Yoga

Have you noticed that yoga studios seem to be popping up all over? Often, we now even see people in television shows and television commercials doing yoga. What was once considered an oddity from exotic India has made it into the American mainstream due to yoga’s multiple beneficial effects for the body, mind, and spirit (if one wishes to pursue that particular form of yoga.)

The word yoga is related to our word yoke and basically means "union" or "yoking together." The roots of yoga go all the way back to the Vedas of ancient India, a body of literature relating to all aspects of life and especially the Scriptures of the Hindu faith. The ultimate goal of the yogi was "union" with the Divine.

For most people in the West, however, yoga is used as a means for increased health, strength and flexibility, especially of the spine. This is accomplished primarily through a series of physical postures called asanas which fall under the category of yoga known as Hatha yoga, as well as various deep breathing exercises called pranayama. Pranayama induces a feeling of calm and peace while oxygenating the blood and teaching people to breathe more deeply. Americans, in particular, tend to be shallow breathers, probably due to the mostly sedentary life style that many of us have.

There are 84 classic asanas but, in 1975, a yogi named Sri Dharma Mittra came up with a "Master Yoga Chart" that has 908 postures with about 1300 variations!

You can learn more about yoga from these websites:

The American Yoga Association offers a General Yoga Information page with useful information about the history of yoga, the various types of yoga, as well as other aspects.

Yoga Journal offers a site that is more for contemporary yoga of interest to Westerners.

The Mercer County Library system also has an extensive number of books and DVDs on this topic. Some recommendations are:

"Easy yoga"

Sit with less Pain: Gentle Yoga for Meditators and Everyone Else by Jean Erlbaum
 
Pick Your Yoga Practice: Exploring and Understanding Different Styles of Yoga by Meagan McCrary
Pick Your Yoga Practice: Exploring and Understanding Different Styles of Yoga by Meagan McCrary

and

"Yoga for beginners"

We have yoga books for children such as:

Little Flower Yoga for Kids: A Yoga and Mindfulness Program to Help your Child Improve Attention and Emotional Balance by Jennifer Cohen Harper

And there are also yoga books and DVDs for specific health problems such as the very common lower back pain.

And for cancer patients: 

Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors by Tari Prinster
Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors by Tari Prinster

 I started taking yoga classes at a local studio on the advice of my chiropractor and have found it to be of significant benefit for some lower back problems that I was having. I even saw a commercial on television recently (I forget the product), but the woman was on her yoga mat in her home in what is called the downward facing dog position. This is when one has their feet and hands on the mat and the back and legs are arched up in what looks like an upside down V. Next to the woman was a cute little white dog with his front legs down and his rump up in the air in the down dog position. If I had not been taking yoga classes, I never would have gotten the humor of that scene in the commercial.

If anyone wishes to just browse the yoga section of their local branch, they can ask the librarian to simply show them the section, which has the call number of 613.7.

Gary Calderone

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