Yoga is a very broad category of holistic, physical, psychological, and spiritual practices or philosophies that originate in ancient India, intended at suppressing and controlling the mind, and realizing the unshakable detachment ‘atmani’. Yoga has many interpretations and is the subject of academic debate. Most modern approaches to Yoga emphasize the philosophy of individual freedom with a strong focus on ritualistic practices. It is also typically considered as a religion. Yoga, though originally practiced as a physical discipline, has been theorized to have spiritual underpinnings as well. There are countless styles of Yoga, such as Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Raja Yoga, etc.
In recent years, Yoga has been subject to much criticism from Western medical professionals who have questioned its effectiveness in the treatment of certain ailments. Much attention has been devoted to the use of Yoga in the relief of postures (called the ‘asanas’), which are designed to attain certain health goals. For example, in Ayurvedic medicine, a series of asanas (or positions) is used to treat diseases and conditions. Many practitioners believe these asanas, or postures, have therapeutic effects that aid digestion, increase lung capacity, enhance energy levels and improve immunity. The proponents of Ayurveda, however, dispute this claim.
Yoga can be classified into several types. These types include, but are not limited to Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, etc. All of these Yoga styles teach meditative breathing techniques, physical exercises, relaxation, meditation, yet with some differences. Some proponents of these different styles of Yoga believe that certain postures or breathing techniques aid certain conditions. They combine Yoga with other therapies such as psychotherapy, hypnosis and aromatherapy to help patients recover from certain physical or mental conditions.
Modern yoga is often considered by practitioners as a vehicle to reach enlightenment. They say that it can help those who have difficulty staying on task or focusing because of mental strain. Yoga offers exercise, mental stimulation, relaxation, inner search, and spiritual growth. This view is similar to that of many who consider meditation to be the key to unlock the secret doors of enlightenment.
The aim of modern yoga is to unite the mind, body, spirit, and environment, thereby achieving harmony, unity, and balance. It is said that physical well-being is the result of a balanced mind and body. By practicing meditation, yoga, etc., one can learn to meditate and become calm, at ease, calm and focused. Thus, they say, one can achieve self-actualization.
The origin of yoga is credited to the ancient Hindu teacher Lord Brahma. He taught yoga in the Himalayas, and his followers refined and developed it into an intricate system of postures, breathing techniques, meditative practices, exercises, worship, and rituals. These practices are still popular among the followers of yoga in the Western countries. Some of the most popular types of yoga are Hatha yoga, which is a style of simple asana practice; Jnana yoga, which is an advanced practice of meditation; Sarnath yoga, a traditional Indian form of discipline; Kundalini yoga, a practice focusing on the Kundalini gland that gives off much of its energy during physical activities; and Yin Yoga, a practice of using simple breathing techniques to relax the mind. Each of these different styles of yoga are thought to have healthful effects on the body.