There are many different ideas related to Yoga, where it comes from, what it is all about, and how to practice a range of techniques.
Generally, it is recognised as an ancient system of philosophies, principles and practices derived from the Vedic tradition of India and the Himalayas, more than 2500 years ago. It is a system that recognises the multi-dimensional nature of the human person, and primarily relates to the nature and workings of the mind, based on experiential practice and self-enquiry.
In Yoga, the body, breath and mind are seen as a union of these multi-dimensional aspects of each and every human being. The system and various techniques of Yoga cultivate the experience of that union, leading to greater integration of being, internal peacefulness, and clarity of the mind. It is a system that is designed to cultivate health and happiness, and a greater sense of self-awareness and higher consciousness.
Yoga cultivates health and wellbeing (physical, emotional, mental and social) through the regular practice of a range of many different techniques, including postures and movement, breath awareness and breathing exercises, relaxation and concentration, self-inquiry and meditation.
Yoga is an approach to life that values appropriate effort, based on balance and harmony, within each person and with each other.
Research into the benefits of yoga
Quality research is important for any field of well-being, health-care and personal development. It could be argued that the practice of yoga has undergone hundreds of years of research through the trialling of the ancient practitioners, who in turn observed the effects upon their students.
However in our contemporary context, we expect that protocols, interventions and other activities that form part of our well-being or health-care plan can ‘stand the test’ of our contemporary research methods.
In recent years there have been a growing number of well designed studies into the health benefits of yoga. These show that the practice of yoga is safe, useful and very cost effective for a wide range of conditions and life-stages
Yoga Australia continues to keep informed of the latest research and has compiled a representative list of some of the areas of research undertaken in the past few years.
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What happens in a typical yoga class?
Yoga classes vary, depending on the particular style or tradition of the teacher or school. Participants may often practice on yoga/exercise mats.
A common yoga class typically includes:
- An introduction, possibly including some breathing exercises and/or relaxation
- A Physical warm up
- Yoga postures, movements and stretches
- Relaxation and/or meditation.
Meditation is usually an integral part of yoga and many yoga teachers may offer classes dedicated to the practice of meditation. Participants usually practise either on cushions on the floor, or seated on chairs. A dedicated meditation class typically includes:
- An introduction possibly including breathing exercises, relaxation and some inspirational readings
- A number of mental focusing and meditation practices
- Returning to an outward focus and brief discussion
Classes generally span 1 – 1½ hours.
Cost per classes typically varies from $10 – $25 depending on time, location and the teacher’s experience.