Before you read any further, try this exercise.
Take a moment and notice where you are. Pay attention to what’s around you. What do you sense and feel?
Start to take a deep breath. Inhale very slowly, letting your stomach stretch and lungs expand.
Release your breath even more slowly. Control the air as you let go and exhale through the mouth.
Repeat the breaths for as long as you feel led to. After your last breath, think about what you experienced.
You have experienced Yoga!
What Yoga Is
A Sanskrit word meaning “union,” Yoga is a discipline of many different forms that seeks to raise your consciousness and join you with your higher Self. While appearing to be the domain of mainstream White culture, Yoga was actually developed by people of color. Spiritualized in Africa and systematized in India, Yoga is designed to balance your mind, body, and energy, most commonly through practices of physical movement, deep breathing, and meditation. Yoga is practiced by many people of many cultural and spiritual backgrounds as a way to improve Self awareness, personal transformation, physical health and flexibility, and holistic inner wellness. Yoga can be practiced by anyone and everyone no matter their religion, ethnicity, or body type. Yoga is for everybody!
What Yoga Is Not
Yoga is not just another style of aerobics or exercise, and it’s not a form of gymnastics. It is not exclusive to “skinny folks” and doesn’t require you to be able to twist your body into pretzel shapes. At its most basic level, if you can breath, you can “do” Yoga! Although it’s popular in gyms and workout studios, Yoga goes beyond physical wellness and includes mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness as well. There are many forms of Yoga, most of which don’t require body movement at all!
Yoga also is not a religious system or tied to any single faith. In fact, Yoga can be incorporated into any belief system (or even non-belief system) as a positive way to live life and treat others. Different forms of Yoga are practiced all over the world by people of various faiths, from Hindus and Buddhists to Muslims and Christians.
No matter what, Yoga is not a place for judgment of others. Yoga is ever-changing and evolving, and is vast enough to welcome everyone.