe.
2. Mysterious Origins
The true origins of yoga are as convoluted as the birth of the universe, while there are many theories, none is proven true, and seeing our limitations, these may never get proven. Similarly, there are three theories about the origins of yoga. The first theory, also referred to as the Linear Model, states that yoga was developed through Vedas in ancient India. Whereas the second theory, or Synthesis Model, states that yoga didn’t derive from the Vedic texts, but it was developed by renunciates. Lastly, some heightened sages claim that the teachings of yoga were given to humans by Lord Shiva himself, as he is considered the first Yogi.
3. Yoga can be Lethal
While the benefits of yoga are unparalleled, it’s not completely risk-free. As yoga was designed to achieve Nirvana, an untrained mind and body can experience extreme strains during the practice that can be permanent. Thankfully, this aspect of yoga is only practiced by renunciates and sages.
4. Live for Ages
Yoga puts a strong emphasis on breathing patterns. In Sanskrit, breath is referred to as Prana, which literally means life. Gaining control of breathing is the basis for most yogic practices, and yogis believe each person is born with a limited number of breaths, and once those are exhausted, death is inevitable; however, slowing down the pace at which one breathes can increase one’s lifespan regardless of the time elapsed. Interestingly, there are recorded cases of yogis alive for over 200 hundred years in remote areas of the Himalayas because of this technique.
5. Source of Many Combat Arts
This ancient practice is also considered to be the basis of most combat forms, including karate and kung fu. According to the lore, in the sixth century, Buddhist monks used to meditate for hours or even days, and with no physical activity, their bodies were becoming weaker. Therefore, monks were introduced to the Shaolin Temple by Prince Bodhidharma, here, they trained their bodies using yoga. This practice later became kung fu. Moreover, during the 17th-century invasion of Okinawa, armed forces captured the weapons of monks, and they used martial arts to defend themselves.
6. The Modern Yoga
Despite the spiritual background of this practice, it is largely used as a form of exercise, which is also immensely popular. The United States was first acquainted to the ways of Yoga in 1893 by Swami Vivekananda during the Parliament of Religions conference held in Chicago. Plus, Swami Vivekananda was an enlightened being, and his presence alone touched the hearts of millions of Americans. This interaction made thousands of Americans implement yoga in their lives. Following this, Paramahansa Yogananda was the second teacher who blessed citizens of America in 1920 with insights into the life of a yogi. Many other heightened yogis also gave their teaching in the United States, and all the events cemented the path for yoga in the modern world.
7. Not limited to Stretching
Despite the endless possibilities that yoga offers, most people are under the impression that it is just a casual stretching technique. Yoga provides excellent strength and flexible muscles. Most people dismiss strength yoga because it doesn’t result in the presently accepted definition of a muscular build.
8. Types of Yogas
Currently, there are 14 different types of accepted yoga in the world. These are:
- Hatha Yoga- Most modern yogas are branched from this type. This is also the most popular form of yoga.
- Anusara Yoga- Developed by John Friend in 1997 to allow people to unlock their emotions and feelings.
- Iyengar Yoga- This is similar to Hatha Yoga; however, it is exclusively performed using props.
- Ashtanga Yoga- Ashtanga Yoga is all about the alignment of breath with yoga poses. There are only six poses in this type.
- Vinyasa Yoga- Vinyasa means to flow, and this yoga is closer to a dance form with its fluid stances.
- Power Yoga- Another modern take on yoga that was developed in 1995 by Bender Birch. This is a combination of Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga.
- Bikram Yoga- Also known as Hot Yoga, this technique is similar to Hatha Yoga, except it is performed in a heated room. It was developed by Bikram Choudhury.
- Restorative Yoga- As the name suggests, this is to restore physical and mental balance after an injury. It is a passive form of yoga.
- Kundalini Yoga- Kundalini is one of the seven chakras in the human body. It exists at the base of our spine. It is described as a coil of a snake, and the entire practice of Kundalini Yoga is aimed at the awakening of this chakra.
- Ananda Yoga- Developed by Paramhansa Yogananda, this is a silent form of yoga, where the aim is to propel the body’s energy upwards.
- Forrest Yoga- Ana T. Forrest worked with Hatha Yoga and created her own form of yoga aimed at healing.
- Yin Yoga- This form of Yoga is focused on the health of connective tissues, and it was developed by Paulie Zink in 1970.
- Kripalu Yoga- Kripalu comes from the word Kripa, which means grace. This form of yoga focuses on generating compassion and letting go of the judgments.
- Yoga Nidra- This is a form of yoga that focuses on achieving yoga during sleep. Lucid dreaming is a form of Yoga Nidra as well.
9. Very Popular
As it offers so many benefits, it isn’t surprising that nearly 36 million people in the United States practice yoga regularly, and interestingly, 72% of these people are women. As the number of people wanting to try yoga is increasing, so does the number of teachers. In 2016, there were over 50,000 registered yoga teachers. If this wasn’t enough, there are nearly a billion posts related to yoga on Instagram.
10. Its Own Day
Since 2015, each year, 21 June is celebrated as International Yoga Day. This idea was proposed by the 14th prime minister of India, Narendra Damodardas Modi, during the United Nations General Assembly in 2014.
11. An Effective Treatment for Mental Disorders
Although mental diseases like psychosis and schizophrenia are severe with no proven treatment, yoga is considered feasible for such disorders. Practicing yoga on the regular basis can increase levels of a chemical called oxytocin, which is responsible for overall reproductive health. Researchers are unaware of exactly how yoga is helpful in mental disorders, but it is certain that practicing yoga as an add-on to medication can treat the mentioned disorders along with depression and anxiety.
12. Oldest Yoga Teacher
While Yoga is not limited to any age, it still comes as a surprise to know that the oldest yoga teacher is 85-years-old. Bette Calman is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records, and she has also been on numerous talk shows. Presently, she is 95-years-old; however, she taught yoga until the age of 87.
13. Also a Sport
Presently, yoga competitions are held worldwide to promote a healthy lifestyle. As soon as it was converted into a sport, people from around the world started taking part in it.