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By Bess Gallanis
Warner BooksCopyright © 2006 Bess Gallanis, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneYoga's Ancient Beginnings
Yoga originated in India more than five thousand years ago. Inspired by Hindu mythology and later influenced by Buddhism, it is an ancient lifestyle that promotes natural approaches to health and wellness. Though many people seek spirituality through their yoga practice, it is not a religion in the traditional sense. Yoga is the philosophy of uniting the mind, body, and spirit: One who is at peace with herself is in harmony with other people, nature, and the universe. Nearly two thousand years ago, an Indian philosopher named Patanjali defined yoga in a book called the Yoga Sutra. Patanjali condensed thousands of years of yoga tradition into 195 brief passages that defined the health practices, breathing exercises, meditation practices, and moral code of the yoga lifestyle.
After Yoga Sutra was published, yoga continued to evolve. Sri T. Krishnamacharya, an influential Indian teacher and healer who lived during the twentieth century, taught people how to coordinate their breath while performing a continuous series of poses to create the active yoga practice called Flow yoga.
Building on his work, three of Krishnamacharya's students developed their own yoga styles that define contemporary yoga practices. Pattabhi Jois developed Ashtanga yoga,also known as power yoga. B. K. S. Iyengar developed the Iyengar style of yoga, which is also referred to as gentle yoga. He taught people to adapt yoga poses to their physical ability by using props like blocks, straps, chairs, and bolsters. T. K. V. Desikachar introduced Viniyoga, which promotes yoga practice as a vehicle for self-discovery and personal growth.
The Yoga Sutra summarizes the main principles of the yoga lifestyle in the Eight-Limbed Path. The Eights Limbs are moral discipline, self-reflection, exercise and healthy habits, controlling the breath, looking inward without becoming distracted, sustained concentration, meditation, and finding ultimate peace.
It would take a lifetime of study and devotion to each of the Eight Limbs to have a full appreciation for what it takes to travel the yoga path to finding ultimate peace. In Yoga Chick we practice the basics: yoga poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. Once you get the hang of these fundamental skills, you will be well on your way to a healthy and natural lifestyle.
Excerpted from Yoga Chick by Bess Gallanis Copyright © 2006 by Bess Gallanis, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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