by Pooja Erica Andersen
Yoga is much more than the poses seen in magazines; it is a total science for living and being. This ancient science, practiced for over 5,000 years, provides clear methodologies that include how-to steps for self-improvement. We often think of yoga as a physical practice; however, the yoga sciences deal with body, breath, mind, soul, the universe and, ultimately, our own enlightenment.
What one will find in practicing many forms of yoga will bring balance and health to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of being. Much of the teachings are practical and easy to apply to life. For example, numerous medical studies report that by adding a daily yogic breathing practice of pranayama, one can lower stress, blood pressure and cholesterol. In addition, practicing yoga poses and meditation daily can reduce anxiety and depression.
However, medical studies have only just begun to pull the curtain back on all the benefits that yoga provides. Much of the teachings remain on a theoretical basis in our Western world, but open for us to see for ourselves through the experience of what they will bring to our lives.
The yoga practices have been captured in ancient writings that have been passed down from generation to generation. In the U.S., the Yoga Alliance sets standards that teachers must meet to be certified to teach others. Teachers identify themselves as certified with RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher).
Whether looking to improve health, find balance or become enlightened, the teachings can meet us wherever we are on our journeys. Finding the right teacher may require visiting several yoga centers and trying different classes of various styles. Take time to read about the class descriptions and talk to the teacher about your goals. For instance, if trying to reduce chronic back pain, look for classes or a yoga therapist that mention back pain reduction as part of the benefits.
Mastering the perfect yoga pose is a pretty picture for magazines, but it’s not the goal of yoga. Yoga provides instruction based on scientific principles to enhance our life and overall being.
Pooja Erica Andersen is the Yoga Director of the Chalfont Yoga and Meditation Center, a Svaroopa yoga and meditation instructor and a yoga and embodyment therapist. Connect with her at ChalfontYogaAndMeditationCenter.com. September 2015.