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Yoga is a comprehensive system of physical, mental, and spiritual practices that emerged in ancient India.

Objectives include establishing a harmonious connection between the body, mind, and spirit. Yoga encompasses various schools and traditions, each offering unique approaches to achieving balance and well-being.

The origins of yoga can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization, around 3000 BC. The practice evolved over time, gaining prominence in India, and becoming intertwined with religious and philosophical traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

Buddhism incorporated yogic practices to develop mindfulness and cultivate insight. The Buddha himself practiced meditation and mindfulness, emphasizing the importance of being fully present in each moment.

In Hinduism, yoga is considered one of the six orthodox schools of philosophy, known as Darshanas. The practice is viewed as a means to attain self-realization and union with the divine. The Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture, describes yoga as the path to spiritual enlightenment.

Jainism, another ancient Indian religion, incorporates yoga as a tool for self-discipline and spiritual growth. Jain yoga focuses on purifying the soul and attaining liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

In addition to these traditional schools of yoga, which are still practiced, we also have modern Western yoga, which combines and adapts various elements from different traditions. While some Western yoga practices retain religious elements, including those from Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, as well as New Age spirituality, others are secular and focus primarily on physical exercise, stress reduction, and relaxation techniques.

As therapy, yoga is a gentle form of exercise and relaxation to improve health. Usually, this form of yoga is postural, and conducted in multi-person classes and sometimes involves meditation, imagery, and calming music. While some practitioners hold that yoga has the power to heal, better-supported claims acknowledge its medical and psychological benefits for individuals with low back pain, depression, and sports medicine.

The practice of yoga as exercise consists mainly of postures, flowing sequences of gentle movement, and breathing exercises, often culminating with relaxation or meditation. This form of yoga is adapted from Hatha yoga, although its non-postural practices, such as purifications, are greatly reduced or absent. Still, it is commonly simply called yoga.

Postures were not a central point of any of the older yoga traditions, but were popularized in the 1920s by yoga gurus, who emphasized the health benefits of yoga.

Commercial yoga classes are more likely to emphasize exercise over spirituality, although yoga practices may vary from wholly secular to undeniably spiritual. Yoga is a profitable business today, involving classes, teacher certification, and special clothing and accessories.

Yoga is labeled, branded, and packaged in multiple ways to serve the people and the products associated with it.

Whatever the school or tradition, yoga is characterized by a range of practices, including physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), meditation, ethical principles, and philosophical teachings. These practices are designed to cultivate physical strength, flexibility, mental clarity, emotional well-being, and spiritual awareness.

Yoga is believed to be useful in improving general wellness by relieving stress, supporting good health habits, and improving mental and emotional health, sleep, and balance. It has also been used to relieve neck pain, migraines, pain associated with knee osteoarthritis, and lower back pain. It may also be used as part of the treatment for weight loss, smoking cessation, and substance use disorders. People with chronic diseases sometimes use yoga to help manage symptoms and improve their quality of life.



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