The Practice of Yoga


Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. According to an article called “A Short History of Yoga“, yoga originated from over 5,000 years ago from India. Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline which originated in India.

Yoga is good for the mind and soul as well the body. There are many different types of yoga that focuses on different things  such as yoga for strength, yoga for flexibility and yoga for weight loss.

According to the American Yoga Association the most well known schools of yoga include Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Tantra Yoga, and Kashmir Shaivism Yoga.

Hatha Yoga: The physical movements and postures, plus breathing techniques. This is what most people associate with Yoga practice.

Raja Yoga: Called the “royal road,” because it incorporates exercise and breathing practice with meditation and study, producing a well-rounded individual.

Jnana Yoga: The path of wisdom; considered the most difficult path.

Bhakti Yoga: The practice of extreme devotion in one-pointed concentration upon one’s concept of God.

Karma Yoga: All movement, all work of any kind is done with the mind centered on a personal concept of God.

Tantra Yoga: A way of showing the unseen consciousness in form through specific words, diagrams, and movements. One of the diagrams that is used to show the joining of the physical and spiritual bodies is two triangles superimposed upon one another.

The downward-pointing triangle represents the physical body, or the female aspect having to do with work, action, and movement; the upward-pointing triangle represents the spiritual body of support, energy, and vastness.

Kashmir Shaivism: This Yoga system states that everything in the universe has both male and female qualities. In Kashmir Shaivism, these male and female principles form an equal partnership, so interdependent that they cannot be separated. The attraction between them produces the ultimate union of opposites, creating the immense complexity of the universe that we enjoy and celebrate.

I was interested in starting yoga because I wanted to become more flexible again. Being a cheerleader for 11 years helped me gain flexibility, but after I stopped I realized how inflexible I had become.  For Christmas I asked for a yoga mat and DVDs to help me learn more about yoga and its practice.

Within a week of yoga training for flexibility I could see myself making progress. I could touch my toes easily when I leaned forward.

I am most interested in yoga inversions. Types of yoga inversions include handstands, headstands, shoulder stands, and forearm balance. Inversions help strengthen your core  abdominal muscles, legs, arms and back.

Yoga fascinates me because it teaches you about your body and how to bend it in intricate ways. Seeing pictures of these difficult, advanced level yoga inversions pushes me to keep trying new things. I set goals so I can see myself making progress.

yoga inversions   ICP Fulltime Student Career Day, Wednesday, June 29, 2005. Credit: ©Barry Stone 2005   sidecrow2-edit-298




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