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Yoga in Ukraine

The materials below were taken from various Internet Web sites as an introduction into the chatroom discussion at DU Community Website of May, 17, 2008.

The word yoga means "union" in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated. We can think of the union occurring between the mind, body and spirit.

What is commonly referred to as "yoga" can be more accurately described by the Sanskrit word asana, which refers to the practice of physical postures or poses.

Asana is only one of the eight "limbs" of yoga, the majority of which are more concerned with mental and spiritual well being than physical activity. In the West, however, the words asana and yoga are often used interchangeably.

What is yoga for?

The short answer is that practicing the postures, breathing exercises and meditation makes you healthier in body, mind and spirit.

Research shows that yoga helps manage or control anxiety, arthritis, asthma, back pain, blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, headaches, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, stress and other conditions and diseases. According to yoga «guru» John Tunney, doing yoga:

  • Improves muscle tone, flexibility, strength and stamina

  • Reduces stress and tension

  • Boosts self esteem

  • Improves concentration and creativity

  • Lowers fat

  • Improves circulation

  • Stimulates the immune system

  • Creates sense of well being and calm.

Developed in India, yoga is a spiritual practice that has been developing during 5,000 years or so. The original yogis did a direct spiritual experience, not symbolic ritual. So they developed yoga. Yoga means "union" in Sanskrit language.

According to the yogis, true happiness, liberation and enlightenment comes from union with the divine consciousness known as Brahman, or with Atman, the transcendent Self. The various yoga practices are a methodology for reaching that goal. In hatha yoga, for example, postures and breathing exercises help purify the mind, body and spirit so the yogi can attain union.

Advice on How to Start Doing Yoga (taken from Yoga About)

Deciding that you want to start doing yoga is the first step. It's easy to get stuck here, though. Don't be intimidated! Here is the information you will need to take that next step and start enjoying the pleasures and benefits of yoga.

1. Pick a Yoga Type

A little research will be required on your part. There are many different types of yoga classes out there, and you may be turned off if you pick one that does not suit your personality and state of physical fitness.

Take a few minutes to read my article, Overview of Yoga Styles. For most beginners, a Hatha or Vinyasa class will be most appropriate. These are basic styles, and you can always try something fancier later.

2. Find a Class

These resources will help you find a yoga class in your area. You can also check local alternative newspapers or wellness magazines for listings or do a search on the Internet for "yoga" and the name of your town.

Pick a studio that is convenient to your home or work so getting to class will be easy. Make sure you start with a basic level class. Many gyms also offer yoga classes with excellent teachers. This is a good place to start if you already belong to a gym.

3. Find Out What to Bring

On the first day, you will not need to bring much except yourself and some comfortable, breathable clothing. Read up on basic yoga equipment you will encounter. Most studios have yoga mats that can be rented.

4. Learn What to Expect

In a typical yoga class, the students place their mats facing the front of the room (often identifiable by a small altar or by the teacher's mat) in a loose grid. It's best not to line up your mat exactly with the one next to it because you and your neighbor will need some space in certain poses. The students often sit in a cross-legged position waiting for class to start or do some gentle stretching.

The teacher may start class by leading the class in chanting "om" three times. Depending on the teacher, there may be a breathing exercise or short meditation at the start of class.

This is followed by warm-up poses, more vigorous poses, then stretches and final relaxation. At any time, take Child's Pose if you need some rest.

Sometimes the teacher will go around to each student during final relaxation and give them a little massage. Most teachers end class with another round of oms.

Know that you may be a little sore the day after your first class.

5. What if I Have No Access to Yoga Classes?

While there are many great yoga books and videos available, there is no substitute from learning directly from a good teacher in a yoga class. That said, if you cannot get to a yoga class, I recommend starting with any beginner's video, as this will give you more visuals to follow than a book.

6. Dos and Don'ts

have a big meal right before class. Try eating lightly a few hours before class starts.
drink water during class, but have some before and after.
wear shoes or socks during class.

review yoga etiquette so you feel very comfortable entering an unfamiliar situation.
tell the teacher it's your first class (you probably won't be the only one).
ask the teacher for help if you need it.
look around and follow what other student are doing, especially if the teacher does not demonstrate every pose. However, keep in mind that you may be looking at more advanced students, so do not compare yourself to them.
familiarize yourself with some beginners' yoga poses before you take your first class.
come back in a few days for your next class!


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