Translated literally Yoga means “union” or “contact.” The word ‘yoke” comes from the same Sanskrit root. One can think of Yoga as a bridge between a person’s individual soul and universal consciousness. The objective of Yoga is to unite the body, the mind, and the spirit. Yoga is non-denominational, and therefore, is not a religion.
There are three main principles in the practice of Yoga. The first objective in the practice of yoga is to cleanse or purify the body. The next is to gain control of one’s body through exercises and postures. Breathing techniques stimulate the nervous system and serve to purify the body as well.
When one enters a class, all students are seated in chairs. They usually are seated in a circle so people face one another. Other times, people may be sitting in chairs all facing the teacher.
The teacher begins with an intention. She or he may provide one for you or you may be asked to think of your own intention for practice that day. For example, we often focus on gratitude as an intention for a yoga class.
The teacher next asks students to put their hands at heart center and may Om or chant an Om as she or he moves into the practice. Our classes last 40 minutes as we do not want to exhaust anyone. Yoga should never hurt or injure the student.
One thing to remember that holding a pose strengthens one’s body as well. In fact, holding a pose is actually more difficult that doing strenuous exercise. When you sit and focus on your breathing, as your instructor takes you on an inner journey, you will be shown ways to unite the body, and the spirit to achieve new heights of physical vitality and emotional serenity.