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Welcome to Allspirit's Yoga Annex!

Whether you're new to Yoga or a highly accomplished Yogi there's something for you here at the All Spirit Fitness Yoga Annex. You'll find loads of resources - links and content - organized so that anything you want to know about Yoga is only a click or two away. But the Site is something more than that - it's a community of people, gathered together to learn more about Yoga's different aspects, from the postures, or Asanas, to the Yamas and Niyamas (the ethics of Yoga), and other parts of the Eightfold Path, such as breathing or Pranayama, and enlightenment or Samadhi. Whether your interest in Yoga is purely to gain physical fitness and reduce stress, or to delve into its deeper, spiritual side, you'll find much here to interest you. But do take the time to explore some of the areas outside of your usual focus - you may be surprised at what you find!

(Article continued below.)

But what exactly is Yoga anyway? Where did it come from and what's the deal with these strange words such as Shavasana and Aparigraha? Although you don't really need to know about any of this to do Yoga (and that's one of the beauties of this practice), it will enhance your experience to learn a little bit about Yoga's background. I've answered some basic questions on the FAQ page; the following covers Yoga's history and its purpose.

Yoga is one of the few disciplines that offers true union between mind, body and spirit (Tai Chi is another practice that works on the same level, and martial arts, too, can have a similar focus). In other practices, often these three elements - mind, body and spirit - are kept separate, or two are combined, but a third is left out. Most physical exercise only focuses on the body; on a more elite level, it may bring the mind into play (it takes a lot of mental discipline to run a marathon or to win a golf game). These days the mind-body exercise connection is growing stronger - the increasing popularity of Pilates and Pilates-like exercise proves that. But the spirit is still left out here. In meditation you can find a blend between mind and spirit, but not much attention is paid to the body (although it does take a certain amount of physical discipline to sit still for long periods of time). Hatha Yoga - the style of Yoga that Westerners primarily know and practice - is meant to keep the body a healthy place for the spirit to live. The mental discipline used in perfecting the postures quiets the mind and releases intuition, a function of the spirit. A good Yoga session brings a calm and stillness that mere exercise can't accomplish, and a physical sense of well-being that meditation alone lacks - and that is due to Yoga's threefold nature.

But Yoga is much more than just a discipline involving a series of poses, or Asanas. It originated in India some five thousand years ago, which explains all those odd-sounding words - they're Sanskrit. We don't know who invented Yoga any more than we know who invented the wheel, really. We do know that it was around 500 B.C. that Yoga fully became a tradition. But the Yoga of those days didn't involve some slim, serene young woman easing a group of students through poses; there was a lot more that went into it. Originally all students of Yoga were searching for union with the divine - meaning, basically, God. That's still Yoga's goal today, for those who want it. All forms of modern Yoga can be traced back to the Yoga Sutras, written by Patanjali. The exact date this text originated is unknown - it was created sometime between 300 B.C. and 100 A.D. Yoga's philosophy and practices are explained in the Sutras, which are still as valid today as they were two thousand years ago.

Next page >> Many Yogas, One Goal >> Page 1, 2

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