So what is yoga, really? Yoga is an ancient Indian body of knowledge that dates back more than 500 years ago. However, some have found that it's actually older. Predating almost every holy text by several hundred years. The word 'Yoga' comes from the Sanskrit word 'yuj'; meaning to 'unite or integrate'. Fun right? Yes. What makes the physical side of yoga so appealing is the no-impact style it has. No bouncing. No running in place. In fact, most yoga classes bring the 'environment' down a bit to help calm and relax everyone. What is actually not understood very well, for the most part by westerners, is that yoga is and was suppose to more than just the physical side. Generically, yoga was a practice to allow yogis the mediate and quiet for longer periods of time. It was a practice to aid those that were using japa mala, kurtan, or various other forms of worship to god. In modern yoga, the only real practice other than the physical part, that is close to the traditional is using the term 'namaste'. Which a lot of people are afraid to say because they feel it's witchcraft. Which is laughable. Look up the word. It's quite beautiful.
I've been doing yoga with a classes for several weeks now. I've learned several things about myself during this time:
1- My hip is far worse than I originally thought. It may be finally time to look into getting it replaced. We'll see
2- I can do more than I thought I could. My body can and will be more flexible. Plus, my basic strength is quite good.
3- Me doing yoga is more about helping my body and mind. Other than the instructors voice, the only voice I listen to during my yoga class in the one in my head. I pray while I do yoga. It feels natural to do.
4- My posture seems to be better. I can sit up straighter in a chair and I can feel my spine stretching straighter when I walk.
5- I should have been doing this long ago. My buddy Jason, whom for a time was my chiropractor, had me doing exercises and various things to help my back and joints. He truly knows what he is doing. Wished I would have listened to him a bit more, nonetheless, he mentioned yoga as a low impacted way of 'working out'. At the time, I was to busy being self-absorbed to listen. Though, I wanted to do it.
A online friend made it a point to tell me he thought only women did yoga. That's why they all wear 'them yoga pants things'. Funny. For the most part, 9 out of 10 women I see wearing yoga pants don't practice. They wear them because they are comfortable. Nothing wrong with that. The wearing of such pants became such a ridiculous issue at the high school I used to teacher at that it was laughable. People are so afraid of the human body. It's actually....scary. :) Nonetheless, a lot of women do yoga. However, it's certainly not a gender specific practice. There are men in my class as there are women. I would say, however, the 'workout' side of yoga attracts women more than men. That's a lousy gender role look at it. Men are suppose to use weights. Women are suppose to work out. Whatever. Honestly, I dont really understand why a heterosexual man would enjoy hanging around other sweating men when you can be in class with lovely women. I don't know. Just me. Plus, I enjoy being around the energy that women give off. They tend to be more gentle and creative. Two things that I strive to be more of. This coming from a bearded 250 pound man. Go figure.
Other than the gender issues, a lot of people here in the Bible Belt have issue with yoga as a derivative of santana dharma or Hinduism. For the most part this is ignorance. Hinduism ISN'T a polytheistic religion. In fact, some have trouble calling Hinduism a religion at all. Some see it as a life practice. I do as well. Being hindu actually relates to where one was born. The faith, santana dharma, is the practicing of living life. People see all the 'gods' and it feels unfamilar to them. Which is fine, in fact it's expected. However, learning whom these 'gods' are the better you will see that they are actually all the same diety. The one god.