Introduction to Yoga:

Yoga, meaning "joining", was first heard of in the Western world in the 19th century, being invented by Hindu yogis over 2500 years ago. Involving physical as well as mental training, yoga will eventually affect your body, mind and spirit, and according to those who practice, may lead to spiritual enlightenment. The basic principles include proper exercise, breathing, relaxation, diet, positive thinking and meditation. Once learned you can achieve inner peace, total health, calmness and a sense of well being. Most people today practice yoga as a form of relaxation and exercise.

The various postures used while practicing yoga are known as asanas and have been developed to exercise every part of your body, thus improving the body from the outside as well as from within. It is believed that these postures can increase the flow of energy passing through your body. Some yoga sessions also involve meditation by means of using a mantra (simple word, phrase or sound) which is repeated silently or aloud. The constant repetition of positive words or phrases to oneself is believed to bring these qualities into your life.

No special equipment is needed to practice yoga but most purchase a mat, which sticks to the floor better then a towel or blanket. While practicing yoga it is best to wear loose fitting, cotton clothing without socks. All you have to do then is relax, switch off and stretch. However, depending on why you decided to start practicing yoga, there are different styles to practice. Hatha or Ashtanga yoga, which is based on stretching, twisting and strength, is best used for physically minded individuals and is done by focusing on postures and breathing. Raja yoga is mostly concerned with the mind and spiritual side of yoga.